How can I encourage vocations among my children?
Dear Fr Anthony,
I would be so happy if one of my sons decides to become a priest or my daughter wants to become a sister. Only my youngest seems open. How should I approach conversations about this topic with them? This son says, "If I were to become a priest...", and I listen and encourage his thought process. What about the other two who are more closed? Does that mean they are not being called? Thanks.
Funny things can happen inside children. At times the one who is acting like he is not interested when you are preaching to the others is precisely the one that is really taking it in.
In educating your children to be open to God, it is important that they see your example. They will absorb your priorities in the thousand ways you reflect them during your day, and most probably they will in time make them their own.
So, be what you are supposed to be. Without being artificial about it, let them see you pray, teach them to pray, teach them the example of Jesus, teach them about Mary, and relate it to their lives. Direct and encourage everything that is good. Correct what is wrong. Weather their tantrums and stay fast and teach. Help them to grow, according to their age, in their relationship with God and knowledge of their faith. Challenge them appropriately. Lives of the saints are a great source of inspiration for children (and not only for children!). What you are really doing is preparing the ground so that at the moment God begins to give them a hint of what he has in mind for them, they will be able to recognize it and be in dispositions to respond, have principles of faith to guide them, love to move them, and strength of character to be able to do what might be difficult.
As regards the vocation directly, do not push it on them, but do not be silent, either. Answer questions, at times bring them up yourself, and raise the possibility. It seems to me that what you are doing will be helpful to them.