Monday, January 31, 2011

God Is Calling Me To Marriage

This is the article that I wrote for last year's seminary magazine "The Journey 2010". When I first proposed the title of the article, I got many puzzled looks and jokes about whether I was going through a vocation crisis. Read the article to find out more.

Wedding ringsI once asked a boy in a confirmation camp, what was stopping him from being holy. And his reply was “I don’t want to become a priest”. That answer surprised me. But when I got that same answer from another boy at that camp, it got me thinking. Why was holiness exclusive to the Priesthood? It seems that for those boys, if one were to be holy, it was because he was thinking of becoming a priest, which means that a normal lay person does not have to be holy, or at least not so holy. Sadly this view is shared by many Catholics,

Call to Holiness
In that same line, if I were to ask a young person today “have you discerned your vocation?”, often the answer would be, “no lah, I don’t think that God is calling me to be a priest/nun” The word “vocation” has come to be synonymous with the priesthood and religious life. Partly it could be that the usage of the word has always been linked to priesthood and religious life. Think of terms like “Vocation Sunday” and “Vocation Promotion Team”.

Part of my journey in my renewal of faith in 2003 was to discover what it meant to be Catholic, what it meant to be a disciple of the Lord. I learnt from the Parable of the Rich Young Man (Mt 19:16-22), that it was not just about keeping the commandments, but to follow Christ. And it was in the Lord’s Prayer that I found my answer – “your will be done on earth as it is heaven”. Having prayed that prayer so many times, I realised that it is not an abstract prayer that somewhere, sometime and someone will do God’s will, but that I as Christian, am praying that I may do the Lord’s will in my life. I knew then that I had to discern my vocation. To grow in holiness meant doing the Lord’s will, which meant discerning and living out the call, the vocation that He had made me for.

The Call to Marriage
One of the most common questions I get asked is "how do you know that God is calling you to priesthood?" Recently I have tried a new response to that question. If the one asking is a married person, I would ask them "how do you know that God called you to marriage?" Often the response would be a blank stare or forced laughter. Sometimes the honest ones will say they never really discerned or that they were not that holy when they got married. Then I would ask them how they are living out their marriage vocation now. Silence again.

Vocation Crisis
We often hear that the Church is facing a Vocation Crisis, because of the dwindling numbers entering the priesthood and religious life. But I believe the real Crisis in Vocations is that our Catholics have stopped believing that God has a Will for each and everyone. If our married couples do not see their marriage as part of their call from God to live a life of holiness, are they truly living out a married vocation? Or is their marriage just the same as any non-Catholic marriage.

If every young person were to be asking God “Lord, how do you want me to live my life?”, I am sure that not only will we have more priestly and religious vocations. We will have stronger marriages and better Catholic families where the faith is lived out.

God is Calling Me to Marriage
In my ministry, I have had the privilege of meeting some couples who have shared how God called them to the marriage vocation. But the number of them are fewer than the number of seminarians we have in the seminary. My wish is for all young people to discover God’s call in their lives, so that they will be able to grow in holiness. And also for those who are already married, to find out and live out their marriage as a vocation. It is a call to love, to serve, to lay down their lives for their spouse, for their family, and be the light of Christ in the world.

To read the rest of the articles in the Journey 2010, you can download the pdf version at this link.

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