Tuesday, September 16, 2014

What I Rarely See at Vocation Fairs

The gym is full of chattering students, religious sisters in flowing habits, and friars joking around. Free candy sits on tables next to pamphlets about “Come and See” weekends for different religious orders. What’s missing in this picture?


On one occasion, at a “vocations fair,” I came across a Secular Franciscan table-a path for single and married people. But that’s been the extent of marriage booths I've encountered. Marriage is a vocation-so where is it at vocation fairs? Where’s the information about building holy relationships, NFP, and marriage enrichment? Where’s the information about chastity and purity in relationships? Where are the joyful married couples who seek to show others the holiness, unity, and strength necessary in marriage? Sadly, I am not surprised about this lack of marriage at vocation fairs-because there’s a weird ideology that goes around. One that I think of when I hear my least favorite petition at Mass (“For an increase of vocations to the priesthood and religious life, we pray to the Lord…”). For some crazy reason, people seem to forget that marriage is a vocation, and that we need to pray for more holy, strong marriages!

--Though I want to add here that today at 6:30 Mass, Fr. Nathan added marriage to the petition!!! Sadly, I was zoning out and missed it, but after Mass, Jacob and some of our engaged friends excitedly told me about it. Let’s hope that more priests do this!!!

There’s this idea that the “big” vocations are priesthood and religious life, and that most people, if they aren’t called to those, have the fallback option of marriage. So clearly, since marriage is just a fallback, and priests and religious are super-holy, married people don’t need to worry about holiness, right? (please note the sarcasm) I mean, two married people are concupiscent, imperfect individuals, but they don’t need the level of holiness that priests and religious have! They just need to communicate their needs and try to please each other, correct? ‘Cause this mentality has really gone well in our world…
According to a study done by Julissa Cruz for the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University:

The U.S. Marriage Rate is the number of women’s marriages per 1,000 unmarried women 15 years and older.
In 1920, it was 92.3%. Since 1970, the marriage rate has declined by almost 60%-about 31 marriages per 1,000 unmarried women take place.
In 1920, less than 1% of women were separated or divorced. Today, 15% women are separated or divorced.
The proportion of women married was highest in 1950 at ~65%. Today, less than half of women 15 and over are married-the lowest percentage since the turn of the century.

I don’t know about you, but I think we may need to start praying for those with a vocation to marriage. Whoa there, that’s crazy. I mean, everyone knows that we only pray for vocations to priesthood and religious life, since there’s a “vocations crisis.” Really. How are we ever going to have priests and religious in the future? By having good, strong, holy, sanctifying marriages!

It’s true that God calls some people to priesthood and religious life. And it’s true that He calls some people to marriage. Marriage is a vocation, and it’s pretty important. The family needs to be built on the foundation of a strong marriage-the couples have to maintain their unity, love, and communion, continually calling each other onto greater holiness. This isn’t the easiest thing in the world, and it’s actually a pretty insane concept, when you think of it. I once read a magazine article where a priest talked about marriage being like skiing—you put two skis (the imperfect individuals) together and plummet downhill at top speed, all the while helping each other grow in holiness and raising children.
According to St. Josemaria Escriva, founder of Opus Dei,

"Human love and marriage duties are part of one's divine vocation. I have spent almost forty years preaching the vocational meaning of marriage. More than once I have had occasion to see faces light up as men and women, who had thought that in their lives a dedication to God was incompatible with a noble and pure human love, heard me say that marriage is a divine path on earth! The purpose of marriage is to help married people sanctity themselves and others. For this reason they receive a special grace in the sacrament which Jesus Christ instituted. Those who are called to the married state will, with the grace of God, find within their state everything they need to be holy, to identify themselves each day more with Jesus Christ, and to lead those with whom they live to God." 

Photo courtesy of BBC Doctor Who.
To quote Amy Pond, “Changing the future. It’s called marriage.”
Incidentally, these two are one of my favorite fictional couples EVER!
They are the main reason why I love seasons 5-6 of Doctor Who.
It’s kind of funny (and sad) how the message of “marriage isn't a big vocation” is normal for so many people. When I've ranted to friends about it, and mention the petitions at Mass and vocation fairs, they've said, “Oh. That’s true…I've never noticed that!”
It’s time that we start noticing it.

It’s time we show people that marriage is a vocation. 

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