In Matthew 19:14, Jesus asks one thing of parents: "…Let the children come to me…" He never said anything about making sure they could interpret a science graph or solve for "x" or memorize history facts and multiplication tables. Those skills are important and do serve a purpose in their development. But they are only means to the greater end: Heaven. To get there, parents must teach their children to know Jesus, love Jesus, and serve Jesus.
God calls everyone to live out that mission in different ways through their vocations. The seed of a vocation is primarily planted and cultivated in the Sacrament and vocation of Matrimony. It is the first vocation children are exposed to and their first example and symbol of the loving relationship between God and his people. Because of this, married spouses and parents need all the graces they can get. With the Sacrament of Holy Orders and through the ministry of the Church they receive the necessary graces of the other five sacraments: Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Penance, and Anointing of the Sick.
Through these graces, parents can nourish their children’s souls and help them discern their unique vocations that will set them on their path to Jesus. Parents can pray for God to reveal his will to their children and they can be active witnesses to God working in their lives. They can participate together as a family in the life of their parish and in their faith through the celebration of the Sacrifice of the Mass, frequent visits to the Blessed Sacrament, family confession times throughout the year, and other family prayer traditions such as a weekly rosary or morning and evening prayer routine.
It is also important that parents expose their children to the real-life vocations of the priesthood, the religious life, and the single consecrated life. Families can invite their parish pastor or associate pastors into their homes for dinner or dessert to show their children that there’s more to the priesthood than what they see and hear at Mass on Sunday. Exposing young boys and girls to the religious life by visiting religious brothers and sisters and monasteries and convents when possible gives them a peek at a vocation that is often times forgotten or misunderstood. When parents involve their children in the faith and local community and teach them how to share their time, talent, and treasure they lay down the foundation for God to build their vocation on. Their vocation will become the main line between their children’s souls and God.
The Catechism of our Catholic Faith reminds parents that "through the grace of the sacrament of marriage, parents receive the responsibility and privilege of evangelizing their children. Parents should initiate their children at an early age into the mysteries of the faith of which they are the "first heralds" for their children. They should associate them from their tenderest years with the life of the Church. A wholesome family life can foster interior dispositions that are a genuine preparation for a living faith and remain a support for it throughout one’s life. (CCC, #2225)
Copyright 2010 Erika Marie