I found Fr David Garcia’s comments in FamilyLife Society’s bulletin page on the crisis in marriage and the family enlightening (CN, May 20, 2012).
I cannot but agree with him that there seems indeed a link between the perceived crisis in marriage and that of vocations today. After all, what are the qualities that we would associate with priests or Religious for that matter?
Some qualities would include, but are not confined to, the following: being generous, having a listening ear and being sensitive to the needs of others, and having the capacity to sacrifice oneself for the good of others.
We know for a fact that values are caught and not taught. Thus, it would seem that the cradle of such character education lies in none other than the family, where parents are, as Blessed John Paul II mentioned in Familiaris Consortio, the “primary educators”of their children.
The example of their parents allows individuals to learn firsthand of what it means to have a close relationship with God,what it means to listen and to make the effort to understand another, what it means to put aside one’s own self interest at times when the needs of “the other” in the family call for it, and how fulfilling it is when one makes a“sincere gift” of oneself to others.
For families to fulfill their role well in this aspect of character education, the marital relationship of the parents must be strong.
When spouses make the constant decision to love and make sacrifices for the good of each other, their children who see this played out in real life on a daily basis will appreciate more fully the following exhortation of the Second Vatican Council that “Man...cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself” (Gaudium et Spes 24).
And when they do, the chances of them responding to the call of service in the priesthood and religious vocation will be that much higher.
In other words, it would seem that if we are to encourage more vocations to the priesthood and Religious life, we must first and foremost defend, promote andstrengthen the institution of marriage today.