Since we home school on a year-round schedule, now is the time of year our children rise to new grades. For my kids, this is a time filled with excitement and anticipation as the UPS man begins to appear in our driveway balancing boxes stuffed with crisp, new textbooks. And their enthusiasm peaks when the annual CAT tests arrive sparking a house-wide hunt for number 2 pencils and eraser remnants.
I guess I’d have to admit my own excitement at the realization that I’ve successfully completed another home schooling year with my sanity in tact (mostly). Although I might also be spied taking some extra deep breaths and wringing my hands as I navigate the half-opened boxes and packing peanuts strewn across the floor while administering 6 CAT tests simultaneously.
This spring marks an especially monumental period of sorts. Our eldest son is entering his senior year of high school, followed directly behind by his little brother, the new junior. For the last year or so, in addition to the regular topics of conversation in our household (which span everything from what’s for dinner to the catalysts for the decline of the Roman empire), there’s been quite a bit of talk about vocations.
The dictionary defines vocation as:
A regular occupation, especially one for which a person is particularly suited or qualified.
An inclination, as if in response to a summons, to undertake a certain kind of work, especially a religious career; a calling.
While I would be overjoyed to supply the Church with more priests and religious (and I regularly pray that I will), our discussions cover a broader perspective. Too often, perhaps, the focus for young people in this age begins with a more materialistic vision. The first question seems to revolve around pay scales and earning possibilities. While it is certainly reasonable to ponder income potential, especially considering they may one day be providing for their own families, we are encouraging our sons to discerntheir vocations.
Sometimes Apples Fall A Little Further From The Tree
Unlike their dad and I, who were both like ready racing greyhounds when the the gate is lifted and the hare appears, our sons seem to be more relaxed and less narrowly focused in their career dreams. Current professed employment intentions have included a novelist, a millionaire (that one didn’t have a means, just a goal), a recruit in the Marines then the Army (sorry no sailors), a graphic artist, a boss (of what I’m not sure), a photographer, a con artist (hmm, maybe one of them is already trying that skill on for size now)…
My regular prompt for them is, “What does God want you to do?” I have known from the moment they came into my life that their Father had a purpose for each one of my children. Watching them grow and mature, I am privileged to see their unique talents and strengths, as well as their weaknesses.
At times, their dad and I have been inclined to recommend paths like the priesthood, military services, etc. And friends have taken the opportunity to share their advice. Talking from experience, we all want the best for their futures. We want to spare them the heartbreaks, failures and frustrations we may have weathered, but we are not God. We lack His wisdom, His understanding of the bigger plan, so our focus may be less vocational and more employment oriented.
St. Peter Julian Eymard says, “The man of the world does not wait for things to happen, but anticipates them and forces them into his service. The man of God waits for the hour of divine Providence, responds to the impulses of grace, devotes himself to the entire will of God, for the present and the future, and he does so with a filial self-surrender that leaves the whole care and glory of everything to God his Father.”
In my own life, Divine Providence has taught me time and again (because I’ve been too stubborn to listen to the first prompting) that God’s ways are truly far above my own. So, in this historic year in Brelinskyville, I’ll pray with extra devotion that my children will be open to the still small voice of their Father. And when they each prayerfully discern His call, I will rejoice in knowing that wherever their paths leads them, if it is God’s Path, they will one day matriculate to the heavenly roll.