null / Credit: P. Cristian Gutiérrez, LC / Cathopic

CNA Newsroom, Dec 8, 2022 / 10:45 am (CNA).

The Spanish Bishops’ Conference recently lamented that there are families that identify as Christian but put obstacles in the way of the possible religious vocations of their children.

The Bishops’ Subcommittee for the Family and the Defense of Life published its annual message in anticipation of Holy Family Day under the theme “The family, cradle of the vocation to love.”

Holy Family Day will be celebrated this year in Spain on Dec. 30.

In their message, the bishops noted that “we are going through a vocational winter, not only in reference to the priesthood and consecrated life, but even to Christian marriage.” This crisis is attributed to a “loss of a culture of vocation.”

To avoid getting stuck in “sterile complaining that passively contemplates this decline in vocations,” the prelates called on families to raise their children in the culture of vocation.

“No institution can replace the work of the family in bringing up their children, especially in what refers to the formation of conscience,” they explained.

In accordance with Pope Francis’ exhortation Christus vivit, the bishops offered some guidelines for educating the family in the process of vocational discernment.

Families are encouraged to make their children aware of the different vocations in the Christian life through simple gestures such as inviting a priest to the home or visiting a community of consecrated persons, which “will make it easier for it to naturally appear on the horizon of children’s lives to consider whether the Lord may be calling them to a special consecration.” 

The prelates called for making a great effort “to establish a culture of vocations that permeates Christian families.”

The bishops lamented that it is notable that “families calling themselves Christian oppose the vocation of their children to the priesthood or to the consecrated life.” Or there are those that “ask them to prioritize their professional future, postponing the call of the Lord.”

Jesus, ‘the most important member of the family’

The bishops of Spain also reaffirmed that “the family is the privileged environment to listen to the call of the Lord.” For this to happen, they said, “an essential aspect is educating the children in the faith,” presenting Jesus to them “as the most important member of the family.”

The prelates encouraged family prayer and taking care to form children in the virtues. In particular, children “should be forged in the virtue of fortitude to be able to go against the current” in a society “that invites you to enjoy the present moment without thinking about others.”

They also stressed the importance of including formation in “affectivity and sexuality in the broader scope of true love.”

Gift and discernment

The members of the bishops’ subcommittee encouraged parents to foster “the experience of encountering the living Christ” so that a “true friendship” can develop and so that “his voice can be recognized through discernment.”

In order for this “to be adequate, it must be open to the possibility of consecrating oneself to God,” they emphasized.

The prelates noted that parents must recognize that they don’t own the gift of their children but are the stewards of that gift in accordance with Pope Francis’ postsynodal apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia. Thus they should accompany their children in their discernment “but not make decisions for them.”

Life as an offering

In looking at the family as a school for vocations, the bishops encouraged helping young people to discover life as an offering, to convey to them a passion for life and to cultivate the charitable dimension.

Lastly, the message prepared for Holy Family Day invited Catholics to participate in “the mission” of accompanying families and helping them grow, in particular those who experience marginalization and poverty, keeping migrants in mind and without leaving aside “families who have suffered separation and divorce.”

“Let us ask the Holy Family of Nazareth for the missionary impulse to show the beauty of the vocation of love to which each and every one of us has been called,” the bishops concluded.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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