Friday, December 13, 2013

In Preparation for Our Vocations...

Our vocations are our paths as Christians, leading to our sanctification, and the sacraments of Holy Orders and Holy Matrimony serve as outward signs of the interior grace that begins this journey for priests and married couples.

 No one is born into marriage. That's just not how the sacraments work. We are reborn of water and the Spirit as to be freed from the bonds of original sin and to enter the Church, the Body of Christ through which is dispensed grace in the sacraments. Only on the day that the bride and groom exchange vows witnessed by a priest (or a deacon in the Latin Church) and at least two others do they leave their parents and become one flesh. The same is true of Holy Orders. Only when one is ordained a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek is one a priest, and at deaconing as well, as regards the diaconate.

So then, how does one prepare for this? I would like especially to focus on the married life, since that's what I am drawn to.

By being who we are, that's how. The qualities of our existence are relative to those around us. I am a child of God, created in His image and likeness. I am my parents' son, my brother and sister's (eldest) brother. I am my grandparents' grandchild, and so on as far as my family is concerned. Genetically speaking, I am related closest to my siblings and then my parents. I am my friend's friend. For all I know, I might even be someone's closest friend or best friend. Interesting, isn't it, when one considers that the Holy Trinity is relative: God the Father is only Father in relation to the Son and the Holy Spirit, for He is the begetter (and first origin of the Holy Spirit), God the Son is only Son because He is Begotten, and the Holy Spirit is only Spirit for He proceeds. So be the best of whatever relative thing, for lack of a better word, that you are.

Be the best child you can be. Honor your mother and father says the Fourth Commandment. That's hard. We always think we know better than our parents, and neither child nor parent grapples well with learning the nuances of the other's personality. But we must get out of ourselves and accept it, not necessarily understanding it. Your parents in a way are an earthly stand-in for God and our mother, Our Lady. Honor your parents so that you might better serve the Lord through Our Lady. It's often said that women look at the way men treat their mother, and this reflects the way they'll be treated in marriage. Hmm. It's hard, but we need to treat our parents well.

Be the best brother or sister you can be. Your siblings are here so that you can love them, through all the trying times, through all the difficulties and ensuing clashes in personality. One should try not to let another's faults and failings get to them. We should build each other up in the spiritual life and give each other a hand in the world. Help with laundry, help with the other's homework, share dish duty so your parents don't have to do it. Support one another emotionally. It's rough being a kid in today's world. Cliques were a part of my elementary school, sadly, and the hypersexuality of the mass-media seems to be getting worse and worse. Social media can be great. My not-so-baby sister likes a lot of pro-life pages and Catholic pages, and mostly uses it to keep up with her good friends. But other people her age use it for "ratchet" stuff. (Ratchet being a slang word that is apparently a mispronunciation of wretched, especially in reference to trashy things.). Last night, speaking of my sister, we prayed the Rosary, and I looked at my sister and just prayed, "Please Lord,do not let my little sister and brother be damned." I would feel as if I failed as a brother if I did.

 Not just getting along with one's siblings but trying to help them reach God is a work of Christian charity. When you fall down, pick yourself back up to begin again.
Nunc coepi! — now I begin! This is the cry of a soul in love which, at every moment, whether it has been faithful or lacking in generosity, renews its desire to serve — to love! — our God with a wholehearted loyalty. -St. Josemaria Escriva, Furrow (The Struggle, no. 161). 
 Be the best friend you can be, taking what one learned with one's siblings into the world. Put it to use with those to whom we are called to be brethren to in Christ. If you are an only child, you don't have a frame of reference to work from, so it might be harder. This stepping outside of oneself is thus an immensely important and spiritually rewarding task. I've always understood that God rewards us more when we do a 180 towards Him in a way that is more challenging for us than for others, but that He also greatly rewards long perseverance.

Put up with their difficulties and just be there for them, even in silence while listening to their complaints. To modify something from Finding Nemo, "just keep breathing, just keep breathing..."

From Fr. Blake
For those of us with siblings, show what it means to be a brother or sister to those who don't have any by blood or for those who need a little help in relationships with friends and siblings. Give entirely of yourself, without condition or reservation. Do not be trapped inside of oneself. Be unflinchingly loyal, even if that means heartbreak when one has to step away physically. Remain always in prayer for them.

The definition of Divine Revelation is not just God listing qualities or information about Himself. It is the story of God's words and deeds throughout human history in which He reveals His very essence, Love, in the Incarnate Son of God, who died for the "expiation of our sins." (cf. 1 Jn. 4). As God brought Israel back to the Law, He made promises which were kept in the life and Paschal Mystery of Our Lord.

If we are called to know God for Who He is, then we should try our bests to know our friends for who they are. That doesn't mean being close to everyone. Not everyone is in our lives for that purpose. But some are, and get to know who they are.

As far as marriage is concerned: hang out with men and women who will build you up. Each group is essential I think for this exercise, for one can be built up and corrected in different ways from both sexes (Yes, sexes.) so that one will be a better spouse when that time comes.

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