I recently read a column in my archdiocesan newspaper pointing out the fact that we pray for vocations to the priesthood and religious life, but we don’t pray for the vocation of Catholic marriages. At first, I thought why would we need to pray for a vocation that is plentiful? However, when you think about it, are all those Catholic weddings really Catholic marriages? I thought back to when we were taking marriage prep courses, not recognizing any of the other couples, and having conversations with couples who hadn’t been to Mass in years. The high church attendance for Christmas and Easter is also a good indicator of how many luke warm Catholics are out there. If we want to increase the vocations to the priesthood and religious life, yes we need to pray, but we also need stronger Catholic marriages.
Catholic marriages where the couple is committed to the teachings of the Church, regularly engage in the Sacraments and spreading their faith onto their children, not leaving the Catholic schools or prep classes to do it.
It reminded me when I had my yearly interview with our school’s chaplain, and he asked me what we could do as a school to encourage devotion. I replied, that I thought our school was doing pretty good and that I felt that parents needed to be more involved. We pray as a school three times a day, there is weekly mass and rosary at lunch that increases to every lunch hour during Lent and we have monthly school masses where we say the rosary before mass. We have religious icons throughout the school, offer penitential services, organize retreats and have lots of social justice initiatives. Truthfully, I think our school is holding up our end of the bargain and I think that parents shouldn’t depend on the school to grow their Catholic faith. Parents are their child’s first and primary teacher and role model, after all.
After reading lots of my students’ responses and journal entries in class, I can tell that a lot of them don’t go to Mass on Sunday, they don’t pray as a family and the only exposure they get of the Faith is at their Catholic school. Of course this isn’t the case for all, but there are far too many. What more can we do as a school, if they go home and nothing more is said about the faith? Why are parents putting the pressure on the teachers for passing on their faith to their children?
I think if we had stronger Catholic marriages, we would have more vocations to the priesthood and religious. I think that we need to pray for this vocation just as much as the others, maybe even more in this day and age. I have too many “catholic” friends who had the “catholic” wedding, but would never want their son to be a priest or daughter to join a convent. This kind of attitude needs to change, if we ever hope to see an increase in priests and religious.