By Mario and Paola Martinez
What comes to mind when you think of the word vocation?
People frequently think about the priesthood, religious life, or an unmarried young man called to do missionary work.
We often hear about the importance of prayer for vocations, because they are key to the future of our Church. A vocation is synonymous to a “calling” from God to know Him, love Him, and serve Him. A vocation is not something to be added to a person, but part of their identity that configures and constitutes the human person.
Long before we got married: we were aware of the great gift that God offered us through vocations, and the desire to love God and let ourselves be loved by Him burned in our hearts. These elements proved to be indispensable in accepting God’s call to the vocation of marriage.
Have you ever before considered that marriage is also a vocation?
It is a beautiful calling, full of ups and downs, good times and bad.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church suggests that before entering a courtship the couple must discern whether marriage is for them.
Our courtship stage was instrumental in discerning the vocation of marriage.
For us, it became necessary to have an extensive awareness of who we were, and whether or not we were meant for each other.
We also knew that the vocation of marriage must be built first and foremost on having a personal and profound experience with God. Our frequent visits to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament were a fundamental part of our discernment.
Our four-year courtship was lived in “community” serving our Lord. This provided us with an excellent form of marriage preparation, since it taught us to serve instead of being served, which is critical in marriage.
With each day that passed, we became aware that marriage was the vocation that God had engraved in our hearts.
On many of our dates, we read books on the vocation of marriage, and how to live a healthy relationship.
We attended many retreats, prayer groups. and conferences with the desire to feed on the Word and the presence of God. As the Lord filled us with His love, His plans for our life became apparent.
It is important to mention that while we were dating we both had a life of our own. We enjoyed our time with our family, friends, school, work, hobbies and preserved our personal goals.
We also compared our lifestyles, specifically in terms of the values and faith that we practiced.
From the beginning, we established clear and healthy boundaries with respect to the time we would spend together and the physical expressions of love that we would have, always keeping in mind our dignity as children of God.
Long before we met, God began to sow in our hearts the desire to someday get married and form a family. What a blessing to experience the faithfulness of God, when we accept the gift of our vocation! Whenever we see the smiling faces of our children, Camila and Dario, we give thanks to God for His everlasting faithfulness.
“Children should be so educated that as adults they can follow their vocation, including a religious one, with a mature sense of responsibility and can choose their state of life; if they marry, they can thereby establish their family in favorable moral, social and economic conditions” (Gaudium et Spes, #52).
Mario Martinez is the coordinator of the Diocesan Marriage Initiative in the Office of Catechetical Ministry.