It’s an oft-mentioned word in our Catholic circles. It means our calling from God, and although there’s a ton of emphasis on the priesthood and religious life from the pulpit, in my home growing up, the vocation of marriage was definitely the assumed way I’d go.
But I wasn’t always so sure.
As a child, I was well-rounded. I enjoyed climbing trees and playing with roly polys, but also adored my dresses and bows. My favorite thing to do was play with my dolls and my kitchen set. I loved to play house. Sometimes, my dad would play the role of my baby, which always made me giggle. My mom had always wanted to be a wife and mother. In that game, I couldn’t wait to grow up and be a mommy, too. It was never something that I questioned; I simply knew that I was going to be one.
Fast-forward to 2000, and I met a woman named Angela Ausmus Gill. She was a young, on-fire youth minister who happened to be married to my also young, on-fire youth minister. I looked at them with admiration as a truly passionate Catholic couple who embodied what the vocation of marriage should be. She spoke of how her job was to get her husband to Heaven and to raise her children into saints.
I was then hit with a shocking statement from her.
She’d considered becoming a Carmelite nun and even went through formation before meeting her husband in a planning meeting. For whatever reason, I’d never considered this.
After that story, I thought, briefly, about how I wanted to serve God with my life. Possibilities included being a youth minister and being a nun initially. Then I realized that I wanted to be a wife and a mom one day. And that was it. That was me “discerning.” But discernment is much more than that. It isn’t about ME and what I want. It’s about what God is calling me to do; what has he written on my heart?
At that time, in high school, I was only playing with the idea of discernment.
Fast-forward eight years and I was a sometimes-Mass-attending Catholic who didn’t really participate in the sacraments, in a non-sacramental marriage with a baby on the way. As readers of this blog may know, this marriage was later annulled but I got a wonderful child in the person of Little Miss.
The next five years were a time of me trying to pick up the pieces and move on. I didn’t date. I was trying to get healthy and be the best mom I could be. I also discovered Catholic radio in this time period, and I began to delve into the catechesis and apologetics of it all. I was hooked on the Church.
Then, in those pre-annulment days, I prayed a lot. I prayed that God would bless my future husband as well as my ex-husband. And then it hit me that there might not be a future husband.
Although I felt called to be a mother to my daughter, and to become a wife and mother to more children, I knew that I needed to address my failed marriage with the Church. I didn’t want to start dating if the Church said that I wasn’t eligible to marry again. I went through the annulment process and was granted a decree of nullity.
I then met Rachel and joined Catholic Match. I “talked” to a few guys and then met my first post-mommy boyfriend. We dated for nine months and I was constantly praying and asking if this was the guy for me. I was asking for God to lead me and ultimately, I learned that he was not.
In the next two months, my prayers changed. I was then asking God “Am I called to be a wife? Obviously, I’m already a mother, but are you calling me to the vocation of being single?” It was difficult for me to hear his answer, which I thought might mean that he was saying yes. I worked on trying to be okay with that, and got to a point where I was willing to accept whatever calling, regardless of what that meant for me as a wife.
Then I met Superman.
The Vocation of Marriage, Take 2?
It sounds cheesy, but shortly after meeting Superman, I knew he was going to be my husband. It wasn’t the butterflies or the way he made me feel, either. It was how I saw God’s hand all over our relationship, in every aspect. This was God, finally answering my prayers after asking me to wait patiently in the silence.
This section is titled “The Vocation of Marriage, Take 2?” because my first marriage wasn’t a response to a vocation. It wasn’t a sacrament. I didn’t invite God into it. It was merely a civil contract, and I’m not sure that I’d even call it a marriage, because it was so far from what my vocation as a wife actually is.
This is my vocation here, right now. It’s the first shot at it, and it’s the only one, because Superman and I are 100% committed to it and our vows.
Being Superman’s wife IS my primary vocation. The two of us are called to work in partnership to help one another get to Heaven. That’s the goal. I am to submit (read: be under (sub) his mission for our family). We do this by actively speaking about our family goals, discussing them, and discerning. Kisses, housework (which is divided among all of our family members as a team), meal planning, cooking (which we also divide among us), time together, prayer…this is my vocation.
Sometimes it’s easier than others.
Some days, I don’t want to be home with housework while he’s staying late at work. But I do it. Because he’s staying late at work to provide for our family. And next week, the shoe might be on the other foot. And then he’ll do it, too. My vocation isn’t asking me to keep score. It’s asking me to share equally all of life’s ups and downs.
It isn’t asking me to compare him to the husbands of my friends, the husbands I see in church and assume things about, or the husbands on TV. I didn’t marry them. I married Superman. My vocation is asking me to show him a little grace when he’s a little grumpy rather than complain about him. I’m called to sacrifice for him, too, just as he’s called to do for me.
This is my vocation, in its beautiful, simple glory. And from this vocation, springs my role of mom. In that, I am called to care for Little Miss and Belle, as well as whoever else comes along. I hope to get them to Heaven as well. But this is not my primary vocation. It is a beautiful fruit of my primary vocation.
Sometimes, we get caught up in schedules and kids and work and neglect our husbands (I’ve been guilty of that, too!). This we need to fight against. This marriage is our vocation. It requires work every day; but anything worth having requires a little bit of effort.
Where are you on your journey? Have you discerned your own vocation? Are you in it and struggling? Leave us a comment below to let us know, as we’d love to pray for and encourage you in your vocation. Also, don’t forget to head over to the CWBN Sienna Sisters Blog Hop on Reconciled to You to read other Catholic bloggers’ insights into the topic of vocations.
I was sitting perfectly still and listening to the beautiful voices singing City of God. I sat there and was thinking how wonderful is God to make people have beautiful voices and to sing about him. I was 6 at the time and really had no idea how my faith would grow into a deep and meaningful relationship with God. There are so many points that I want to shout it out to the whole wide world on why I love my Catholic faith. Seeing as how we don’t have all the time in the world, I am just going to jot down a few of the main things that I love.
God is so loving and understanding that he calls for conversion and penance. When my heart is heavy with my sins, I take a good hard look at my conscience. It teaches me to really take responsibility for my actions and make the decision to try and live better. When I confess my sins, I feel that my heart is lighter and it teaches me to focus on trying to do better going forward. I truly love that we get the chance to continue working with God to make ourselves better.
I love all of our rich, traditional prayers. I love that our faith has prayers that everyone knows and says in all different languages. I think there is beauty in knowing that all around the world, people are praying the same as you. I also love praying when it’s just God and me. My personal relationship with God is so much stronger when I spend time with him and in his word. Having adoration and sitting in front of the holy presence is not only calming but to be able to praise God…? Wow. My childhood priest always said that humbling yourself in front of the Lord is the beginning foundation of great communication with God.
“Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God” St. John Damascene
I love going to Mass. It is the highlight of my week. I love the aspect that the Mass is the same throughout the world. Another amazing and wonderful thing is that I get to receive the body and blood of Christ. I’m also able to have fellowship with others sharing the same experience. I love celebrating all of our sacraments. Receiving Jesus Christ in the Eucharist is something so extraordinary and special. When we give offer one another the sign of peace, I’m actively spreading God’s love to my church family, which inspires having a sense of community and sharing the Good News throughout the week.
Don’t forget to check out the rest of the participating posts in this month’s hop at Reconciled to You.
Holiness is what we are all struggling to attain. In this month’s CWBN Blog Hop, we share a list of different ways to pray in an attempt to get us further along the road to holiness.
Offering Up Some Intercession
Ask God for others. This is where you come to God and bring other people’s joy, concerns, fears, hopes, and struggles. Read about how we used insomnia to be intercessors for others here.
Lord, today I bring you the readers of this blog, the members of our online community; I ask that you be with them today and help them to see you in their day. Help them to grow closer to you, Lord, and hear their intentions. Amen.
Asking for Some Intercession
Conversely, when we’re in need of prayer, we should not be too prideful to ask others to intercede for us. In the Catholic Church, that means fellow parishioners, family members, friends, and the communion of saints in Heaven who have gone before us.
Lord, I am struggling today. You know what’s on my heart. Help me to swallow my pride and reach out to those I love to help me through prayer and assistance. Amen.
Have you ever heard that Bible stands for “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth?” It’s a cheesy thing I saw on a T-shirt one time, but the truth of the matter is that we should be reading the Bible daily. It’s the Word of God, so we should spend time in it, learn it, know it, seek comfort in it, and allow God to talk to us through it.
Lord, I have neglected taking time to spend in Your Word. Help me to delve into this vast resource and be in conversation with you. Speak to me through these words, Jesus. Amen.
Tasks & Chores
In our podcast entitled “Finding God in the Bubbles,” we share about how chores can be acts of love and acts of prayer. Not only can the act itself be a prayer, we can pray while doing them. Say the Lord’s prayer while the water boils. Sing a song of praise and worship while you unload and reload the dishwasher. OR, make this time of doing the chores you really dislike a time to be thankful.
Lord, I am grateful. Thank you for my blessings. The dirty dishes mean that my family has enough to eat and is not going hungry. Thank you. The laundry means we are able to dress appropriately. Thank you. The vacuum cleaner running means I live in a shelter, with warmth and light. Thank you. Amen.
Service: the Hands and Feet of Christ
Sometimes we are able to work at a soup kitchen, bringing food to the hungry. Other times, we have change to give when asked by someone we pass by. We can donate good clothing and household items to charity. All of this is service to others. So, too, however, is calling your lonely neighbor and being present with them. Picking up the phone and inviting the elderly couple from church or the young college student from Bible study over for dinner is also an act of service.
Lord Jesus,open my heart to others. Inspire me to see their humanity and to reach out to them. Help me be a reflection of your light to others. Help me be your hands and feet on Earth. Amen.
This post was written as part of the CWBN Sienna Sisters Blog Hop for the month of May. This month we’re all blogging about different ways to pray. Check out the other amazing Catholic Women Bloggers Network posts
Today we are once again participating in the CWBN Sienna Sisters Blog Hop series entitled “My True Feelings about Confession.” I love confession. If you’ve been with us for a while, you already know that. If you’re new to the blog or want a refresher, check out Reconciliation: God’s Mercy Made Tangible. You may recall that Little Miss recently made her first reconciliation. Since you’ve already heard my take on this awesome sacrament, I decided to ask Little Miss to share her true feelings about confession. Spolier alert: I love that she—an innocent child—can see the beauty within this sacrament, as I do.
K: Tell me how you felt after you made your first reconciliation.
LM: I felt like the greatest person in the whole entire world, because I was free of sin. I don’t know why, I just did. It must’ve been the Holy Spirit.
K: Do you look forward to going to confession again? Why?
LM: Yes, I do. Every single time I do. Because of what I just told you—I mean, it just feels great to get all the sins out. I felt like a whole new person. It’s kind of crazy, but it’s actually really, really awesome at the same time. I think I would actually be really sad if confession didn’t exist.
K: Did you know some people are afraid to go to confession? What advice would you give to someone like that?
LM: No. Um…I’d just say…I don’t know. Um, I guess I would say not to be afraid because it’s the greatest thing in the world.
K: You keep saying that it’s “the greatest thing in the world.” Can you describe it in other ways? Like, what is confession better than?
LM: Anything…in the world, really. Except for God. I think it’s even better than his beautiful creations—except for, like, the Holy Family and angels.
K: Wow. Even better than his creations? I know you love sunrises and sunsets. Confession is better than those?
K: Let’s say you had a friend who was about to make her first confession after ten years. Let’s say she’s nervous and a little scared to go to confession. What would you tell her?
LM: I guess the same thing I’d say to someone if it was their first time making confession, except I’d try to comfort her a little more, because she’d be embarrassed about it, I think.
K: Okay…so what would you say?
LM: I think I’d just say, “There’s nothing to worry about. I felt the same way before I made my first confession, and then afterward, I felt like the greatest person ever, so take my advice. Oh, and there’s not going to be cake and punch after every time, but there will be after the first time.”
In our house, we push the ideas of forgiveness, mercy, and reconciliation (see For the Love of All Things Holy about one way we push those ideas) in all things that we do. We actively practice this because Christ actively practiced it. For our family, we don’t just apologize, we ask for one another’s forgiveness and we grant it freely. There are, of course, additional conversations that coincide with that depending on the issue.
It stands to reason, then, that we make going to confession to receive God’s mercy a family affair. We love to go together, pray our penance together, and then feel “like the greatest” as a family. It resets us with God and it resets our demeanor with one another.
Especially during this penitential season of Lent, receiving the sacrament of penance is wonderful. It’s freeing, therapeutic, and helps you grow closer to the Living God. Both Little Miss and I urge you to go to confession soon.
P.S. Little Miss was nervous for this to be posted, but so excited to share her perspective with our readers. Would you share your thoughts on this post with us? Don’t forget to check out the other blog posts in the CWBN Blog Hop here.
We absolutely love Lent and are so excited to share how we prepare for this somber and reflective season! Why do we love the season in which we deny ourselves caffeine and chocolate? Short answer? Because it’s so much more than that. What’s more is that today, this post is part of the CWBN Sienna Sisters Blog Hop and we’re all talking about Lent! You can check out the other posts in the series here. We’re all about sharing the love for Lent today!
Kristi: I have love for Lent because…
It’s a renewal of sorts. We’re knee-deep in the throes of the Winter Blues, wanting the spring that’s around the corner to be made manifest and things have become sloppy since we made our New Year’s Resolutions. Patience is running thinner, our domestic church tends to flounder a little bit here, and my prayer life is losing its luster. Lent is the ideal time to pause, assess, and fix those things. It’s the season of forgiveness and mercy. Plus, I’m a sucker for the chanting and reflection that accompanies the Stations of the Cross. Lent is a BIG deal in our house.
Lent is my favorite season for reflecting and having quiet moments with God. Preparing for Lent is really life changing in our home. The Scientist and I want our home to reflect that we are a Catholic home and we are not afraid to spread the word of God. We read in article a couple of years ago, that our domestic church should reflect the teachings of the church. We looked around and realized that we had cute sayings, and knick knacks but they didn’t mean or remind us of our daily walk with God. That really hit us. During Lent, we intentionally design our home to reflect our longing and desire to be in good standing with the Lord. We decided to start decorating every liturgical season. How we prepare for our favorite the Lenten Season is simple and easy.
Every year, I want to make sure that I am modeling the pillars to Little Miss: prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and abstinence. I know that at age seven, she’s not bound by quite the same practices that I am; however, in our home…she is. She’s at the mercy of Superman and me as to our abstaining from meat, since we’re the cooks. She is allowed to plan out her own fasting, as we do, and her own almsgiving. While we encourage prayer as a family, we also encourage individual prayer. We have a beautiful tool that we’ve used for five years to help us keep things on track—and it’s lovely.
We feel that we should prepare our home, domestic church, hearts, and everyday thinking for the Death and Resurrection of Christ. We may not do it perfectly, but we put our hearts in it. We know that we can never come close to the Sacrifice of God. By preparing praying spaces, reminders of the sacrifice, and sacrificing ourselves we find that we have a deeper bond with God.
This is our first married Lent together, but we did spend a great deal of time with one another last year as we celebrated our only engaged Lent together. Outside of Advent and Christmas, we tend to be minimalistic in décor, but we do occasionally allow the dishes to pile up, or the laundry to defy gravity and attempt to reach the ceiling. Sometimes our mail overtakes the entryway and there’s the sporadic pile of shoes near our doorway, too.
For us, our first step is to remember that we like organization in our home (see this post on The War Zone). The next step is to actually get there. The shoes stop being dropped at the door and picked up. The mail is organized and dealt with as it is delivered. The laundry and dishes are done frequently, as is the dusting, sweeping, Sharking (like a mop, but it’s steam and so much cooler!), and vacuuming. The canvas that is the backdrop for our Lenten practices (i.e. our home) becomes clean and inviting.
From there, as we lead up to Lent, we have conversations about what we’re going to “give up” for Lent. We write these goals on the back of a poster board (as well as that which we’re going to take on, which usually ties in to prayer). On the front of this poster board, we make our Lenten Tree. This is our accountability tool. It’s a trunk with many branches, drawn by one of the adults and colored by Little Miss. On the top, it says Lenten Tree. On the sides are Bible verses dealing with sacrifice, fasting, abstinence, almsgiving, and/or prayer. Note: next week we’re going to share what exactly our Lenten journey for this year will be, and there will be more specifics on how this works there.
We like to do our Spring Cleaning before we put anything up. This always takes place the week before Ash Wednesday (so this week!). We love to deep clean our home, and get rid of the grime. We wash everything from the windows, to out back, to the shed. We put away all clothes that we deem in wonderful shape but no longer loved and get them ready to donate.
We organize the house so we can have space to have our at-home Stations of the Cross up. We also buy some white candles at a discount store. We like to put them on our home altar and around our house. We fill some of our candle holders with sand and we put little toothpicks in them to remind us of Jesus’ impending crucifixion. Like Kristi and Superman, we like to have our home minimally decorated—especially this season.
This season is about focusing and preparing for the death—and ultimately the resurrection—of Jesus. We do this by using additional candles in our prayer space (and home), praying the Stations of the Cross, fully utilizing our home altar, and also having a Lenten Tree. We have multiple copies of the Bible around to read and we have different books out for guests to look over as well as a deck of cards and conversation cards for family game time on nights when there is no TV (similar to our set-up at Advent, which you can read here). This year, we’re also adding a Bean Jar. Note: as mentioned above, there will be more on this in our post detailing how we’re “Lenting” in 2017.
How do you prepare your home and domestic church for the penitential season of Lent? Let us know in the comments below. We love getting ideas from you on how to spruce up our routines and deepen our faith journey during this season. Need ideas for Fridays during Lent? Check out last week’s post on Meals Sans Meat here. Don’t forget to join the conversation on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram using #HowWeLent and #HowILent and check out our Lent board on Pinterest!
Rachel & Kristi