The blessings of this Parish Family continue to support and encourage all of our community, both those of us within the walls of our church as well as the world around us. It is the calling we all have a Catholics to take our faith and turn it into positive, loving action. In fact, there is a specific word that is used to describe this call: vocation. When you hear the word “vocation”, many of us immediately believe it means the calling to become a priest, or sister, brother or deacon. However, that is no longer the full definition of the word. All of us have a vocation, a calling from God. God speaks to all of us, asking us to live our life in His name and take that vocation into the world to make it a better place. It was very heartening to witness our Knights of Columbus decide to honor the Salesian Sisters of Saint John Neumann High School this coming Vocations Dinner on November 18. This is the first time we will be focusing on the varied vocational lives that impact our community. The Sisters are forming the future citizens and Catholics in our area, since Saint John Neumann is the only Catholic High School in Naples.
St. John is full of people living out their vocations, in ministry, in homes, and in their lives. I hope you all feel that calling from God and learn more about your own vocations. Our new Vocations Ministry will be actively engaging our community to educate us all on vocations and how we can all take an active role in our church and our world. In particular, there are four major categories of vocations: Priesthood, Religious Life, Married Life, and Single Life.
Let’s focus on one this week, Married Life. Many of us have chosen that vocation, but may not have realized just what a vocation it is. In his Apostolic Exhortation, The Joy of Love, Our Holy Father illustrates just how important marriage is to our faith and our future:
72. The sacrament of marriage is not a social convention, an empty ritual or merely the outward sign of a commitment. The sacrament is a gift given for the sanctification and salvation of the spouses, since “their mutual belonging is a real representation, through the sacramental sign, of the same relationship between Christ and the Church. The married couple are therefore a permanent reminder for the Church of what took place on the cross; they are for one another and for their children witnesses of the salvation in which they share through the sacrament”. Marriage is a vocation, inasmuch as it is a response to a specific call to experience conjugal love as an imperfect sign of the love between Christ and the Church. Consequently, the decision to marry and to have a family ought to be the fruit of a process of vocational discernment.
There are challenges in married life, to be sure. If anyone is attempting to be an “ideal marriage”, they are fooling themselves. Instead, we are called in our vocation to love deeply, ask for forgiveness when we do wrong and give out that same forgiveness when requested, respect and honor our family members, and be open to the life that springs from our unions. It is where we teach the future generations how those same actions should be applied in their own relationships, both personal and in society. Love, honor, and cherish.
77. …We can readily say that “anyone who wants to bring into this world a family which teaches children to be excited by every gesture aimed at overcoming evil – a family which shows that the Spirit is alive and at work – will encounter our gratitude and our appreciation. Whatever the people, religion or region to which they belong!”
In order to assist with the vocation of marriage, St. John is proud to be able to host the only Dynamic Catholic Marriage Retreat in Florida for 2017. Passion and Purpose for Marriage will take place on January 28. More information can be found at the Dynamic Catholic website, including tickets.