Monday, May 9, 2011

Theology of the Body, Week 7

We had an extensive break between TOB sessions this go'round and then landed on one of the most important topics rarely addressed in the teenage years:

Vocation.

The first time I heard this word and understood what it meant was ... let me check my watch ... about 12 months ago. It's a common complaint on this blog (and many) to gripe about the secular view, but the secular world cast a shadow on my perception of "vocation," throughout my life.

I thought that it "just felt right" when you thought you would be married, be a nun/monk, or be a priest, so that's what you decided to do. The idea of "discerning" was entirely foreign and, in fact, sounded like I thought God would send down an angel to answer my "honey do list" of questions.

"To answer your questions, yes, yes, heck no, and not today, but give it a few months. Also, wear the green shirt today, it matches that skirt better than the purple one, mkay?" -Gabriel

For one, I didn't think I deserved clear answers. I deserved to suffer in the gray for a little while, I thought. That's how I know I'm doing the right thing. Secondly, I thought I wouldn't know if an answer came from God or from me even if God was standing right in front of me.

Our resident seminarian (Yay!!) led this class and asked the two married teachers and me to speak on our vocations. Mine is in a pseudo transition as an unmarried woman who could still become a nun, be married, or live the single vocation.

Married

The two married teachers spoke about the relationships that lead to their married vocation and how they determined what was important to them for their futures. While they were dating their spouses, they discussed their expectations, their flexibility, and their nonnegotiable values.
(I don't own the rights)

My married, female co-teacher started dating her husband when she was twenty, so the first conversations of this nature were prefaced with the phrase, "I know I want my future spouse and I to ..." rather than, "When we get married..."

They protected each others hearts while discussing the most important parts of the vocation to which they felt called.

My married, male co-teacher explained the distinction between the fluttery feelings that you have for someone and acknowledging that you can build a life with someone. He said that there are times when he gets frustrated with his wife, but that they both know they committed to one another under God.

He said that on the night his first-born entered this world, he felt the immense pull to pray in thanksgiving, for the relief of anxiety, and for the health and life of his new family. Even though he was not in a time of life where he attended weekly Mass, he felt the call to be in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.

A short drive later, he arrived in front of the true presence of Jesus Christ and began the first leg of his reversion. The deep commitment and relationship with his wife and their new family motivated him back to a commitment with God.

Chicken and egg? This is where we can plainly see the importance of a thoroughly examined vocation. Pray! For these moments are easily missed if you're not careful.

Religious life or priesthood

Our seminarian (officially, though not in school yet) explained how he felt the tug toward the priesthood for years, even when he wasn't living his life for God. When he did return to living for God and spreading Jesus' message, the tug was stronger than ever.
(I don't own rights)

He brushed it off for as long as he could, expecting that it was a result of his newly found love for Christ's message. He expected to start dating again and to get married, you know, like normal people.

In the fall, he took a risk and attended a retreat for young men to discern the priesthood and the Holy Spirit V8-smacked him. He heard God's call to apply for the priesthood, so he did and just learned that he got in!

That's all it is for the moment: an invitation to apply. There is no need to freak out beyond that, just listening to God's call, one step at a time, is what He asks.

Single/Unmarried/Limbo

That's me.

I'm in a relationship with a wonderful man (more on that in my next TOB post :) ), but I'm unmarried and living as a single person. I'm constantly asking God to make things clear to me, in His time.

I ask Him to give me the strength to do it willingly and with passion because I know doing His will brings the best results. It will make me a fuller person and it will make the world a more Godly place.
(I don't own the rights)

A few short tips I gave the students:
  • Learn from other people's mistakes. In college, I didn't see the value in a kiss. Therefore, I kissed a few people I didn't know well or at all. Recently, I came across a situation where I actually had to push away a guy's face with my hands to prevent him from taking a kiss that I finally began to value.
  • Don't watch wedding shows unless you're engaged. Those wedding dress, wedding planning, and wedding competition shows glorify the wedding day. This is dangerous because of how exciting a wedding day can be. The shows strip away the idea that it's the beginning of a marriage rather than the most exciting part of the marriage. It also hinders those who might be called to religious life because they feel like they'd be missing out on something. Keep your heart and mind protected, just avoid those shows, if you can.
  • Ask God! Ask Him! He's the one who knows you best. He's given you a million clues throughout your life to show you how you can best serve Him, so ask Him to show you His plan! And be patient.
“Are you capable of giving yourselves, your time, your energy and your talent to the well-being of others? Are you capable of love? If you are, Church and society can expect great things of each one of you.”
(Pope John Paul II, Manilla, Phillipines, 1995) 
What tips or guidance would you give to teens about discerning vocation?

8 comments:

Bill Gonch said...

Hey, E, this is great! Favorite quote:

"To answer your questions, yes, yes, heck no, and not today, but give it a few months. Also, wear the green shirt today, it matches that skirt better than the purple one, mkay?" -Gabriel

I love the theme of protecting your heart - from the world, for God. There's also lots to be said on how we recognize recognize God's voice and distinguish it from our own. Perhaps a Maidens theme for the future?

Christine Falk Dalessio said...

I agree about the wedding shows - so much hype, and money and bling and...oooh! shiny!!! can be really distracting from the "full, total, faithful, fruitful" version of marriage that God wants!
As a married woman, (16 years)I just want to encourage you to keep asking, keep praying, keep being Open to the Holy Spirit. Because you cannot receive unless you are open to being filled, and you are not open if you have made so many decisions about your life that there's no room for God to get in.
Thanks for sharing!

Julie Robison said...

Wow, I love this post! I definitely think vocation is something we need write about... maybe next month? :)

The biggest advice for teens is definitely praying to God about one's future vocation. By praying to God, it opens many pathways and opportunities, including any graces God may put into your life. By keeping God in the equation, set-backs are lessened because they indicate that God has something else in mind for you, verses failure, etc.

Liesl said...

I'm waiting for God to "V8 smack me" in the face, as you put it. Not that I feel that I deserve to be told what to do, but because God knows how absolutely indecisive I am unless I'm sure about something... so still waiting!

Those wedding shows... I love em. I'll admit it. I've been known to tear up during Say Yes to the Dress (I left that out of my Mary post when I talked about crying during movies)... but seriously. When the bride is marrying the man who donated a kidney to her... you can't help but cry! I watch that show because I like hearing the stories, not so much for watching them spend thousands of dollars on a dress - which is RIDICULOUS! Utterly ridiculous. Not very good preparation for a future life to fetter away your life savings on a single day. Eep!

Michelle @ Catholic Unveiled said...

Okayy...I love this :) I think it's so important to write/talk about vocations and discernment, and with the recent surge in information available on discerning religious life, I'm always extra excited to hear from people who are discerning marriage.
Although I'm more drawn to religious life, I think marriage is an equally honorable and valuable vocation. So often I think that when we say "I'm discerning," it's automatically assumed that we're on our way to the convent, when really, it just means (or should mean) that we are open to whatever the Lord's will is for our lives, and we are seeking to know what that will is.

thisjourneyofmylife said...

Thanks for this post! Discerning is something that was unnecessary in the church where I grew up. You either got married or you uhm got married! Though I'm pretty sure marriage is the way to go for me, it's interesting to reflect on my 'options'. It's liberating to have several possibilities!
And I'm curious about Mr. Wonderful!

Saint Paul's Outreach (SPO) said...

Thank you for the insightful look at all vocations! It can be difficult for young adults to be open to the different ways God can be calling them, but you made all seem possible.

vitaconsecrata said...

I'm not sure why, but this post just gave me great joy in my discerning religious life. I know that I'll be able to visit when the time is right, but I really wish I could drive on down there now. The time will come...I must keep repeating that.

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