Recently, I wrote up a little piece about fostering vocations to the priesthood and religious life. In it, I shared a few tips for creating a family environment where a vocation could flourish should one exist. What can I say? I have three sons and, as most of us Catholic moms do, I sometimes dream about one of my boys becoming Il Papa. Since I have three girls as well, I figure it’s only fair to share a few of the ways we try encourage them to consider the religious life. As cool as it might be to have a pope for a son, having a Little Flower for a daughter wouldn’t be half bad. Am I right?
And now, 5 Ways to Foster Your Daughter’s Vocation to the Convent:
1) Talk about it! Yes, I am repeating myself a bit here, but this point cannot be stressed enough. The only way to ensure that your child ever sees a vocation to the religious life as a viable option for her life’s work is if she hears about it, and often. Make a point of including “nun” or “sister” in your lists of “What I Want to Be When I Grow Up,” so that they will too.
2) Visit the sisters. It’s not always easy to have the sisters over for a cup of coffee or an evening of conversation. This is why it is so important to bring your daughters to the sisters. Make an effort to get to know the local order or orders and then invite yourself over. Most sisters I know are happy to have visitors, especially when those visitors are happy, Catholic children. Seeing the sisters in their own environment will at the least expose your daughters to the communal aspect of convent life and may result in a desire to join them there one day.
3) Encourage femininity. There is nothing wrong with a little girl wanting to play princess or dressing up for a pretend ball. It speaks of their desire for beauty, and is, I am convinced, a key part of the feminine soul. Encourage this femininity. Encourage them to be ladylike, as befitting the daughter of a King, because that is what we all are. Use not only the ideal of a princess or queen for a comparative, but also, and especially, the uniquely feminine ideal of the nun, in her long habit and with her quiet manners. Help them to see the connection between the quiet grace of a beautiful woman with the quiet grace of a holy nun.
4) Teach them about the greats. St. Therese of Lesieux, St. Catherine of Sienna, Bl. Teresa of Calcutta. I could go on and on with this list. There are literally thousands of female saints who were religious in this life. Tell their lives to your daughters. Help them to become best friends with these holy women who gave their life in service to Christ. Sometimes, all we need is an example to follow before we consider the possibility of going against the societal grain. What better examples could young girls have than the saints?
5) Talk up the Amazing Husband aspect. Yeah, that’s right. I’m playing the you’ll-be-married-to-Jesus card. What better husband could a gal ask for? In all seriousness though, it’s true. Don’t place the emphasis of your vocation talks on giving up a husband and family, but rather on having the perfect Husband, and a family that can reach hundreds of people who are touched by your generous service. And who could beat Mary for a mother-in-law?
So, there you have it. Again, I don’t claim to be an expert, since my oldest girl is a feisty five-year-old who is determined some days to help me reach a state of perpetual prayers with her antics (as in, I find myself repeating, “Jesus help me!” ad nauseam.) But I do know several Catholic families who have used these to tips to help foster vocations in their own daughters.
Also, I must repeat myself once more. The point of this post is to help parents create a family environment that will encourage young girls and women to consider a vocation to the religious life as a possibility, as likely to happen as getting married or becoming a doctor, should that be what God calls them to. No one can (or should try to) force a vocation where none exists. But all of us should make an effort to let our children know that vocations to the priesthood and the religious life are not a thing of the past, antiquated, or something only for the special, saintly few. God can call anyone. Remembering these tips may help our children to be more ready to hear and answer that call.
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