By Fr. Hien Nguyen
2. Vocation Culture in the Family
2.1 Domestic Church: The Foundation
Pope John Paul II in many of his writings and homilies has mentioned numerously that “the Christian family is the first place where vocations develop. It is a seminary or novitiate in germ.” In light of this it is vital for families to nurture, encourage, and promote vocations. Pope J.P. II described the family in his writings often as the domestic Church where the parents have the responsibility and right through their union of love give birth to their children and provide them the basic rights, needs, faith and charity in cooperation with God to build His kingdom. In the Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio Pope J.P. II expressed this point beautifully:
For Christian parents the mission to educate, a mission rooted, as we have said, in their participation in God’s creating activity, has a new specific source in the sacrament of marriage, which consecrates them for the strictly Christian education of their children: that is to say, it calls upon them to share in the very authority and love of God the Father and Christ the Shepherd, and in the motherly love of the Church, and it enriches them with wisdom, counsel, fortitude and all the other gifts of the Holy Spirit in order to help the children in their growth as human beings and as Christians.
It is in this domestic Church where a child is first developed and learned the basic human dignity. Home is not intrinsically the physical building but the foundation that builds through the members of the family. “It is here that the father of the family, the mother, children, and all members of the family exercise the priesthood of the baptized in a privileged way by the reception of the sacraments, prayer and thanksgiving, the witness of a holy life, and self-denial and active charity. Thus the home is the first school of Christian life and a school for human enrichment. Here one learns endurance and the joy of work, fraternal love, generous – even repeated – forgiveness, and above all divine worship in prayer and the offering of one’s life.”
There are two necessary and immediate steps we can take to foster the vocation culture in the family. First, we need to teach our children to pray. Second, we need to help our children to cultivate a spirit of willingness to make a sacrifice and self-denial. To be continued
John Paul II, Homily in Pune – Apostolic Pilgrimage to India, February 10, 1986,7.
Vatican Council II, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, ed. Flannery,
A., New York 1996, 362, n.11.
John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio, Rome November 22, 1981, n. 38.
The Catechism of Catholic Church, New York 1994, 462, n. 1657.