Called to Be is a series of blog posts on the vocation of marriage, written by Melanie Jean Juneau. Our guest blogger – who is is the administrator of the Association of Catholic Women Bloggers, Editor in Chief for Catholic Stand, and regularly posts on joy of nine9 – shares with us her story and reflections. Catch up with the first article, Advice for People Who Are Dating and stay tuned for the next ones!
Our universal vocation as women is to love because “love is the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being” (CCC 2392).
Our secondary vocation is our job and our primary vocation is our specific state in life be it as a married, religious or single person. Just the idea that God has a plan for each of us should be thrilling. But modern Catholic women struggle with exactly how to live the teachings of the Church faithfully while remaining true to themselves as members of contemporary society. Youth are especially turned off by old-fashioned reflections on vocations which romanticise mothers but manage to leave them feeling patronised at the same time. Women whose heartfelt desire is to become mothers often feel dismissed and ridiculed for wanting to embrace this most sacred, natural role of women as nurturing mothers.
The problem with discerning a vocation is most women do not even have a sense everyone has a Divine purpose in life. Catholics have a vague idea only a few holy people are called by God for something special. Even worse, many are afraid to even begin to seek their vocation, fearing what God will force them to do. Any devout young Catholic girl, who has experienced encounters with the living God, assumes God wants her to be a nun.
Decades ago, I was secretly terrified Jesus would ask me to be a cloistered nun, especially when I heard the nearby monastic community of The Sisters of the Precious Blood, were interceding for me. A priest who was conducting a retreat at the monastery had asked me to share my conversion story after he met me at a university chaplain’s conference. I was shocked when he guided me through a latched iron gate in the chapel then turned a corner where I suddenly faced twenty sisters dressed in black veils, white tunics, and long scarlet scapulars, sitting in individual choir stalls, with their heads bowed in prayer. I had pictured sitting in a circle, sharing my story informally. Instead, I stood awkwardly, without a lectern, wearing a casual top, jeans, and sandals.
Soon these serene nuns were not just smiling but laughing; one sister actually doubled over with mirth when I recalled my grandfather’s horror at my conversion to the Catholic Church. “My God, how did she get herself into that mess?”, he asked my mother. After my talk, the priest warned me,“You have a wonderful gift but you must be careful not to become proud”. His words only confirmed my fear; I would soon be entering this contemplative, monastic community to make sure I became humble.
I wish I had been able to hear the words of Pope Francis as he constantly tells us a dedicated Christian life is one which sets us free to become fully who we are. “Do not be afraid of what God asks of you! It is worth saying `yes’ to God. In him, we find something new-joy“ (Pope Francis).
I couldn’t agree more because I know from experience the only path to a joyful life is rooted in communion with God and service to others. It was liberating to discover God had a plan for my life. For me, my vocation was to be married and become a mother of nine children.
Beloved – An essential spiritual companion for married and engaged couples