From the start, my husband and I agreed that we wanted a large family, a family where God and each other come first. We both also hold the vocation to marriage and family life as one of great dignity and feel blessed that God would call us to one another and to this path.
Being a parent is a paradoxical situation. One finds oneself living a Divine vocation (in the truest sense of the Latin vocare, to call), yet the vocation’s very demanding nature makes it more difficult to meet God in the ways previously available. For many of us, no more is the era of daily Mass, or mid-day holy hours, or the ever present opportunity for sacramental Confession.
In the most difficult moments, the call can even seem something like this, “Come follow me, but from now on I’ll only be able to hang out for about an hour on Sunday. And, oh, yeah, don’t forget to bring your restless, writhing, crying children with you.” Maybe this is an exaggeration. Maybe. But I know that I’m not the only parent out there who feels a shortage of alone time, a shortage of peace, of quiet, a shortage of energy, be it physical or emotional, at the end of a long day.
I think first we must realize that one’s spiritual life will change, specifically the manner of prayer and the forms of sacrifice. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
He called and you answered, and each day lived in one’s vocation is a continuation, an expansion of that conversation. Daily life becomes the sacrifice, the mortification, and a much more complete one than a voluntary fast could ever be. Why more complete? Because it is full of particular sacrifices asked at a moment’s notice; sacrifices not correspondent to any feeling, but one from outside, requests for acquiescence in the ongoing conversation that is one’s vocation.
These prayers and mortifications are all night vigils with feverish children, weeks upon weeks of morning sickness, meeting a spouse where they are rather than insisting on being “right.” They are the desperate cries of the heart to be a better parent and spouse as one routinely faces his or her own imperfections. These prayers and mortifications are too numerous and too varied to list, and that’s part of the point.
This vocation is often an uncomfortable one, but these struggles are our opportunity to follow Him. And it’s in these struggles that Christ hastens to meet us with His grace, His mercy, and His strength.
So take heart.
To stay focused on this truth, and to remember that yours is a Divine call (despite the nitty gritty), it helps to have a simple prayer routine in place. For example, start the day with a morning offering and a read through of the day’s Mass readings. End the day with a few minutes of quiet and prayer, maybe an examination of conscience and a decade of the Rosary.
Don’t get discouraged that Sunday Mass can be difficult with little ones, just do your best to remain recollected and give it to the Lord. And finally, make monthly confession a priority. We all need a fresh start, and sooner is usually better than later!
Mary Boctor is a Catholic wife and mother to her four children. She is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, and works as a personal stylist, blogger, and freelance writer.
To hear more from Mary, check out her blog.