An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


I have some missionary friends. I know several people studying to become priests. Some friends are deacons. Some are members of religious movements. We even had a sister from Tanzania stay with us last summer (she will return again this June).

I, however, have not been called to the religious life.

But I have been called.

In his document Christifidelis Laici (articles 60-63), John Paul II recognized the role of the lay faithful in the church. While most of us are not called to the religious life, our role as a lay person is still a vocation. As mothers, fathers, teachers, mailmen, store clerks . . . we are out in the world, mingling with society and acting as representatives of our faith. In many ways, we are on the "front lines".

In this document, John Paul II wrote that to be an effective apostle of Christ, there are three specific areas of integrated formation that help form the whole person. These areas are:

spiritual formation: all that affects faith and prayer life and what relates directly to your personal relationship with God

doctrinal or intellectual formation: includes all that helps you to form and expand your mind and intellect, including reading great books and continued faith formation

human formation: deals with your human nature and those things that help you grow humanly or socially, including manners, etiquette, personal habits, nutrition, exercise

Well. It's a good thing I wasn't called to a religious life because I can barely manage these three areas. I lack human formation when I neglect my exercise routine or when I don't reach out to someone; I neglect doctrinal formation when I waste too much time with secular novels and mindless television; oftentimes, too many times, really, I neglect my prayer life.

But I have a vocation, so I am trying to teach myself to step back every once in a while and re-evaluate my life, because I have noticed, in those moments when I have experienced true peace, those times have been marked with a balance of all three areas.

As we approach Pentecost Sunday, which coincides wonderfully with Mother's Day (motherhood . . . now that's a vocation!) I am thankful for the Holy Spirit. Just by asking, gifts such as fortitude (thanks, Lisa), wisdom, counsel, and understanding can help me become that whole person called by God.


:o) mg said...

And I might add that you are doing a nice job in the vocation of being married. You are giving your sons their most important example of what Christ-like love is to each other in the sacrament of marriage.
Like being a mother, it isn't always easy, and you may have "moments" you'd like to re-do, but what an important role you have as a wife.
A local priest who sadly passed away unexpectedly a couple of summers ago said one time in a homily that doing our jobs correctly as a married couple, means leading one other to sainthood. (He did a much better job at explaining it.)
But, you, Bia, have the heart of a servant and you show everyone you meet a snippet of the beautiful love of Christ.

j.a.varela said...


I´ve translated another of your articles for Familia en Construcción.

Please, take a look in
and tell me if everything is ok.

On the other hand, of course motherhood is a way of sanctity, as all honest jobs and situations can be. Sanctity is not only for nuns and priests. We all are called.

¿May I suggest you to visit ?

You will find there many answers to your questions.


Laura said...

The topic of vocations is one that is near and dear to my heart. I am going to teach the concepts of the three areas you mentioned in this post to my sixth grade class. (Of course I will scale back a bit....) Thank you for this. Good stuff and gentle reminders of the needs for our spiritual well-being.

E said...

You are a sweet gentle witness right here and of course at home with all those boys.
I was called to motherhood, and I think we are all called to live with intention. Paying heed to our intention is never simple but always worthwhile.
Your intention shines through....

Lisa said...

These are such great thoughts, Bia! It is an important vocation, motherhood ~ Heaven's, we may not be called to be priests or nuns, but we may be called to raise them! Or to raise parents who raise religious in further generations. What if we're supposed to be starting a dynasty that produces a saint? That's a huge responsibility! Yikes! But, then, just our daily interactions with one another is a responsibility, too. Your example of Catholic motherhood here on the worldwide web is such an inspiration, Bia ~ and maybe a part of your calling right now, too?

Bia said...

mg- I like the idea that my husband and I are leading each other to sainthood. Thank you for your lovely comment.

Juan- I am honored that you used one of my earlier posts for familia en construccion. Muchas gracias!

Laura- I am so impressed you teach sixth graders! I've volunteered in kindergarten, taught high school, and was a camp counselor to middle school students . . . the hardest group? middle schoolers! So, you have a true vocation!!!

e- thank you so much for your kind words; I always appreciate your visits.

Lisa- That's true . . . I may be raising a future priest. Mamma Mia!

Kathryn said...

Thanks Bia, I needed this post!

SuzyQ said...

Hi Bia!
Thanks so much for your comment over at my blog:)
It's so kind of you to give me your support!
I can really relate to this post! I too feel "called" As a Mum I feel a strong calling to devote myself to my family. It can be hard for me to balance outside commitments with this at times.
Prayer for me is intergrated into action alot of the time, I have to admit!

GrandmaK said...

I am certain that the love, tenderness and care with which you nurture the family God has given you is "nutritionally, high caloric" but certainly more life giving than the the diet that feeds the body. Thanks be to God!!! Cathy