Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Thoughts on My Vocation: Marriage #Catholic

This past Sunday, we had our Diocesan Director of Vocations give the homily. He focused on the vocation of priesthood, but also mentioned other vocations, including marriage. He said that whatever vocation we had, it included the salvation of souls.

This is where a Catholic understanding of vocation comes into play. When I was attending the non-denominational churches, it was taught that marriage was a blessing. I don't believe it was presented as "a calling" because everyone had the opportunity to be married, including leadership. I do remember that because I was single for so long, I was starting to think that was my calling. I believe my Catholic upbringing contributed to this view.

On Sunday, I had a revelation. I knew that by marrying, I was entering into a covenant relationship where I would love and serve my husband. But I never really saw it as a vocation, even though Catholicism defines marriage in that way. Suddenly, I saw it as a vocation just as Mother Teresa saw her life serving the poor in India as a vocation, just as a priest or nun views their life as a vocation. I suddenly realized that I was called to love and serve my husband as though he were Christ Himself. And by doing so, I would become a vessel of God's grace to my husband and instrumental in the salvation of his soul.

This may seem like an "of course!" moment for my Catholic friends. But on Sunday, I just sat there in the pew stunned and overwhelmed by this vocation. Each person has great value in the sight of God. So many times, it can be tempting to view the life of a religious and think, "Well, they're a shepherd over a huge flock (the parish or monastery) and that is so much more important than what I'm doing." But we are called to love and serve individuals. Even priests and nuns must deal with people individually, one at a time, and love them as they are called to do so by God.

I have always looked outward to "groups" when I've thought of vocations and service. Most of my life has been spent with groups and that is the prism I've used to view my obedience to God's call to love one another. But never have I really thought of it as loving an individual.

I truly adore my husband. I love him so much and feel so blessed to have him. However, we have differences of opinion like any other couple. There have been times when I have not treated him well; often losing my temper as I over-react or misinterpret something he said. (Believe me, fodder for the confessional...) But now I am seeing Christ in him. It is the same as when Mother Teresa was asked how she could love the unlovable in India's caste system. She responded that she saw in their faces the face of her Lord and Savior. Jesus Christ appears to us in many ways. We are called to love no matter what form He may take. For whatever reason, I never connected that to a spouse.

So my new perspective has led me to this: would I treat Christ this way? Would I speak to Christ in such a tone? Would I ignore Christ when He spoke to me? I realize that although my husband is not Catholic, I am to love and serve him as though he was the greatest saint who ever lived. (And living with me, he just may be.) The call to love in this manner is indeed overwhelming enough to send me to my knees in prayer. I admit I've prayed that my husband would be drawn to God and attend church. But those prayers have definitely outnumbered the amount of times I prayed that I would love and serve my husband as though he was Christ in my midst.

I don't know of any good Catholic books about the vocation of marriage, especially written for wives, but if there are, please let me know. I'll be searching of course on my own, but any recommendations will be greatly appreciated. This is going to be my vocation for the rest of my life, until either I pass on or my husband. I want to make sure I answer the call fully.


Janny said...

Mary Rose--

Look up Greg Popcak's books, especially For Better...Forever! He's a little crazy at times, and some people think he's too flippant, but I think you would enjoy his down-to-earth style.

As far as a "vocation" to marriage goes, I was always flabbergasted when the priests speaking on vocations would look into the congregation and say, "Boy, am I glad I'm a priest. I've got it EASY. You married people? YOU'RE the ones with the really challenging vocation. I don't know how you all do it."

This never fails to make me feel better on those occasions when I fall short. :-)

Have a good one!

mwa said...

I would recommend Alice von Hildebrand's By Love Refined; an easy read, but with much to ponder and inspire.

Ebeth said...

Dr. Hildebrand books...the Priviledge of being Woman..is good. However, most encyclicals like the Dignity of Woman" would be of great help to you as well. Check them out.