It is simple to learn how to encourage (or not to discourage) religious vocations in your children.
How to Encourage Religious Vocations in your Children
Have you ever wondered if one of your children may have a vocation to religious life? Sometimes you may have a gut feeling about your child being a priest or a religious. Other times, your child may surprise you and say that he wants to be a priest or she wants to be a nun. It is important as parents for us to know how to encourage religious vocations in our children.
Let your children know a religious vocation is an option.
So often we talk with our children about being married or single as options they have when they become adults. We talk about jobs, college, careers, and having a family. However, there is another vocation we should be telling them about: religious life (as a religious brother, a religious sister, or a priest).
When we talk with our children about options for their future, we are doing them a disservice if we do not mention religious life as a possibility. God knows what plans he has for our children as they get older. Religious life might be what He plans for our child.
Let your children know they are free to choose a religious vocation.
Some parents do not want their children to enter religious life. They may want grandchildren or may be afraid that a religious life will be a difficult life to live.
Contrary to this, some parents try to push a religious life on their child. Perhaps they want the prestige for themselves among their friends and family for having a child who is a religious. Or, they may want the recognition for their child that they believe their child will receive as a religious.
But, does anyone like others telling them what to do and how to live their life? Probably not!
It is important to make sure our children know that they are free to choose a religious life. They are also free not to choose a religious life. They alone are responsible for answering God’s call and following Him. The choice is theirs alone to make.
A number of years ago my husband and I met a man who was in the seminary studying to become a priest. He shared his story with us. He was an only child and his father had passed away, so it was just he and his mother. They were not Catholic, yet he felt called to the priesthood. His mother was okay with him studying to become a priest; she let him know that he was free to choose this path. His story impressed me in two ways: 1-that his mother was supportive and 2-that he as a non-Catholic had the faith to follow God’s call into the Church and the priesthood.
Letting our children know we support them is so important. Then can then be free to discern what vocation God is calling them to without feeling any pressure from us as their parents. This freedom is what God Himself gives each of us. It is the freedom our children need to have to make the right decision for them, the decision God is truly calling them to make.
Let your children know they need to pray about and discern what vocation God is calling them to.
A vocation should never be entered into lightly. Getting married, staying single, or becoming a religious are all important vocations. They each complement each other. If everyone was single or a religious, the human race would die out. If everyone got married, we would have no priests to administer the sacraments or brothers and sisters to share the faith with others in a singularly devoted way. If we had no married couples and families, we would not have, as Pope John Paul II called families, domestic churches wherein parents teach their children about God and all of the members work together to grow in holiness. All three vocations work together to build up the Body of Christ, the Church.
It is not wise to make a decision on a whim. Each person needs to carefully and prayerfully discern what vocation God is calling him or her to.
We can teach our children to pray for God's guidance to know and then follow the vocation God is calling him or her to.
Let your children know you are praying for them to discern what vocation God is calling them to.
Our children want to know that we are on their side, that we are working to help them to be the best they can be, and that we want for them to follow the dreams God has placed on their hearts.
We can let them know that we are praying for them to hear and answer God's call to them. We want them to follow what God wants for them, for we know that what God wants is what is best for them.
We can let them know we are praying for them. We can also pray with them for guidance and an open heart to God's will in their lives in all ways.
Let your children know you love and support them in their choice of a vocation.
Our children, even as teenagers and adults, want to know that we love them and are proud of them. Let them know that you love and support them in the vocation they choose. After prayerful and careful discernment, they will hear God's call and know the vocation God has in store for them.
Our support as their parents will help them to have the freedom to respond lovingly to God's call.
How to encourage religious vocations in your children-choose to love
Learning how to encourage religious vocations in your children is not difficult. Pray for God's guidance to help you. Pray for your children to know what vocation God has in store for them and have the courage to follow it. Talk with your children about their choices-single, married life, or religious life. Let them know that religious life is an option. You can contact religious brothers, religious sisters, or a priest you know to talk to them, too, if you want some guidance or if your child shows a serious interest and want to talk to someone.
As humans made in the image and likeness ofGod, we are made for love. The best way we can each love God is to follow the desires He places in our hearts in regard to the vocation He has called us to. Let us help, pray for, and encourage our children to follow the vocation He has called them to, for it will be the one that will bring them the greatest joy and draw them closest to God.
How to Encourage Religious Vocations in your Children-resources
Prayer to Know One's Vocation from the USCCB website.
Called to Holiness: On Love, Vocation, and Formation by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI
The Meaning of Vocation: In the Words of John Paul IINo Fields Found.
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