One of the tough realizations of being a Catholic parent is knowing that your child ultimately belongs to God, and so has to follow God’s will rather than what you may want them to do.
This includes following a priestly or religious vocation. Now, some Catholic parents are thrilled with the prospect of their child giving their life to God. For other parents, it’s a challenge to accept.
Either way, it is every Catholic parent’s duty to make sure their child stays open to whatever God is calling them to — even the priesthood or religious life.
Here are some ways to accomplish this.
1. Introduce your child to priests and religious
One reason why so few children think about a vocation to the priesthood or religious life anymore is that they have little or no contact with priests, monks, or nuns. Sadly, this is partly due to the current vocation crisis.
But there are often special vocation events for kids at Catholic schools, parishes, dioceses, or convents. Consider taking your child to one of these so they can see firsthand those who have answered the call.
2. Teach your child to pray and be open to God’s will
Make no mistake: God has some sort of plan for your child. But He probably won’t make it clear through unmistakable signs. The only way your child will discern the call is by learning to communicate regularly with God and opening their heart to His voice.
To foster your child’s relationship with God, teach them to pray daily and also take them to adoration. Having Jesus physically present before your child in adoration is a great way to help them learn to sit with God in silence.
3. Make sure your child knows that you’re open to their vocation
Parents want their children to be happy. But some have trouble seeing their children happy without marriage and families of their own. This sometimes causes well-meaning parents to discourage their children from pursuing a life of celibacy.
But, ultimately, your children belong to God. He is their first loyalty. And the only way to find true happiness in life is by following God’s will wherever it leads.
4. Also, don’t pressure them into a vocation
Then, there are those Catholic parents who are begging God to call their child to the priesthood or religious life. And this is a good desire, but, again, your child’s loyalty is to God. That means that if God is calling them to marriage, you need to accept that.
Be careful about pressuring your child to embrace a priestly or religious vocation. Otherwise, they may enter out of guilt and be miserable. And one thing the world doesn’t need is miserable priests and religious.
The Church teaches us that we can become saints in any vocation. So, no matter what vocation your child chooses, as long as they have a heart to serve God, then you should rejoice. What matters, in the end, is that they make it to heaven. Our vocation on earth is simply a means to this goal.