Howdy and welcome back to Beyond the Pew. It’s great to be back here with you another week and I’m hoping that your week is going fantastic. Today I want to talk to you about how to help your kids discern a vocation to whatever it is, whether it’s to married life, priesthood, religious life, or the single life.
A couple of weeks ago, me and a couple of the other youth ministers went to a youth ministry training held by the diocese, and while we were there, the diocesan director of vocations, Fr. Jonathan Raia was sharing with us how we as youth ministers can help young people discern and be open to the vocation of priesthood and religious life. So I wanted to share with you a couple of things that I learned that pertain to you as parents.
So the number one thing that Fr. Jonathan said, the number one influencer in the lives of young people is the parents. The number one influencer on what they’re going to do with their life is you. Yeah, other things can help with that, youth ministers or their friends or their peers and those kind of things, but you are number one when it comes to the decisions that they want to make in their life.
Being A Disciple
So the number one thing that you can do to help your students discern and be open to a gift of religious life or priesthood, it’s the number one, instill in them the life of being a disciple, modeling that for them, and sharing that with them about how they can grow in prayer, how they can live in the sacraments because no matter what vocation they end up going into, they need to be a disciple, a follower of Jesus, but by doing all of those things that I mentioned earlier.
The second thing that you could do to help is to address a lot of common misconceptions that youth will think. They’ll think like, “Oh, I like girls or boys too much,” right? And most vocations directors will look at people if they’re discerning their vocation and say like, “If you don’t like, if you’re a guy you don’t like girls, you’re a girl you don’t like guys, like something’s a little off right.” Like if you don’t desire to be married there’s not something that’s natural in you right. So celibacy, Fr. Jonathan Raia said that it’s not a natural thing. We can’t do it naturally. It’s a supernatural gift that comes from the grace of the sacrament of the priesthood or religious life.
None of us are holy enough to do all the things that God is calling us to. But with his help, Christ in us, we can do all of the great things that he is calling us to.
So some of the other things that people worry about is that, “Oh, I want kids too much” or, “I’ll be lonely or I’ll be unhappy.” When it comes to kids, like a priest is a spiritual father to an entire parish so he gets to be involved in the lives of these kids all throughout their lives.
Loneliness & Happiness
And when it comes to loneliness or being unhappy, a lot of priests that I know, a lot of religious I know are some of the happiest people in the world, primarily because they don’t have children of their own that they have to deal with. But Fr. Jonathan was saying like he looked us in the eye and he said, “I’d be lying to you if I didn’t say that I was lonely four, five, six times within my priesthood.” But he looked at us, because most of us in the room were married, he said, “You can’t tell me that you’ve never been lonely even within your marriage.” So loneliness is part of the human experience, something that we’ll all experience at some point. It’s not something specific to religious life or the priesthood.
Another misconception that young people have it’s like, “Oh, if I enter the seminary like that’s it. I’m going to be a priest, no matter what.” But that like they have years and years of discernment where they’re helped along by the studies, they’re helped along by spiritual directors, where they have time to discern. And people can back out of the seminary at any time.
And then the other thing that young people say is, “I’m not holy enough.” And Fr. Jonathan said, “Yeah, you’re right!” None of us are holy enough to do all the things that God is calling us to. But with his help, Christ in us, we can do all of the great things that he is calling us to.
And there’s also a couple of common misconceptions that parents have, “Oh I desire to have grandkids,” or, “I desire my young people to be happy.” and like the crazy thing about this is, that as much as you love your kids, God loves them even more, like God desires their happiness even more than you do. He desires the best for them, and if their best is married, great! Let’s get them that way. If their best is to be a priest or religious or single, then let’s help them along that way as well.
Discerning A Vocation
So I hope this has been helpful for you if you want to go a little deeper into this topic, we have a podcast that we will share the link with you. So you can check it out and it’s geared to actually towards young people so hopefully you and your kids can listen to it together. So until next week, this has been Beyond the Pew. We look forward to seeing you next week!