We have mentioned before that this is the “Springtime of the Church,” what with First Holy Communions, Baptisms and Confirmations, and soon, Ordinations. Next week, Bishop Barres will ordain two men to the Diaconate: Brendon Laroche and Jared Zambelli. In June, he will ordain four men to the Priesthood: James Harper (from HGA), Daniel Kravatz, Kevin Lonergan, and Mark Searles. We pray that the Church will experience continued fruitfulness in every respect.
The theme of fruitfulness is apt for our reflection today (Sunday readings here). Americans are celebrating Mothers Day. Mothers cooperate most intimately in the generation and development of human beings. They are often the first to teach prayers, to drag children to Mass, and otherwise to give example of humanity and holiness. They can be a child’s most reliable seamstress, boo-boo kisser, and constructive critic. The image of a shepherd’s recognizable voice certainly applies to the Mom who calls for the kids to come in for dinner (or, perhaps, who texts them to come downstairs for it). Many a mother has wept for and pleaded with a child who has strayed from the faith or from the family. Mothers tend to want abundant life for their children, in imitation of the desire Jesus expressed for His brothers and sisters: “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly” (Jn 10:10). Mothers (and fathers) understandably want their children to prosper in every imaginable way.
When it comes to spiritual, particularly vocational fruitfulness, I can’t help but wonder if, in many cases, parents don’t consider, much less endorse, the priesthood and consecrated life for their children—at least not for long, before other ideas smack it down. My guess is that the prospect of grandchildren has the most appeal, although some might prefer their kids to have a more lucrative career or something else. I’ll bet that some parents could have a deep-seated, fearful aversion to the idea that “one of my children should become a priest/nun.” The reasons for such an aversion are worth exploring, but that’s a post for another day.
I can speak only for myself and, I trust, for my family. My late father didn’t often share tender sentiments, but he was visibly proud of me and honored the path I took. Any legitimate, moral occupation that suited me was fine by him. My mother put all her eggs in one basket, and she couldn’t be happier; in any case, she would rather not get in God’s way when it came to my life. In a manner of speaking, she gets to have many grandchildren, and doesn’t have to change any of their diapers. With understandable bias, I consider my parents’ attitude toward my vocation as one that should be normative for parents, whatever vocation their children choose.
A good parent is a good shepherd who takes cues from Jesus and the Church—from the wisdom of His teachings, from the fidelity of her saints. Good parents strive to place their gifts and faults, their strengths and limitations, at the service of the Lord and their children. They are interested in what their children want and need: whatever pertains to their health, their safety, and their salvation. We pray that our children will stay close to their families and to the Church, to learn the Lord’s loving intentions for their lives, so that they may freely and joyfully cooperate in those intentions each day.