February 23, 2018

Faith and Family / Sean Gallagher

Let Lent be a time for families to walk the path of vocations

Sean GallagherMy oldest son Michael, a sophomore at Father Thomas Scecina Memorial High School in Indianapolis, recently took the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test, commonly known as the PSAT.

He scored well on it. Proud father that I am, I was amazed as letters from colleges across the country filled our mail box in the weeks that followed.

I know full well that those envelopes were filled with form letters generated at best because Michael scored above a certain level on the test, or perhaps just because he put down his address when he registered for it.

I also know that my son moving toward his college years will come with its fair share of challenges.

But that’s been the case since he was born. Every stage of his life has had its own crosses and blessings.

After the initial amazement at seeing those letters pour in, I felt astonished that the little baby I held in my arms on May 1, 2002, in a hospital room moments after he was born was attracting the attention of schools across the country.

It was a dramatic reminder to me of just how far he’s gone down the path that God has planned out for him for all eternity.

God has given each of us such a path, which is shaped through the vocation to which he has called us.

Michael doesn’t yet know what his vocation is. And that’s OK. I was almost twice his current age when I finally concluded through prayer that God was calling me to marriage.

But it’s never too early to give attention to our calling from God. And Lent can be a wonderful time to do this, especially in families.

Lent is a 40-day spiritual pilgrimage to Easter that encapsulates the journey of faith of our entire lives. We’re all invited by God to follow in the steps of his Son in our lives, picking up our cross daily, so that, by his grace, we can experience the joy of the resurrection, in part in this life and in its fullness in the next.

Our vocation is the path laid out for us by God to enter into the sacrificial love of Calvary in order to arrive at the glory of the empty tomb.

Husbands and wives walk this path in giving of themselves to each other and any children with which God might bless them. They are also witnesses of the loving spousal relationship of Christ and the Church.

Priests and religious walk this path in service to God’s people and in their witness here and now to the life that awaits us in heaven.

During Lent, parents might resolve to ask God in prayer to lead their children to know and embrace their vocations and that he might help them more fully live out their own.

This prayer for vocations can be taken up by the whole family. Lent is a wonderful time to nurture the life of prayer of the family as a whole. Perhaps during Lent at mealtimes, bedtime or other times of prayer as a family, parents and children can offer prayers together to God for each other’s vocations.

Parents and children can also offer up their Lenten fasting for each other’s vocations.

And to grow in awareness of and gratitude for vocations, families might make doing something nice—a spiritual bouquet perhaps—for priests or religious as part of their Lenten almsgiving.

May this Lent be a time for parents and children to walk together on each other’s journey of their vocations. †

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