The crisis of vocations – Vocation to the crisis
For the past few decades, statistics has shown a decrease in number of vocations to the religious life, particularly in more developed continents. In Europe, for example, many convents that did not even have enough room to accept more vocations now only have few people. The Church has been deeply concerned about this situation and trying to promote vocations in different ways.
However, in my observation, in the family of the Church and that of humanity, there is another kind of crisis that is much more serious and urgent than the crisis to the religious life. That is the crisis of vocation to the family life.
How can I say so while the number of religious vocations is much smaller than that of married vocations?
The answer is not complicated: It is true the number of religious vocations is much smaller! But among the big number of those who live the family life, how many percent of them are truly happy? Today, broken families, including Christian ones, are numerous. There are less and less couples that share their first marriage until death does them part. A happy-marriage-till-the-end seems to be a quite fragile reality.
The crisis of the family life is serious and urgent because it is a main reason that leads to many other problems in the society. We just need to look at the story of criminals in different newspapers to be able to see the fact that the origin of the majority of problems is in dysfunctional families. This may ring a bell to those who are experienced in ministry. The crisis of the family life also leads to the decrease of vocations to the religious life. In brief, the majority of problems in the society and the Church today derives from the crisis of the family life.
Which is the deep root of this broken state of families?
Sicknesses? No, because they often enable people to care for others and grow in relationships.
Poverty? No, because it often makes family members stay connected to share their mutual responsibilities.
Wealth? No, because it is a good condition to help live the human dignity.
Other political, social, economical and educational reasons do not seem to be the real root of the crisis.
The spreading broken state of the family life can be said to be a serious social disease. A disease can only be cured when its root is rightly treated. If not, efforts may become just wasted without effectiveness. Again, the question is: What is the real root of this problematic state?
In my humble opinion, it is the lack of the consciousness of God in the relationship among family members. In order to rescue families in crisis, this root must be properly treated. But how?
Many pastors in the Church have dedicated their time and energy to looking for ways to heal and restore difficult families by their warning, teaching, counseling, or even creating jobs, etc. Yet their sincere efforts seem not to have touched the root of the situation. Even in the Church itself, the state of the family continues to worsen. The number of broken families keeps increasing. So, what is a good solution?
Let’s look at God to learn. The author of the letter to the Hebrews writes: “In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son.” (Hebrew 1:1-2)
Obviously God used many different ways to communicate his message of love to the human in their history. However, finally, God chose to speak “to us by his Son”, which means God chose the way of the Incarnation as the best way to come to us so we can believe his message. God knew that human beings made of bone and flesh would understand and welcome it more easily when they were in contact with someone like them, close to them, having a similar situation. Therefore, God became a human like them, spoke their language, ate their food, lived their condition, suffered with them, and died with them.
It seems that an effective solution for the crisis of the family life today also needs to follow the model of the Incarnation. If the crisis is of the family, then the key solution also needs to be from the family. Concretely, families on the edge of brokenness due to their lack of consciousness of God are in great need of seeing harmonious families thanks to their glorifying God. Families having relational difficulties due to their lack of holiness need to meet families that are happy thanks to their holiness. Families that are losing their happiness because of their poor consciousness of God’s presence need to see families that are shining brightly in happiness because of their placing God in the center of their life. When a family intentionally holds high their happiness as a mission to make God known and to set good examples for other families, it will naturally have more strength than those who are not mindful of this fact. In brief, words shake but examples attract. It is families that are happy because they consciously live with God and intentionally live for God will save families in crisis. They are key and generous missionaries of today.
The analysis above is only the theoretical part of the process. The more important part is the answers to these questions: Who will love God and families in crisis enough to establish happy families that always place God in the center of everything? Which families will show other families the following significant truth: When a family consciously lives with God, its happiness is a sure thing? Who will be generous and courageous enough to undertake this very important ‘incarnational’ vocation?
Praying and hoping!