Discerning the Vocation of Marriage: Her Perspective
I am an extremely decisive person; I am good at getting things done, and I (to my own detriment) take too much pleasure in having control.
As a result, I have always known what I wanted, and been able to achieve what I wanted through my own hard work and dedication.
I wanted good grades, so I worked hard and got them. I wanted a university degree, so I put in four years and earned it. I wanted a respectable job after graduation, so I went for interviews and achieved one.
But when it came to my vocation, I realized that I could not simply earn what I wanted through my own efforts, and that my entire thought-process surrounding the discernment of my vocation was incredibly self-centred. Rather, discerning my vocation was about understanding what God wanted for me.
Discerning any vocation well, is a call to move away from the self and towards the will of God and the good of others. A call to stop serving yourself, and instead serve others.
So in order to truly discern, I had to leave my own wants and desires behind and rely completely on the Lord, trusting that He would lead me down the best path for the sanctification of my soul. And it was in this complete abandonment of my own will that I had the clarity to see God’s call to marriage and the man He intended for me.
It was about one month after these realizations that Matthew and I began our courtship. With time and consistent prayer we were blessed with the understanding that God intended marriage for us. And over the past year I have slowly realized what my true role will be as Matthew’s future wife and as the future mother of any children (God willing) we may be blessed with. This marriage is not for my own enjoyment, it is not for my own happiness, but rather these are God-given side effects of an otherwise serious and binding commitment.
Once married, as wife and mother I will have a responsibility to my husband and to our children, a responsibility to guard their souls and encourage them down the path of sanctification. By allowing me to be wife and mother, God is entrusting their souls to me while here on earth. And I pray that by His grace and the holy intercession of the Blessed Virgin, I will have the strength and perseverance to do so.
So to any women discerning their vocation, I encourage you to move past your self-centredness. Truly forget what you want and seek God’s will alone.
Realize that if He is calling you to marriage, He is calling you to a commitment unlike any other, He is calling you to a constant and necessary state of self-sacrifice, He is asking you to guard and nourish the souls of those He infinitely loves.
And by no means whatsoever is this a trivial request.
Discerning the Vocation of Marriage: His Perspective
“Marriage is a duel to the death, which no man of honour should decline.” – G.K. Chesterton’s Manalive
During the time that I spent seriously discerning marriage a couple things have struck me.
The first is how little respect there is for fatherhood in society. Being a husband, father, protector and leader has become taboo. What was once (and still is) a joy and path of sanctification has now come to be seen as a hindrance to many men. The second may be the reason for the first and it is that men don’t know why they should get married. They are not told that this is vocation, a duty that one should take pride in and be glad you are called too. None of this dawned on me until after I had started courting my fiancée, when I finally sat down and started to think “could I possibly be on the path to marriage?”
In order to know what something is (being a husband), we must know its final end, and the final end of being a husband is twofold. The first is natural, the protection and care of your wife and children and to lead them in virtue. This is natural in that one can come to know this outside of the Catholic Church. The second part is our supernatural end, the Beatific vision. This end can only be accomplished by grace and supplants our natural end. This means that the husband’s role is of the utmost importance, you are charged with the care of your wife and children (God willing many, many children). It is your duty to father them in virtue, protect them from sin and lead them to heaven.
In the rule of St. Benedict, he tells us that the Abbot is in charge of all of the souls of the monks who he presides over. The same with priests, who will have to answer for their flocks. If they fail in leading them to heaven then that weighs on his soul. How much more so for the husband who is bound by blood to his kin and the inseparable bond of marriage to his wife! This is a frightening thing to think of, but, as all of God’s laws, it is a sweet yoke.
Do not think of marriage as a fall back option if other vocations don’t work out. It is a calling and you must prepare yourself for it long before the time comes.
The world needs fathers and husbands, the world needs men who are strong enough to answer the call.
Julianna and Matthew are preparing to unite their lives through the sacrament of marriage this summer. They currently live in Edmonton, AB, where Julianna is completing a B.Ed and Matthew is studying theology.