Pope Francis declared this a Year for Consecrated Life. What does this mean?
During this year he is asking religious congregations to make their unique history known, promote the need for men and women to enter religious life and encourage families to support their children if they choose this way of life.
The National Religious Vocation Conference (NRVC) has been doing an outstanding job of sharing information with families and those interested in religious life through Facebook posts and other media outlets. I invite you to read an article I wrote for their Resource Packet. I hope you find this helpful.
As I reflect on this topic, I was drawn to the story of Jesus being found in the temple, The 5th Joyful Mystery. In this story, Jesus and his parents travel to Jerusalem to celebrate the feast. Upon their return home, Mary and Joseph realize their son is not with them. They return to Jerusalem and find Him in the temple listening to the teachers and asking them questions. Mary says to her son, didn’t you know your father and I would be worried about you? Jesus responds, did you not know I would be about the work of my Father?
Jesus needed to respect his earthly parents and at the same time, remain obedient to his heavenly Father. What He experienced with his earthly parents is something that many children experience today.
Sometimes a child’s desire to follow the will of God does not coincide with the thoughts and desires of his or her parents. How do parents and children reconcile this difference - when the parents want one thing but the child wants something else?
I know of a family where the father is a doctor and he had a strong desire that his son follow in his footsteps and attend medical school. The son did become a doctor but instead of joining his father’s practice, he opened a clinic for the poor in a neighboring city. This situation created a lot of tension between them until the son was able to express to his father that he had a strong desire to answer the call from God to serve the poor.
When one discerns the call from God to enter a religious congregation or to answer the call from God that is different from what their parents are hoping for, I encourage all members of the family to reflect on this Mystery and gain some insights and graces from Jesus, Mary and Joseph.
Have you ever had a family member enter a religious congregation? What was that experience like for you? Have you entered a religious congregation and had this experience? How did you live this call from God that was different than your parents?
Let us know. Your experience could enlighten parents and families, and encourage those discerning their own call.