A Lenten Call to Parents and Kids Alike

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We’re often urged to “pray for vocations.” Almost always, this is meant as an encouragement to ask God for more priests and religious for service to the church.

Certainly, this intention is crucial and timely. But there’s another way to “pray for vocations”—one that none of us can afford to neglect. It has to do with the fact that God gives each of us, young and old, something to do for him and for other people on his behalf.

Those who are married have the mission of revealing Christ’s love to the world in their relationship with their spouse. Those who are single are called to a special closeness with the Lord that enables them to live chastely and generously for his kingdom. Children and young people still living at home are to imitate Jesus by honoring their parents and increasing “in wisdom and in years” (Luke 2:52).

Many Vocations. But even within our “state in life,” we have other vocations. Some of them come with the territory. Eight-year-old Nicholas is called to learn his math and get along with his siblings. The county prosecutor has to prepare his cases well so that justice will be served. Parents of a child with special needs take on the mission of getting her the help she requires.

Other callings come through our own decisions, as we try to respond to God’s direction. I know a single woman, a nurse, who moved back to her home state in order to care for an elderly aunt and uncle and to be a supportive presence for her nieces and nephews. More than one couple I know has made significant financial sacrifices so that one spouse could take a job where their skills could benefit more people. These, too, are vocations, though they may be temporary.

Families can have callings. There are obvious examples, like the fearless few who pack up and go off to serve as lay missionaries. Other families exercise gifts like hospitality or teaching or evangelization closer to home.

I’m sure you could add many similar examples from your own circle of friends and family members.

God Calling. This Lent, what about giving full attention to what God is calling you to do, as individuals and as a family? Why not take these forty days to seek a clearer understanding of your vocation?

Take stock of your direction, talents, and resources and ask the Lord if you are serving him and others as he intends. With a little parental guidance, children, too, can learn to ask him questions and listen for his voice:

Jesus, how are you calling me? Where do you want me to follow you right now? In the future? Am I doing what you want? Is it time to make a change?

You may come away reassured that what you’re doing is right on target. Or maybe you’ll discover that you need an attitude adjustment—a change of heart to embrace something that you’ve just been enduring. Maybe the Lord wants to give you more joy, power, courage, or confidence that he is with you. It may be that he will uncover some pocket of laziness or fear, so that you can repent and move on.

One thing is sure: In every family, in every heart, God is calling. I like the way John Henry Newman expressed it in one of his sermons:

All through our life, Christ is calling us. He called us first in baptism, but afterwards also. Whether we obey his voice or not, he graciously calls us still—from grace to grace, and from holiness to holiness… . Christ is walking among us, and by his hand, or eye, or voice, bidding us to follow him.

This Lent, let’s accept the grace to answer our Lord’s call.

Louise Perrotta is features editor of The Word Among Us magazine.

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