Monday, August 16, 2010

The Sacrament of Confession and Vocations

Over the weekend, Fr. Z posted a link to 'Transfiguration Today' on the impact of the Sacrament of Confession has on vocations to the prieshtood.

Fr. Bill Baer posted three ways the Sacrament helps to promote vocations:

Specifically, a good confession is the source of a good vocation in at least three ways:

1. God has forgiven me! I recognize His divine, generous, merciful love in this confession, and now my heart wishes to offer generous love toward Him in return.

2. God has forgiven me! Now I wish for others to taste and see this same mercy, perhaps by means of a priestly vocation, through which I might be a channel of God’s ministry of reconciliation to countless others.

3. God has forgiven me! Even though my sins cling to me so closely, and I consider myself far from ready to enter a vocation of celibacy, of religious poverty, chastity, and obedience … nevertheless, I have witnessed Christ Jesus beginning a good work in me in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, a work that might one day be brought to perfection!

These simple statements could not be more true. Any response of a vocation has this same progression:

1) an awareness that, despite one's sins, God still has a powerful and dynamic love for you; and He calls us all to greatness, no matter the vocation.

2) a desire to share: When one experiences this deep and profound Love of God, it is, in a sense, too grand to keep to one's self, it must be shared. This is the example of the saints whose striving for holiness attracted others to imitate them.

3) perfection in Christ: perhaps the most difficult, but slowly the realization dawns, sometimes not until after one is ordained, married, professed, that God is able to marvelous things through you. Not because you are particularly talented or gifted, but rather that the desire has been fostered to echo John the Baptist: HE must increase, I must decrease. In other words, let the Spirit flow where He will, try to stay out of the way and go along for the ride.

Finally, Fr. Baer has these words of wisdom:

If your parish is attempting to promote vocations among your young people, don’t waste your time on slick and silly programs. Get the youth back into God’s good graces. Get them back within earshot of the Holy Spirit.

God does the calling, we have to provide opportunities for Him to meet these young souls, souls in growth, souls open to a unique and powerful Grace. Certainly, the Confessional (in addition to periods of Adoration) is an opportune place for this encounter to happen.

1 comment:

Lee G said...

"I often receive many questions about resources for young families to help form their boys for a potential vocation, or at least open them up to the idea that God might be calling them to something different and unique."

You do??!!

If families (fathers esp) would a) get the Culture of Distraction (TV, the Sunday paper esp) OUT and b) get the Culture of Vocation (the Lives of the Saints, good secular literature and the Baltimore Catechism) IN, the vocations problem would solve itself totally within about fifteen years.

We had a couple of vocations in our little family without necessarily intending to. We threw the TV out 30 yrs ago for reasons that were overwhelmingly obvious even then. Every evening for about twelve years we a) read good secular literature such as The Chronicles of Narnia for 30 minutes; b) read a life of a saint (book length, not 3 page treacly excerpts from Butler's); c) and studied the Baltimore Catechism for about 20 minutes.

In so many lives of the saints we ran across this theme, "When Johnny was a little boy, his mother used to read to him from the gospels and the lives of the saints." That essentially is the way that the Cure of Ars by Trochu opens, the life of St. John Vianney, the patron of priests. It also was a theme in the life of St. Regis, of St. Gerard Majella and Solanus Casey. This accomplished, I am convinced, what C.S. Lewis calls the Baptism of the Imagination. Once that happens, the world is seen through a different lens.

Our work with the Baltimore Catechism established the fact that for us the faith is super important, beyond imparting a very solid grounding in the faith.

Our prayer life was comparatively perfunctory consisting of the Salve Regina or the Shield of St. Patrick at the end of the day- and off to bed you go.

In this program winter, rain, darkness and cold were our dearest friends and shepherded our children into our home in the evening. Someone would say, "Okay, let's read!"...and we were off! We had a blast. We had a great time. Never have I felt more a father than when reading to my children. We had a prayerful, peaceful, joyful home. It was wonderful, Thanks be to God! It was all- ALL- His doing.

What can I say? It worked. If you are interested, I wrote up a much longer account of this for our own archives.