Balancing spiritual and worldly things in family life


#1

Hello, I am a twenty-something who is currently in RCIA. Though I am quite new to the Church and realize that there are certain restraints when it comes to discerning vocations, I have an ongoing questioning and, more recently, discernment for marriage and religious life. While I have felt more of a "pull" towards married life in the past 2-3 years, I have only recently begun to understand the meaning of marriage as a sacrament. Meanwhile, religious life is something that I hadn't considered at all until quite recently. I feel a desire to "go deep" with my faith and find quiet activities such as retreats, less hectic/crowded Mass and adoration especially fruitful. Could this be a sign of a religious vocation? I would say right now I feel much more pulled towards marriage and motherhood, but I am not closing any doors, especially since I am currently single.

My issue is balancing the need for a deeper level of faith with a potential vocation for marriage. An experience that recently gave me hope: I am visiting family in a suburban area and attended an early Christmas Mass yesterday evening-- one that was particularly full of families with young children. While many children could barely sit still (understandably, as I remember those Santa Claus days!) and parents around me struggled to keep them calm, focusing on the kids, checking out their neighbors' outfits or chatting with acquaintances throughout the Mass, I thought to myself, "Is this how family life would be? Are families completely distracted from the sacrament?" But then I saw a mother and her young daughter, maybe about five or six years old, sitting right in front of me...throughout the Mass, the mother talked softly to her daughter, showing her when to kneel, doing the sign of the Cross for her during the Gospel, and reinforcing the priest's special message for the children about the real meaning of Christmas. It was a beautiful reminder of how faith can be shared between parents and their children.

As I am growing in faith, I am finding that I place less and less importance on material things and the sort of "keep-up-with-the-Jones'" suburban lifestyle. I am especially dealing with this issue in light of how I was raised (much more emphasis on academic/financial success than spiritual development). My question is, how many of you who are called to marriage/family life find that "worldly" things matter much less to you? Do you find that to raise a family you have to "play along" with some of those values? And, for those of you who do, how do you reconcile your tendancies towards a deeper spirituality?


#2

Hi, hi hi hi!! Welcome to the Church!! I’m not a mom but I’m in your age bracket and I’ve grown up around many Catholic families. If I thought someone had a magic formula for this, I’d probably shoot them and steal it away!! (J/k J/k) I’ve known several Catholic families that seemed perfect on the surface, but pretty soon the marriage fell apart or you find out that they actually have some pretty dysfunctional characteristics. A handful though are amazing (several Catholic and one excellent Protestant family who is practically Catholic). All of the children have turned out well so far and the parents are together plus there’s some pretty serious virtue there. (Obviously this is a small sample size, could be my demographic, could be correlation only, etc, etc,) Some things I’ve noticed:
Both parents are practicing Catholics - except the previously mentioned Prots.
The children are taught their faith by the parents not just the schools, and they know it inside and out. So they know not just what they believe, but why.
The average number of kids is approx. 5.5. Being more than twice the national average (I think), that means the parents are pretty generous folks.
They really don’t seem to care about keeping up with the Joneses (I mean how can you when you have five and a half kids running around?). They’ve driven old cars, lived in little houses, and about half of them have farmed, if only for the fun of it.
Parents are super warm but firm with rules, not punishing and not permissive.
The siblings almost all seem to get along, and in some cases are each other’s best friends. (This is super puzzling to me, as I don’t know what the secret is - it’s really just an observation).
Families include prayer, the sacraments, and community service frequently in their daily lives, (but no one family that I know of does for instance, the daily rosary, daily chaplet of mercy, daily spiritual reading, daily mass, bi-weekly confession, weekly community service, weekly adoration, weekly stations, Friday fasting, First Fridays, monthly spiritual direction, etc, etc, etc,) because they ARE human and in striving for excellence they probably are well aware of their limitations. Different families have a different schtick (sp?). You have to decide for yourself what you are capable of and what devotions God is calling you to.
There are two more things which 1) I am not a fan of and 2) they absolutely all have in common. I prefer to pm them to you. Check your inbox, girl!!


#3

Bringing a child (NOTE: NOT AN INFANT) to Mass is one of the most beautiful things that you can do. Children are sponges for information and so deeply desire God and are more than in-tune with that desire. Prayer isn't super-hypervigilant focus on Mass. Taking care of a child, educating them about Mass, is of far more value in God's eyes and will ALWAYS keep you humble.

And I promise that you'll find your own things to be "worldy" about. Maybe its the kitchen tools that grind babyfood, maybe its the super warm bed covers, this or that or the other thing. Someone with very little can be very materialistic and someone with much can be materialistic, an eager and happy giver and such. And anyway, when you first start out there's no money to keep up with the Jones!


#4

[quote="iwillrisenow, post:1, topic:180912"]
My issue is balancing the need for a deeper level of faith with a potential vocation for marriage. . . . And, for those of you who do, how do you reconcile your tendancies towards a deeper spirituality?

[/quote]

Families are called to consecrate themselves to Christ just as much as one in the religious life - and in fact raising your family will become a 24/7 opportunity/challenge to live/practice/deepen your faith! Accepting lovingly and with a charitable heart the daily difficulties and chores of raising children and family life will become your cross to bear to bring you closer to Christ - (many seem to forget this and say 'I am not happy in my marriage' and hence, miss the whole point). True happiness comes from living the Will of The Father - no matter how difficult or monotonous, not self-gratification or selfishness. Opportunities for deeper spirituality will abound as you take 'living Gods Will' beyond your own family and evangelize to other families and individuals through service, faith-sharing & building, support of the religious, and seeking to truly live the model of the Holy Family.

[quote="iwillrisenow, post:1, topic:180912"]
. . . Are families completely distracted from the sacrament? . . .

[/quote]

Ponder the alternative: 'Quiet' masses with no-children at all, everyone 40+, and pews half empty - I have seen this when visiting churches in 'blue' states and it is appalling! I'll take an infant screaming at the top of his lungs,* even during the consecration,* with a big :D on my face (and thankfullness to God for the miracle of life) any-day . . .
:thumbsup:

.
-YBIC,
Gary R.


#5

i know exactly what you mean.... no, there is no need to "play along" with the world's values, in fact we should do just the opposite.

it is easy to go along with the world, but broad is the road.... my husband and i are thankfully equally yoked, and we spend time in prayer daily. we say grace at McDonalds, and make do without a lot of things. it's a better way to live, and in Christ you're more thankful for what you have, and more thankful to be a part of His Kingdom.

the world has a lot, but it can't offer eternal life, peace, or grace to any marriage or family. i say, seek out a Godly, humble, and kind man, in God's time and on His terms. let God arrange your marriage for you. :thumbsup: if you build anything on the Rock, it will surely stand.


#6

[quote="iwillrisenow, post:1, topic:180912"]
Hello, I am a twenty-something who is currently in RCIA. Though I am quite new to the Church and realize that there are certain restraints when it comes to discerning vocations, I have an ongoing questioning and, more recently, discernment for marriage and religious life. While I have felt more of a "pull" towards married life in the past 2-3 years, I have only recently begun to understand the meaning of marriage as a sacrament. Meanwhile, religious life is something that I hadn't considered at all until quite recently. I feel a desire to "go deep" with my faith and find quiet activities such as retreats, less hectic/crowded Mass and adoration especially fruitful. Could this be a sign of a religious vocation? I would say right now I feel much more pulled towards marriage and motherhood, but I am not closing any doors, especially since I am currently single.

My issue is balancing the need for a deeper level of faith with a potential vocation for marriage. An experience that recently gave me hope: I am visiting family in a suburban area and attended an early Christmas Mass yesterday evening-- one that was particularly full of families with young children. While many children could barely sit still (understandably, as I remember those Santa Claus days!) and parents around me struggled to keep them calm, focusing on the kids, checking out their neighbors' outfits or chatting with acquaintances throughout the Mass, I thought to myself, "Is this how family life would be? Are families completely distracted from the sacrament?" But then I saw a mother and her young daughter, maybe about five or six years old, sitting right in front of me...throughout the Mass, the mother talked softly to her daughter, showing her when to kneel, doing the sign of the Cross for her during the Gospel, and reinforcing the priest's special message for the children about the real meaning of Christmas. It was a beautiful reminder of how faith can be shared between parents and their children.

As I am growing in faith, I am finding that I place less and less importance on material things and the sort of "keep-up-with-the-Jones'" suburban lifestyle. I am especially dealing with this issue in light of how I was raised (much more emphasis on academic/financial success than spiritual development). My question is, how many of you who are called to marriage/family life find that "worldly" things matter much less to you? Do you find that to raise a family you have to "play along" with some of those values? And, for those of you who do, how do you reconcile your tendancies towards a deeper spirituality?

[/quote]

I think you're definitely headed in the right direction! I have friends who place far more emphasis on making more money and things like that, and I find it harder and harder to related to them, at least as far as those things are concerned. I think what's happening here is that you're realigning your goals with your new-found faith, and rightly so. There're many things in life that are more important than money and wealth. I think your faith will make you far happier than you otherwise would. Based on what I've seen, my friends aren't that happy, even if they make a lot of money. In my opinion, having a career has a couple of purposes. One is to provide for your family; the other is to do something useful for the world and engage in the vocation that God has intended for you. I think you will derive far more satisfaction from your job if it's aimed towards those two goals.


#7

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