by Tara K.E. Brelinsky
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” How many times have you asked a child that question? Or maybe you’ve asked a new high school graduate, “What are you going to do now?”
I’ve heard people pose those questions countless times to my eight children. And I have to admit I’ve asked them, too.
However, the answer we’re seeking to those questions typically has less to do with what the child will BE and more to do with what career path the young person plans to engage in. We’re really asking, “What job are you going to be qualified to fill in the adult world?”
A Better Question
While it’s a valid question to ask (there’s nothing wrong with trying to steer our youth to give thoughtful consideration to planning for their employment future), I believe there’s a better question that we need to be asking. Well, maybe not a better question, but I think there is another question to ask FIRST.
Before we prompt a young person to think about career aspirations, we should first ask what vocation they have. We should direct them to seek out God’s plan for them, their vocational call.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines vocation as the calling or destiny we have. It says, “the vocation of the laity consists in seeking the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and directing them according to God’s Will. Priestly and religious vocations are dedicated to the service of the Church as the universal sacrament of salvation.”
So God calls each individual to a vocation within the laity, the priesthood or religious life. Within those vocations, He calls individuals to a particular state in life, married or chaste single-hood.
It’s worth noting that each of these vocations is equal in dignity and deserves our support.
The Vocations Crisis
One could argue that the current vocations crisis is due in large part to our failure to properly teach our children how to discern their vocation. We’re encouraging them to focus on careers rather than instructing them on how to listen for that Still, Small Voice, when planning for their future.
So now is the perfect time to reignite a fire in the hearts of our youth by changing the conversation. Rather than lead them to focus solely on employment opportunities, let’s start talking about their natural talents (aka gifts) and vocations.
Changing the Conversation
Let’s talk to young boys and men about the possibility that God wants them to serve the Church through the priesthood, as a religious brother or as a deacon. What talents do they possess that may help them serve in ministry? Are they called to marriage and what gifts might they bring to family life? What does it mean to be a husband, a father and a provider?
Let’s talk to our girls about the religious life as nuns, sisters or consecrated virgins. What gifts might they have that would make them well suited to serve in a religious community? Are they called to the vocation of marriage and motherhood? What kinds of blessings and sacrifices are involved in raising a family? How are each of these vocations fulfilling God’s plan for His Church?
Let’s talk about the beauty and necessity of chaste single-hood for everyone outside the bond of marriage. This topic is especially important considering the prevailing message that our current culture to pushing. We need to reclaim the truth that sexual intimacy belongs to married couples only and that God calls people to chaste single-hood.
Discuss how chaste singles may be better suited to serve as religious, lay missionaries or caregivers (and much, much more). And how their example of purity is the antidote we need in a culture which is suffering the consequences of immorality.
A Future of Hope
God continues to call and He can reach us where we are if only we allow Him to.
For I know well the plans I have in mind for you- plans for your welfare and not for woe, so as to give you a future of hope. Jeremiah 29:11
Let’s change the conversation with our youth. Rather than focus on employment paths alone, let’s lead them to ask what God is really calling them to BE in this life.
Join the Discussion
A Vocations Discussion Panel will be held at Our Lady of Lourdes on Sat, Aug 5, 2017 at 6:00 pm. This event is appropriate for all ages and dinner will be provided. Bring your children, your family, friends, and neighbors or come by yourself and join in the conversation. Registration is required to ensure there is enough food for everyone, RSVP to 919-861-4600.