Sunday, August 29, 2010

Marriage and vocations

Remember how I can't say no? A few weeks ago our pastor asked Jason and I if we would be willing to give a talk at a retreat he was leading the last weekend of August. He asked us to speak about marriage and vocations. We agreed and, of course, didn't think about it again until last week. In typical Briana/Jason fashion, we were up late last night finishing up our talk scheduled for this morning. Fortunately, I think it went pretty well. I am not as comfortable a public speaker as Jason is, but overall I think we did a pretty good job. I don't have a copy of Jason's talk because he tends to just work off of a simple outline, but I decided to post my written copy of the talks I gave. Our talk started with "Revolutionary Love" by David Crowder Band. Jason did some introductory comments about the commitment we make in the sacrament of marriage. Then I did my first talk on Jason's vocation and its effect on us. Then Jason talked about dealing with my RA as a couple and as a family. Then, I talked about our role in the vocational formation of our children. Then, Jason finished up with some closing comments and "Love Song" by Third Day.

My Talk #1

When we accept God’s call to be a husband or wife, we not only accept responsibility for making our own walk with God, but for supporting another person in theirs – in accepting that responsibility and trusting in God, we allow God to transform both of us.

On top of being married with four children, Jason is in his 3rd year of formation to be a deacon in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. When Jason first told me that he was being called to the diaconate, I was his biggest supporter. I encouraged him because I also felt that he was being called to this ministry. As we went through the application process and the various interviews, I began to truly realize the commitment that I was making. I was concerned – here we were with four very young children starting on this intense five year journey. Five years of two full Saturdays a month, numerous books to read and papers to write. From the beginning it was made clear to me that the wife is expected to travel side by side with her husband, participating in each class and every project. I have many people not understand why I have to do all of this with him – after all he is going to be a deacon, not me. But, even though I am not called to the diaconate, through my vocation of marriage I AM called to be a deacon’s wife. In every interview, they asked us again and again if we thought we could handle it. We always said yes and I would go home and pray and pray “Lord, are you sure we can make this work?” Always the answer I got was “yes.” We put our trust in God, and with God’s help we cleared every hurdle.

Now, three years into the journey, I am beginning to reap the rewards of that trust I put in God. I have learned more about scripture than 11 years of CCD ever taught me. I have a new confidence in my faith and confidence in my ability to minister to others. I always have people ask me “You have four kids, you volunteer at school and church AND you are in diaconate formation with your husband? How do you do it all?” My answer is almost always, “I don’t know how it all gets done. It must be through the grace of God because I certainly couldn’t do it on my own!”

In supporting Jason on his path, I have gained a new appreciation for my Church. Our faith as a couple has increased and strengthened and provided us with a strong basis to withstand whatever trials will come our way.

My Talk #2

I don’t think any marriage or vocation talk would be complete without talking about children. I have some friends who want all of their children to be priests or nuns. I have other friends who want all of their children to get married so they can have lots of grandchildren. But I think instead of either of those mentalities, we should instead wonder what it is that God has in store for our children. What path does He want them to follow and how can I help my kids to open their hearts and have the strength to follow God’s will?

When my oldest son was in preschool his teacher was showing him how to type and print out a letter on the computer. What Darian typed was “When I grow up I want to be a priest at the abbey.” A few years later, in first grade, each child was given a paper with the words “When I grow up” across the top and they were supposed to draw a picture of what they wanted to be. These were hanging up on the wall at back to school night to surprise all the parents. Amidst all the firemen, policemen and astronauts is Darian’s picture of the sanctuary of Sacred Heart Church with the words “I want to be a priest” underneath. One evening, not long ago, we were discussing with our kids the idea of vocations and what God might be calling them to do. Darian, very definitely said he would be a priest. Sophia, our six year old, said maybe a doctor and a mommy. Sebastian, the four year old, thought for a second and then said “I want to be a ninja.” Every single person has a different vocation in life, and part of our job as parents is to help our children, even at an early age, learn to listen to what God wants from them.

Twice a month, I take my two youngest kids to a local convalescent home. When we were first invited, I was a little nervous as to how my 3 year old and 2 year old kids would react. The plan was to visit and pray a rosary. My kids ended up loving it and they now anxiously await the next time we visit the “Grandmas and Grandpas.” After one of our visits, Darian asked Sebastian if he had fun visiting grandmas and grandpas. Sebastian said “Yeah, it’s fun making people happy.” It’s a beautiful thing to see this little boy learning the joy of ministering to others. Through experiences like this I hope he learns to keep his heart open and listen to God’s call, even if it means not being a ninja.

1 comment:

Bianca said...

Loved the talks you posted!! One question: How do you pray a rosary with a 3 and 2 year old and have them sit still? I get so frustrated when I try to pray with them and they are all over the place. I get embarrassed to pray with them in public because of their lack of reverence. I need some good advice! :-)