Monday, October 17, 2005

The vocation crisis and contraception

I drove back from my sister's wedding on Sunday with my older brother who is in the seminary. The seminary is just two hours away from my "home" in New York City. Both of us have been very sick for the past week, and sadly this fact made any meaningful conversation quite impossible. Each time he said something that under normal circumstances would lead to a 30-minute discussion, I would remind him of my inability to formulate a coherent argument… This cycle repeated itself at least 20 times during our 7-hour ride!

At one point, Richard said something I know I would want to ponder later, so I got out my notebook and scribbled it down. "When I get to heaven, I want to have a long conversation with God about the vocation crisis," he said.

Richard has been spending the past few months, and will spend the next 6 years, studying and praying to prepare to become a Catholic priest. He started talking about the excitement and joy of being in the seminary. Here, he has the opportunity to live a life structured around prayer and study, as well as to maintain a balanced social life especially in fostering brotherhood among the fellow seminarians. "If only young men knew how great it was, they would be flocking to the seminary!" he exclaimed.

Yes, if men realized how great seminary is, they WOULD be flocking to it! The problem is that vocations are not fostered in our boys and young men by their families, parishes, communities or culture. My speculation, of course, is that the vocation crisis is a direct result of contraception. Please allow me to explain.

With contraception comes selfishness and lack of communion with the Church. With contraception comes a lack of large families, and therefore parents are less willing to encourage their boys to become priests or their girls to become sisters. Though parents want "their two," these same parents have hopes and expectations of a flock of grandkids later in life.

That's when the plan backfires, and grief is multiplied. These children have been raised to divorce marriage from children because of that same "contraceptive mentality." They have even fewer children than their parents, sometimes purposefully entering marriage without the intention to have children. They mutilate their bodies by sterilization, perhaps unknowingly mutilating their relationship with each other and God.

In the end, church pews are empty, and the area priest drives hundreds of miles on a weekend to celebrate Mass at three different parishes.

When families have more children, parents are more apt to foster vocations. Large families have always brought more vocations.

I would love to develop this thought even more, however my health is not quite up-to-par, and I therefore leave you with these brief reflections.

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