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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

"Factor or not?"

Jeff Miller posted the following over at his blog "The Curt Jester"

"Factor or not?"

We all know the story of when Moses returned to his people in Egypt to lead them to the promised land. The Pharaoh being annoyed at Moses’ request decides that the Jewish people have it too easy and so decides that they must gather their own straw in addition to cranking out the same number of bricks as per the normal quota . We all see the unfairness of this of requesting the same amount with smaller resources.

But do we see this unfairness when it comes to vocations to the priestly and religious life? We have smaller families and have no more children than is average among the secular culture and yet we wonder why the number of priest and religious are reduced. We demand that we have the same percentage of vocations to the priestly and religious life as when Catholics showed much more generosity when it came to having children.

Now I realize this criticism is an oversimplification and that there are many factors involved when it comes to men and women answering their vocations, but surely this is a factor. Just looking at history we see so many that answered the call to their vocations were often not the first or second born. Now I am not just talking about the rare cases like St. Catherine of Sienna who was the 23rd out of 25 children, but as a generality. Surely the contraceptive culture and the culture of death has had a toll on vocations? Though of course we can’t limit God in what he will do in answer to our own selfishness when it comes to vocations.

There is also just the psychological aspect where parents of smaller families are going to be much less likely to encourage a priestly or religious vocation since they might be more focused on grandchildren or their children having a “career.” This does not mean that to be a good Catholic you must have a dozen children or so since their is valid discernment in spacing children using legitimate means based on serious reasons to do so.

So while much of the so-called vocation crisis is people with vocations to other than the married or single life not answering the call, is this not a factor? God does not give us statistics (a perfect being would have nothing to do with statistics) on this or anything else so we can never know for sure what the effect is since God is very generous even when we are not.

1 comment:

August said...

There's another statistical issue- more single people and/or people who stay single longer. The underlying issue here is a willingness to commit.

In earlier times, younger people were expected to make such decisions far earlier. The extensive period of infantilization, otherwise known as adolescence, hadn't been invented yet. Additionally, the net effect of everyone in your peer group making commitments meant that you would too. More people got married, and more people became priests too.