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On June 3, 2012, in case you missed it, Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Mass in Milan in front of one million people!! As a You Tube audio put it- WOW!
At the conclusion of his address, the Holy Father said, Family, work, celebration: three of God’s gifts, three dimensions of our lives that must be brought into a harmonious balance. Harmonizing work schedules with family demands, professional life with fatherhood and motherhood, work with celebration, is important for building up a society with a human face. In this regard, always give priority to the logic of being over that of having: the first builds up, the second ends up destroying. We must learn to believe first of all in the family, in authentic love, the kind that comes from God and unites us to him, the kind that therefore “makes us a ‘we’ which transcends our divisions and makes us one, until in the end God is ‘all in all’ (1 Cor 15:28)” (Deus Caritas Est, 18). Amen.
Here’s an uplifting story from The B.C. Catholic, the publication of the Archdiocese of Vancouver, on a young man who just made his perpetual vows as a Benedictine at Westminster Abbey in Mission, British Columbia.
John Marple (now known as Frater Caesarius) was the fourth of eight children, who began homeschooling when he was in second grade.
Meaghan Boland first felt the call to religious life at age 16. She was preparing to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation.
“It was just kind of the whole preparation,” she said.
Also, in high school, she went on a youth retreat, where she spent time in the presence of Our Lord.
“That drew me into the adoration piece,” she explained.
Meaghan’s faith continued to deepen.
So her parents, Thomas and Virginia Boland, were not surprised by Meaghan’s recent announcement that she wanted to join a convent.
But there was an unexpected twist three years ago when Meaghan’s older brother, James, discerned he had too a vocation. Read the rest of this entry »
Today my daughter, Sr. Mary Kate, a postulant-soon-to-be-novice with the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, is arriving for a one-week home visit. We are all so excited to welcome her home!
Amidst all the anticipation and preparations, I stumbled upon this article in the June 5, 2011 issue of Our Sunday Visitor Newsweekly. It’s about the tensions that sometimes exist between the Catholic homeschooling community and parochial schools. I’ll get back to Sr. Mary Kate in a minute. Read the rest of this entry »
Check out Terry Mattingly’s post from last Thursday entitled “Fewer children? Then fewer nuns . . .” This post is a commentary on an earlier Religion News Service article on that topic, based on the CARA Report on the newly professed religious issued a couple months ago. He asserts that the shrinking of American families has contributed to parents’ unwillingness to have their children enter religious life.
Mattlingly points out that while there is a “season of demographic decline” among women’s religious communities, there are some religious communities are booming. He makes the connection that there must be a doctrinal component in all this and says that’s the Vatican’s take on it, too.
From my own experience as the father of a young religious sister, I can surely affirm it’s a doctrinal matter—both for those entering religious life as well as for the parents, whose faith and lifestyle have a huge influence on their children.
As I noted in my comment at the end of the post, what really struck me was the closing comment about promoting vocations in a “culture nervous about large families.” Large families have alway been considered a sign of hope and divine blessing. Ours is largely a “culture of death” lacking in supernatural hope. And so we’re nervous.
More simply put, if the family is without a living faith and doesn’t esteem religious life (or priesthood or even having more kids), then it’s not fertile soil for vocations. That’s why we need a “new evangelization.”
This past weekend I took the time to explore the website of Family Vocation Ministries, one of the “top ten” vocation websites according the U.S. Bishops’ For Your Vocation website. The website offers outstanding resources and events to help families foster vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life.
Family Vocations Ministries fulfills its mission by:
- Living the Gospel of Christ in love and truth according to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church.
- Sponsoring and praying for Family Vocation Days at the parish level.
- Praying daily for an increase of vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life.
- Praying daily for the perseverance and fidelity of bishops, priests, seminarians and consecrated religious.
- Praying daily for the Bishop of the diocese and the local pastor.
- Fostering, promoting and praying for holiness in family life.
The family vocation days jumped off the page to me as a wonderful idea. I’d love to hear from someone who has participated in one of these events to learn more.
The sites offers a wealth of resources and links, and it exudes a spirit of prayer and fidelity to the Magisterium. Check it out!
In this article, the USA Today comments on the CARA report earlier this month on women religious who took their final vows in 2010. The article focuses on the disappointing statistic that more than half of the sisters were discouraged by a family member in pursuing their vocation.
In most families that I’ve encountered, the problem is that religious vocations are not adequately valued. Contraception, the natural but at times inordinate desire for grandchildren, lukewarm faith, poor formation, and secular values are but a few of the factors that come into play, along with the normal emotions that go with having a loved one more away, potentially forever.
Maybe in the cases in which the family isn’t on board with the decision, the young woman’s vocation may be a catalyst for the conversion of the family . . .