Semi-vocation


#1

Hi friends,
My family and I feel called very strongly to a life resembling a monastic life. It's kind of hard to describe exactly, but in what ways do y'all with families live out your family vocation? For example, what are your thoughts on the Evangelical counsels; in what ways do they apply to us with families? Obviously chastity is not really applicable, except in relation to chaste conjugal love within the parameters of Church guidance. What should a life of obedience, poverty, and chastity look like in a family setting?

We are working toward pursuing a rural homestead type lifestyle with some others who feel called to a similar lifestyle; this is our website: stjosephscommunity.blogspot.com/. I'd love to hear your thoughts about how the Christian calling can be most fully expressed in family life. Obviously, we are not all called to the priesthood or religious life, but we are all called to be saints. How do y'all with families pursue that calling?

All to Jesus, through Mary
Joel


#2

[quote="joelT, post:1, topic:255621"]
Hi friends,
My family and I feel called very strongly to a life resembling a monastic life. It's kind of hard to describe exactly, but in what ways do y'all with families live out your family vocation? For example, what are your thoughts on the Evangelical counsels; in what ways do they apply to us with families? Obviously chastity is not really applicable, except in relation to chaste conjugal love within the parameters of Church guidance. What should a life of obedience, poverty, and chastity look like in a family setting?

We are working toward pursuing a rural homestead type lifestyle with some others who feel called to a similar lifestyle; this is our website: stjosephscommunity.blogspot.com/. I'd love to hear your thoughts about how the Christian calling can be most fully expressed in family life. Obviously, we are not all called to the priesthood or religious life, but we are all called to be saints. How do y'all with families pursue that calling?

All to Jesus, through Mary
Joel

[/quote]

Moinastic life is not family life - period.

What you are seeking is simply and beautifully what every Christian should be living/ A better example for you would be Acts of the Apostles.

Vocation is not about religious life. It is about living in Christ in every aspect of life. As the early Christians did. Thus all was shared with all.
Any thing not absolutely needed was given to the poor; and in the US you have eg Second Harvest and local Food Banks in these times of need so there are ample ways to fulfil that.


#3

Indeed monastic life is not family life.

However, we are all called to poverty, chastity and obedience - in the usual course, generally those in consecrated life (but not only) are called to the radical expression of these evangelical counsels. Some single people lay people do embrace a radical expression of these evangelical counsels either under private vows or not. To what extent a person may live out these counsels is very much up to their circumstances and their particular call from God, their vocation in life. This is where spiritual direction is invaluable.
The call to perfection which is a general call to all the baptized will always take the road of poverty, chastity and obedience expressed to some degree or other in accord with their state in life and call from God.

juliemccarty.com/Poverty_Chastity_Obedience_in_Marriage.pdf

dailygospel.org/main.php?language=AM&module=commentary&localdate=20110808
Saint Francis de Sales (1567-1622), Bishop of Geneva and Doctor of the Church
Introduction to the devout life, I, ch. 3 (Breviary)

"Every tree is known by its own fruit"

At the creation God commanded the plants to bear fruit :each «according to its kind" (Gn 1,11) and he likewise commands Christians, the living branches of the vine, to bear fruit by practising devotion according to their state in life. The practice of devotion must differ for the gentleman 'the artisan, the servant and the prince, for widow, young girl or wife. Further, it must be adapted to their muscular strength, circumstances and duties... Is the solitary life of a Carthusian suited to a bishop? Should those who are married practise the poverty of a Capuchin?
[quote] If workmen spent as much time in church as religious, if religious were exposed to the same pastoral calls as a bishop, such devotion would be ridiculous and cause intolerable disorder. Yet this foolish mistake is often made

...

True devotion never causes harm, but rather perfects everything we do... "The bee sucks honey from the flowers without injuring them," wrote Aristotle, leaving them as whole and fresh as when it found them.

Devotion goes further, not only is it unharmful to any state of life, it adorns and beautifies it... It makes the care of family peaceful, the love of husband and wife more sincere, the service of one's king more faithful, and every task more pleasant and a joy.

It is not only erroneous, but a heresy, to hold that life in the army, the workshop, the court, or the home is incompatible with devotion... Wherever we find ourselves we not only may, but should seek perfection.

[/quote]


#4

Read full text online:

"Introduction to The Devout Life" - by St. Francis de Sales (regarded as a classic spiritual work of and for lay spirituality)

Index of Chapters: ccel.org/ccel/desales/devout_life.toc.html


#5

TiggerS; why read anyone but Jesus? He says it all and very clearly and simply for us all.

And He is our Lord and our Way.

You make it all too heavy and too complicated; these are simple practical issues that all face of how to live our physical lives closer to Jesus.

I for one have no intention of ploughing through some work by a person living wayback and not facing the issues we do today.

Shaping a life round Jesus is fascinating and ultimately the deepest spiritual life you can live. Living our Baptismal Vows in physical form is a life’s work also.

In the time it would take to read a long text, imagine how many people you could feed!


#6

[quote="Hopemercy, post:5, topic:255621"]
TiggerS; why read anyone but Jesus? He says it all and very clearly and simply for us all.

And He is our Lord and our Way.

You make it all too heavy and too complicated; these are simple practical issues that all face of how to live our physical lives closer to Jesus.

I for one have no intention of ploughing through some work by a person living wayback and not facing the issues we do today.

Shaping a life round Jesus is fascinating and ultimately the deepest spiritual life you can live. Living our Baptismal Vows in physical form is a life's work also.

In the time it would take to read a long text, imagine how many people you could feed!

[/quote]

:thumbsup:
God bless and thank you for sharing your thoughts - what may be helpful for one may not be helpful for another, or indeed for none but oneself.


#7

[quote="TiggerS, post:6, topic:255621"]
:thumbsup:
God bless and thank you for sharing your thoughts - what may be helpful for one may not be helpful for another, or indeed for none but oneself.

[/quote]

Thank you.. I "think"! There are undertones in your words, but then the intenet is a poor and fragile way of communication... Far from this being "helpful" for just "oneself..." We do not live for oursleves, but in Jesus for others.

The OP has all the motivation and inspiration; it seems to me that it is the practicality he seeks?

What we have done for decades is to simplify our way of life. To remove the clutter. And to set aside all we can spare financially so that others can eat. I am very old now and seek to face my Jesus openly and not feel that any child that could have lived and thrived has been lost through my carelessness. And in that caring for others comes a deep spiritual fulfilment. Some speak of "sacrifice", but it is not that in any way. Simply a choosing to give.

To put Jesus and His teachings first. In daily practical ways that fulfil our spirituality and faith. To ensure that He is the centre and focus of all that we do are are.

Lest our faith becomes divorced from real life and thus sterile.

This at some stage will set us apart from many around us and that is fine.

Easier in the wilds of rural Ireland than in the modern US! Much easier.


#8

Hopemercy, I think you are right on...if we see each other as Christ does, as beings created in His image, with souls that will never, never stop existing, how can we not give as much of ourselves as we can for the benefit of their eternal soul? God help me to do this more and to have self-giving love like that! When it comes to our family life, there are aspects of monastic living that are just as suited for family life as consecrated life. Mainly I'm thinking of 1. hospitality to all in need 2. a daily schedule built around corporate prayer and worship 3. simplicity of lifestyle that is productive rather than consumptive 4. a cheerful devotion to sanctifying life through the daily labor at hand, whatever it may be. "Ora et labora", right? These things make for blessed, righteous families just as much as they make for blessed, righteous religious. My question is, in what ways do you with families do this? How do you involve your children in daily work and prayer? How do you minister to those in need that you come in contact with? Do you partner with other Catholic families for charity work, prayer, or whatever? How do you simplify your lives so that you may be content with less and have more to share?
TiggerS, I haven't read that one yet, but I will add it to my list. I have read Francis de Sales "Catholic Controversy", which was fairly significant to my conversion from Reformed Calvinism to Catholicism. He is an excellent, easily readable author; i will be sure to check that out when I get some down time.

Thanks for your input
Joel


#9

[quote="joelT, post:1, topic:255621"]
Hi friends,
My family and I feel called very strongly to a life resembling a monastic life. It's kind of hard to describe exactly, but in what ways do y'all with families live out your family vocation? For example, what are your thoughts on the Evangelical counsels; in what ways do they apply to us with families? Joel

[/quote]

you feel, or your family feels? are you and your wife and children unified in this feeling?

there is no reason lay people in the world cannot live out the evangelical counsels in a manner consistent with their way of life, for one thing that is the reason many religious orders have lay associates. You don't need to actually live in a monastic setting to do this. There are plenty of Christians, Catholic and non-, who do this in a committed way, and have blogs about it, too.

You can also gather with other families and lay persons, in covenant communities, usually associated in some way with a religious order and under spiritual direction, and in obedience to a bishop, either actually sharing living arrangements, or otherwise associated in work, family life and spiritual life.

Don't exactly know what your question is for this forum.

there is no such thing as a "semi-vocation". Your commitment to the married vocation is complete and unbroken. Same with a religious vocation. If your vocation is married, then it is by definition, NOT monastic life, except in those rare cases, after child rearing is no longer a factor, and by mutual agreement of the spouses under spiritual direction.


#10

puzzleannie, my family feels called to this. I should say my wife and I; our children are all still very young. We basically want to pursue our Christian calling within our married vocation (you are right of course; semi-vocation was probably not the best title) to the fullest. I posted it in this forum because there is plenty of experience, thought, and discussion about the Evangelical counsels here, and I wanted to see what folks thought about married people living out those counsels within their married vocation. While the vocation to religious life is, of course, fundamentally different, the monastic lifestyle is not at odds with family life. Many ancient monasteries included families as well as religious brothers and sisters. A life of prayer, work, and service is a universal calling. So my questions would be mostly for lay associates, I suppose, as well as religious who might have thoughts on the topic. You don't have to live in a monastic setting to do this, I agree, but people are drawn to monastic settings for a reason: they are conducive to holy living. I think this desire is especially relevant to families nowadays who are trying to raise our children in an immoral and hostile culture. We want to create a "monastic" environment within our homes, so our children can grow and learn and pray and work as we ought. I am mainly just trying to find out what other families' thoughts and experiences are in this arena.


#11

[quote="Hopemercy, post:7, topic:255621"]
Thank you.. I "think"! There are undertones in your words, but then the intenet is a poor and fragile way of communication... Far from this being "helpful" for just "oneself..." We do not live for oursleves, but in Jesus for others.

The OP has all the motivation and inspiration; it seems to me that it is the practicality he seeks?

What we have done for decades is to simplify our way of life. To remove the clutter. And to set aside all we can spare financially so that others can eat. I am very old now and seek to face my Jesus openly and not feel that any child that could have lived and thrived has been lost through my carelessness. And in that caring for others comes a deep spiritual fulfilment. Some speak of "sacrifice", but it is not that in any way. Simply a choosing to give.

To put Jesus and His teachings first. In daily practical ways that fulfil our spirituality and faith. To ensure that He is the centre and focus of all that we do are are.

Lest our faith becomes divorced from real life and thus sterile.

This at some stage will set us apart from many around us and that is fine.

Easier in the wilds of rural Ireland than in the modern US! Much easier.

[/quote]

No undertones, Hopemercy, I assure you. Some find it helpful to read articles and books, some dont. I find it helpful to read the concepts of others (books and articles) or spiritual reading. Scripture reading and reflection prayerfully is Lectio Divina for me on Sundays. I do meditate on the daily Mass readings each day however. Whenever posting at any time at all, it may be helpful to others, or it may not. It may simply be helpful for oneself. One cannot know really at the time of posting. I rarely read certainly books or other long texts in one sitting - usually over perhaps quite a few. Portion of my income is at this point being given to the African famine crisis but then I only have to feed and clothe myslef and pay my own bills. No other responsibilities and vastly different from the married with families. I have been invited to align myself with a religious order as a lay person under private vows and this will mean a formal rule of life encompassing the lifestyle I am already living - but at this point I am still very much in the discernment journey.

Personally I have lived a specific radical Gospel lifestyle under private vows to the evangelical counsels and with spiritual direction and have done so for over 30 years now even while in the workforce. I am now 65 years old. This, of course means, that the duties involved in my own way of life would be largely different from those who are married with families. Since I am not in the workforce, I probably have also far more free time although evening arrives and I am always amazed at how quickly the day has passed. Since I live alone, I have no obligations or concerns with others - under my roof anyway.0 Yesterday for example I made lunch and spent some time with a woman who has lost her voice through a laryngectomy. It was her birthday. She lives alone, is elderly, and finds it very difficult and experiences depression. Each day for me can have very different calls. And I am able to structure my day at times, depends on the day and what is happening. Although we are all laity and this means that especially the documents out of Rome on the laity I also find helpful, others may not. I was talking to a contemplative nun a few weeks ago who said she rarely will read documents out of Rome. I do try to stay in touch with the Pontifical Council for the Laity (see below).

I do realize that I may be in a different situation than perhaps many in lay life, but no way of knowing really when posting and into a public forum. Some may be interested, others not - or even none at all interested. No obligation to read posts or links.

We all travel as we are called by God hopefully and this can be vastly different from one person to another. And viva la difference! Very often I personally might read posts and even links, but dont post into the thread myself. Perhaps others do the same, and no way of knowing.

Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity - Pope Paul VI vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_decree_19651118_apostolicam-actuositatem_en.html

Pontifical Council for the Liaty
vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/laity/


#12

I think how one lives out the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience is up to one’s personal circumstances. With poverty and married life just as an example, the first duty is to care for one’s family and then look at what income one may have as surplus. Possibly consider how one supports the priesthood and one’s parish, or major crises in the world perhaps. Certainly simplification of life comes under poverty and in today’s world this can be a difficult task for lay people because it definitely will make one counter cultural. Some find this difficult, some not at all difficult. It depends on persons and circumstances and as St. Francis de Sales wrote in Introduction to The Devout Life (online text link in my previous post) each person needs to look at their own circumstances and work things out prayerfully based on that. For lay people and certainly for the married, while there can be features of life similar to monastic living, in most cases these features will not be precisely the same as in monastic life. Or, again, perhaps for one reason or another it works out that the features of monastic life can be incorporated into one’s state in life - as with lay members of Third Orders. But certainly one would be deluded to strive to live a monastic type life at the cost of the duties of one’s state. If God wanted us monastics, then He would call us to monastic life is my premise.

With prayer for myself personally, I find it works to not make actual prayer times by the clock. Rather each morning I look at what is involved in my day and then structure my prayer times around that. We had one saint who said similar to - if the doorbell calls you from prayer,then let answering the doorbell be your prayer. Our duties are also prayer or as St. Benedict said “Prayer and Work” which is the Benedictine motto I think. The duties of the state in life to which God has called one are also an act of worship since one is being obedient to God’s Will in performing duties and therefore in performing them we are prayerful and worshipping God.

With ascetic living that probably comes under simplification of life. With penance, it is up to each individual looking at their state of health, circumstances etc. to work this out (again St. Francis de Sales speaks of this in Introduction to The Devout Life).

Obedience for a lay person may mean being obedient to a spiritual director, or it may mean to be obedient to God’s Will and The Church and we are all called to this obedience. It may mean being obedient to the Rule of Life if one is in a Third Order etc.


#13
  1. hospitality to all in need
  2. a daily schedule built around corporate prayer and worship
  3. simplicity of lifestyle that is productive rather than consumptive
  4. a cheerful devotion to sanctifying life through the daily labor at hand, whatever it may be. "Ora et labora", right? These things make for blessed, righteous families just as much as they make for blessed, righteous religious.

My question is, in what ways do you with families do this?
How do you involve your children in daily work and prayer?
How do you minister to those in need that you come in contact with?
Do you partner with other Catholic families for charity work, prayer, or whatever?
How do you simplify your lives so that you may be content with less and have more to share?

Important points in the above I thought, especially hospitality and the cheerful disposition at all times where possible. Sometimes, try though we may, things get on top of us and we need to drag our poor human nature through it as best we can. We are triers most of us in the main, but we remain imperfect creatures trying to do the best we can, and sometimes this can be difficult. But a basically cheerful disposition and certainly hospitality are aspects of Charity I think. Both make life easier for those around us - and for ourselves actually. I have an open door policy, but again I live alone and in a different situation to the married and especially with children.

I do find The Our Father a whole way of life - also The Gospels - and many of the epistles inform on the features of a Gospel orientated way of life. Hence the daily Mass readings are important to me. Also Lectio Divina - for the interested, how to go about it is here: ocarm.org/en/content/lectio/what-lectio-divina
Lectio Divina is certainly a monastic practise nowadays especially - and for many active orders too. It is highly recommended by Pope Benedict for laity as well. He also highly recommends having a spiritual director if possible.


#14

You might like to read the book "Better Off" by Eric Brende about a married couple who decided to try something roughly similar to your idea in a community. The book is not a guide, just their personal experience, but might help you foresee situations you will encounter or issues you need to consider.


#15

There is another book "A Mother's Rule of Life" and although written for mothers, I certainly found helpful things in it and I daresay any person wanting some sort of rule or organization of life could find helpful things in it. I didn't apply it word for word of course, but nonetheless there were helpful ideas in it. The book does not outlay an actual rule of life, but is about how to work out one around duties, if one wants one.

The author homeschools 5 children.

A review of the book is here: theotokos.org.uk/pages/breviews/francisp/hpierlot.html

The author also has a blog for asking questions, which she answers mothersruleoflife.com/

Not everyone's cup og tea, but some may be interested.


#16

Hmmm, A lot to think about there, I do know that what you are seeking has nothing to do with monastic life per se but everything to do with what is more imortant and what has been largely lose in today’s society ie a LIFESTYLE that reflects the words of Jesus and His teachings.

Hospitality is one such thing. One way of sharing. I know of one person who makes a large batch of sandwiches each day and gives them to the homeless people she sees daily. Another takes flasks of coffee and sits with the street folk.
Can you imagine how much that means to the loneliness out there?
To have someone stop and share with you?

And the old Ora and labore also is what is taught in Acts; not the preserve of the monastic who live it differently from what non-monastics do.

You have family responsibilites; your children matter and your work is raising them.

That is what Jesus would do.


#17

I concur with PuzzleAnnie. I also think that you might take some example from the lives
of Blesseds Louis and Zelie Martin. They led holy family lives in the world but were not of
it. Zelie, too, was an ardent admirer of St. Francis DeSales. They had 9 children of whom only 5 survived to become adults. Their most famous daughter was St. Therese. But the other four followed closely their path & that of Therese.


#18

The issue of Consecration and other thoughts in this thread are interesting.

Maybe many forget that we are each and all Consecrated at our Baptism? And that we renew those Solemn Vows each year at Easter?

Living those Vows as holy men and woman is a life long work. And it is lifestyle isn’t it?

So it concerns sometimes when some seem to need more vows or commitment withing family/lay life…

In Episc circles, there is a vogue for new “religious orders”’ ; what some call “weeekend nuns” or “wannabbes”…They even wear a habit at weekends and some keep a habit at home to wear at weekends. Many are married with kids.

Maybe one of the most concerning part of Vatican 2 where relligious life is involved was the dumbing down iof the separateness of religious.

And always the idea that “having a vocation” is somehow only for religious and elite?

Monastic life is a full- time and life long thing that excludes family life.

Family life is holy. Equal but different.

Mayeb OP, start simply rather than formalise? I re read your post and you seek to downsize? There is a strong tradtition there of that now; frugal living … and plenty of advice there.

At this stage the less formality the better’ if this is of God it will grow naturally. Little by little and leaf by leaf.

If you formalise too much it will be too much.

Maybe start some service of others? A few hours at a food bankmaybe? Simple hands on caring and service. So many childrren over there going to school hungry/


#19

I think that is a good idea, if I understand correctly it's just wanting to live with your family in a way that is very consistent with Christian values :) honestly probably every Christian family could be like that. If you want to integrate a schedule for work, prayer, etc, that could work, but I think it's best to start by focusing on the values you want to promote in your family.. just my opinion... get a foundation for it that is in the faith itself. For example, helping the needy. Educating the children about God. Praying. Being devoted to the Sacraments. Having times of fasting. Being modest. Etc.

I agree with others this is different from religious life in that religious life is a totally different vocation. But I think you mean to say, incorporating aspects of a monastery into your family. ? am I right? I think it depends on what aspects you mean. One purpose of monastic life is to kind of leave behind everything for Christ. Of course marriage doesn't involve that. But certainly you can incorporate simplicity, regular prayer, etc. Maybe it's also about having only what you need as a family.

I like the points about having traditional values/being self sufficient/not contributing to abortion. Might be a good witness too :)

God bless :)


#20

Thank you for this. I realise that what has irked me is that it seems that folk think that "only"in religious/monastic life can there be validity and holiness.

That is not so, emphatically not so/

Monastic and religious life is simply living out Baptismal Vows in a different setting and away from family life.

It is not about turning your back on the world but in moving to a world-life of a differnt intensity and one that cannot be lived with family.

The problem is that unless you see this and know it fully, there is a tendency to become cult-like. Apart in the wrong way.

There has to be a balance.

Thinking a lot about Bruderhof. An Anapabtist community. Families live there etc. They have their own schools etc, distinctive modest dress and a strong work ethic, and self supporting of course.

Some years ago, they became very prosperous and started reaching out on the internet in a very big way. And they lost their basis by doing that because it meant too much involvment in the world. Relativism and liberal ideas etc. Too much world.

They had a huge following.

Suddenly they vanished off the web. No warning.

They had seen the dangers, the divisiveness, the altered values and rejected them to return to their charism and tradition.

Interesting topic; thank you


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