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Q & A with Father Anthony

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How normal is changeability?

Monica asks:

Dear Fr Anthony,

A few months ago my daughter was interested in the consecrated life and now she is not. She was going to visit a formation program and has changed her mind. How should I encourage her? She is a holy young lady and I think she very well may have a vocation yet I don't want to put pressure on her. What can you suggest? How normal is this in the discernment process?


Dear Monica,

I think Christ and Mary must be very pleased with your delicate concern for your daughter’s possible vocation. You can be sure that their help will be there in abundance for you and your daughter, and one of the most effective things you can do is turn to them in prayer with faith and trust. Pray for your daughter, her happiness, an increase in her love for God, her faith, hope, love and prudence. Pray that she will have the generosity to put others before herself. Pray to Mary to protect her from all harm and evil, and especially to conserve her heart pure.

How normal is changeability in a teen-age girl, even one who may have a vocation? Very. The aria says, 'fickle as a feather on the wind.' Good description.

What can you do to help her besides praying?

She is at the age that brings with it the crucial challenge of interiorizing and making personal all that you and your husband have tried to instill in her ever since she was little. Like a tree outgrowing its props, she is approaching the age when the depth of her roots is what will keep her safe in stormy times. Take advantage of the time you still have to help her to continue to grow and mature in her faith, making sure she learns the why and wherefore of what she believes in, and her moral principles. Do what you can so that she has friends whose influence will be positive as she becomes more independent from you. Encourage her to stay involved in her apostolate. You want to continue to do all you can to round out the harmonious integral growth of her spiritual, intellectual, human and apostolic life, for as much time as you still have. Form her while you protect her, so that she will be ready for life.

All of this will prepare the ground to be docile and generous if God wishes to plant in her soul the seed of a vocation.

At the appropriate time and in the appropriate circumstances, asking her about what she once said about maybe the consecrated life is not pressure but respectful, open, adult conversation, especially if your obvious main concern is God's will for her life and therefore her true happiness.

But never forget that the dignity and value of each person is in their free will, and therein also lies our greatest weakness. You can protect, help and encourage up to a point, but each one’s life is ultimately in their own hands

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