I have often heard of the priesthood and religious vocations spoken of by priests and religious with great praise and recommendation. And I don't blame them. These vocations are amazing and honorable and beautiful and to be celebrated. Our Pastor did not preach on the priesthood or religious vocations on Sunday but it is fair since he ignored families on Holy Family Sunday as well, though that doesn't make it right. Unfortunately, in my experience, marriage is often left trailing behind, only preached with regard to what the married should be doing and rarely acclaimed for its beauty and honor and magnificence. James and I were saying that we think the last good homily we heard on marriage was at our wedding (much thanks Father Caulfield!) Why? Well, certainly it is easier for priests to preach praise for their own vocation as they live it and not marriage. But I think the fact that marriage is more common and there has been a lack of acceptance of religious and priestly vocations is a bigger culprit. So I wanted to say some things about the vocation of marriage.
I am a wife. I chose to live the rest of my life with one man. I chose to love him for the rest of our lives. I chose to honor him, help him, care for him as no one else does or can. In other words, I chose to lay down my life for him so that I became an Us.
I am a mother. Because my husband and I freely choose to lay down our lives for each other, God blesses our love with the blessing of children. God exaults us to share in a power only He has - the power to create a human being. A person. A person who did not exist before (except in God's own mind) and will exist for eternity is created by the three of us. And even after death in the halls of Heaven, we will always be that person's mother and father. Through the creation of this tiny person, we become a family and our family represents the Trinitarian God and His Church to the world.
I am another Christ. I must be another Christ to my husband, to my children, and to the community I live in. I must exemplify His virtue, His purity, His wisdom and His Charity. I must provide a perfect mirror image of what God's love is, especially to my children who look to me to meet every one of their needs as well as wants.
I am the Church. I must mirror my Husband and support him and encourage others to do so. I must nurture my children through proper instruction, reception of the Sacraments, and education. I must make sure all my children are properly prepared to receive the sacraments and grow to love the Church as their own.
I am a Homemaker. I must provide a clean, well-kept, and cosy home for my family to live, work, pray and play. I dust, vacuum, polish, wipe, scrub, mop, sweep, plant, organize and wash. I launder, washing bedding, clothes, towels, and other odds and ends. I must cook (I'm still working on learning that one as well as I would like) providing healthy, hearty and nourishing meals so my family will be healthy and strong but also enjoy eating and being home.
I am a teacher. I must teach my children how to walk, how to talk, how to have good hygiene and take care of themselves. I will be homeschooling teaching them math, literature, history, art, and many other subjects. I must teach them proper manners and how to behave appropriately at the table, at home and outside the home. And most importantly I must teach them theology that they understand their faith as well as live it.
I am a Guardian. I am responsible for the salvation of not only my soul, but the soul of my husband and the souls of my children. I must do everything I can to preserve their innocence, purity and virtue and foster these constantly.
I am called to do all this and do it joyfully! It is quite a bit of responsibility and certainly no easier than any other vocation. I don't get any days off or any vacation time - my husband and children need me live my vocation faithfully all day every day. Wives and Mothers, and those who will become them, need just as much support and encouragement as those who will become priests or religious and perhaps more so if marriage is seen as the more common and easier vocation. Maybe, just maybe, if priests dedicated more time to preaching the perfection that marriage and family can be and encouraging and supporting their parishioners in this endeavor, they would hardly need to preach for religious or priestly vocations because there would be a plethora of them from solid, faithful families.
Marriage has its own unique beauty and magnificence that is all to often ignored or hidden beneath laziness or self-centeredness. Am I a perfect wife, mother, Christ, Church, homemaker, teacher and guardian of souls? HA! Far from it. But God is most merciful and in just striving to be those things as perfectly as I can it is easy to see that majesty shining.