20 October 2007

What Are You Going To Be When You Grow Up?

Yesterday I heard a radio talk show where the host asked a 10 year old caller what she was going to be when she grew up, a scientist? a doctor? All too often we ask children this same question. Yet how often do we make the suggestion, have you thought of becoming a priest or a religious sister or brother? Fr. McBrien of Notre Dame made a comment yesterday to a gathering of the aged VOTF (Voice of the Faithful) "Can you imagine what kind of candidates we would attract to the U.S. Senate, for example, or to any other high-ranking political, corporate or academic office if a commitment to lifelong celibacy were an essential, non-negotiable requirement?" Of course one would have to ask Fr. McBrien what prompts him to remain a priest, but that is a topic for another occasion. I do not agree to his assertion that young people ignore religious vocations simply because of the celibacy requirement although in our over-sexed modern culture this surely has some impact. But even St. Thomas Aquinas, 700 years ago, was tempted to impurity by the schemes of his family. No, more than that I think it comes from the attitude of parents and adults who see someone with intelligence and abilities and feel they must use those talents in some profession where success is measured in dollars and/or titles. Even St. Catherine of Siena was forced to cut her long beautiful hair in a desperate attempt to convince her mother that she was committed to her vocation with God and was not going to get married to the suitor the family picked for her. As parents and adults we should encourage a religious vocation, though avoid the other extreme of forcing a child into a religious vocation because we "want a priest in the family." Ultimately we want them to be open to God's call in whatever vocation He may call them because therein they will find their true happiness throughout their lives.

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