Incredible Yes

I didn't grow up Catholic.  I was however deeply rooted in my Christian faith. The pastors of the two churches I was ever part of were all married and had families.  I joined the Catholic church when Tim and I were married in 1995.  Three years later, I was pregnant with Jakob, and while I had never given much thought to the lives of priests and nuns before, it crossed my mind during my pregnancy, and then moreso after Jakob was born.  This little boy of mine...what would he become?  Although I was barely a new mom, I couldn't help but think of someday being a grandmother...of my little boy being a father.  Someone at sometime made a comment that maybe he would be a priest.  A priest???  NO.  How could any mother WANT that for her son?  It would mean being deprived of so much! (both of us--mother and son)  I didn't really express that feeling to many people...probably to noone.  I hadn't completely embraced the fullness of the Catholic church and her teachings to consider or even understand the amazing "yes" that priests and religious say to God's calling. (I am not discounting at all the amazing "yes" that Protestant ministers say to God's calling!) My tune has changed.

Maybe it is the years.  The maturity.  Maybe it is the fact that I have five boys now, not one.  Maybe it is my absolute love of my Catholic faith.  Maybe it was that first visit to the seminary or getting to know some priests and some religious sisters.  Maybe it is the fact that I have been a parent for almost 13 years, and I understand more as I teach it to my children that we are all called to a vocation by God and that we must ask Him what His will is and listen for His answer.   When we talk to our kids about what they could be...anything...that the best answer they could give is "whatever God wants me to be."  They (we all) pray that God leads them toward the vocation He has already chosen for them.  I've met several men who went to the seminary to discern their calling, and determined that they were being lead elsewhere.  I've also met several men who were in a wonderful relationship with a woman that they would consider marrying, and followed God's call to the priesthood instead.  That is a pretty amazing testimony of faith.  I'm not saying at all that it is easy to listen to God and not wonder, but possible, it certainly is!

About five years ago or so, we went to the ordination ceremony of a friend.  He was one of several men receiving the sacrament of Holy Orders and being ordained to the priesthood.  I remember it vividly.  I was completely overcome with emotion and found myself nearly sobbing with pride for our friend...and then I thought about how proud his parents...his mother, must be and sobbed even more!  My heart was transformed, and from that point, I've felt that it would be a highest honor if one of my boys is called to become a priest.  (Or one of my girls called to be a religious sister!)

Each of the boys have made comments about being a priest, or being a paternal father.  I have no idea what God has chosen for them.  I would be most happy either way...or even if they were called to the single long as they are following our Heavenly Father.  Jakob and Joshua both really enjoy serving Mass.  I'm not sure if they enjoy the reverent element, the spotlight element, or the being-involved element.  It doesn't really matter.  They're reverent.  They're learning.  They're benefiting.  They were both asked to serve for the first Mass of a newly ordained priest.  It was truly an honor.  We didn't have any ties to the new priest except through his brother who is in the seminary and simply through our parish where his first Mass was.  What a fantastic opportunity.  It was beautiful.  Simply beautiful.  At the end of Mass, he said a few personal words, thanking many, telling stories of his journey and the positive influence of his younger brother.  He spoke of the bond of love between himself and his siblings...and it made me smile and gave me hope!  :)  They too fought!! 

He presented his father with the crucifix that was on the altar and his mother with the cloth (manuterge) that he used to wipe the sacred chrism from his hands after his ordination.  The mother will eventually be buried with it when she passes away.  He thanked them for their influence, encouragement, support and prayers to help mold and form him in such a way that he was open to hearing God's calling. As I sat there watching, I thought to myself,  "Whew...that's a tall order."  I have such room to far to go...such a big job.  Not saying at all that if none of my children become priests or religious sisters that I didn't do my job, just reflecting on how every day we work toward helping our children be the best that they can be, and often I feel like I fall short in setting a good example or being a good leader, and yet God continues to give me another opportunity to try again!  Thank you God!! 

Joseph and Mathilda receiving a first blessing from Fr. Zimmer.
 Anyway, my point is that I would be elated, proud, honored, if one or more of my children feel called to the religious life, and I won't at all feel like they or I am missing out on anything at all!   I pray that they say "yes" to whatever God calls them to.