Glad I clicked on this article by Elizabeth Scalia at First Things. (I almost never click on anything that doesn’t arrive whole and entire in my feed reader. This one was worth it.) She writes:
A sense of calling is an idea to which our children often lack an introduction. We tell students they can plot their futures based on test scores measuring information regurgitation; we have no means of measuring their imaginations or their dreams, yet is from these that their deepest and truest longings—and thus their vocations, the things they were born to do—are discovered.
Last year I tried discussing vocations with the fifth graders. I began by asking, “What are you good at? What do you love to do?”
My own children have a clear sense of these things by late-elementary school. They know what they like — military history for that one, emergency medicine for the other. Even younger, they know what they are like. This one reads massive quanitities of everything, writes satire, and loves hard manual labor; that one has a talent for teaching and connecting with small children; this one wants to know how it works and then make her own; that one feels everything very, very deeply.
Those were the types of answers I expected from my 5th graders. Instead, they produced a list of academic subjects and school sports. They were a room full of people who like math and play soccer. Very few had a hobby other than an organized sport or club; even fewer had an interest in a field of study beyond whatever passes for “social studies” or “language arts”. The idea that you might, say, love poetry and have developed a taste for this or that type of poem? Nope.
Their worlds, it seemed, were so narrow. No room in the schedule for finding out who they were and what they loved.
Sometimes I feel like the music instructor pushing the talented kid to attend a thousand workshops and camps, when I take parents aside and tell them that this son or daughter has a talent for theology, and needs to be given more instruction, above and beyond the regular parish offerings.
I tell my DRE that if we don’t offer a serious high school religious ed program, we are like a school praying for more pre-med students, but never offering high school biology. Do we really want more priests and religious? We have to give our students a chance to discover the depth and riches of an adult faith. And then, if they are called, to fall in love.