Back-to-school ruminations and prayers.
It’s time for back-to-school. We’re overloading with preparation, scheduling, and planning. We have goals and hopes for the academic year. We made check-lists and to-do lists and standards lists miles long.
In all the flurry of change and anxiety and excitement, let’s remember the reason for it all.
The vocation of a child
Sometimes I get caught up in the idea of a vocation as a final destination. And there’s only three options: married, single, religious.
But that takes our focus off of our current calling and responsibility. Our vocation isn’t a one-time or someday thing. It’s a right-now thing. Each and every one of us has a vocation, a call to pursue holiness in whatever state of life we’re in right now.
Our vocation isn’t a one-time or someday thing. It’s a right-now thing. Tweet this.
For me, this means that even though I’ve discerned and entered into the state of marriage, my work’s not done. I’m called to love my husband and children more each day. I’m called to joyfully do the dishes, laundry, grocery shopping, teaching, disciplining, praying, and everything else that’s required of me as a wife and mom. I’m called to continually grow in holiness in little ways every day.
Children have vocations too.
And that means more than dreaming about being a mom or dad or priest or nun when they grow up. It means they have a call to holiness right now, as a child. God has a special plan for them to grow in virtue and love Him more each and every day.
Being a child is their vocation!
They’re called to learn obedience as a son or daughter. To learn friendship and kindness as a brother or sister. And to learn diligence and studiousness as a student.
As parents, we need to foster our children’s vocations. To impress on them the importance of their child-sized lives in God’s eyes. To encourage them to joyfully embrace the tasks of life God calls them to. That’s what it takes to live our vocation well, no matter what age or stage of life we may be in.
Know, love, and serve God
School helps children know, love, and serve God.
When we teach children religion or theology, we help them grow in knowledge of God directly.
But academic knowledge helps them know God too. It teaches them how to relate to the wold around them. How to understand and appreciate God’s creation.
Reading opens the door to exploration, imagination, and access to Holy Scripture. Math reveals the beauty of order and logic in the world. Science exposes the greatness of God’s design – His Divine Providence in creating all things to work together for good. History conveys the effect of lives lived virtuously, and not-so-virtuously. And the reality of consequences of our actions. The arts open our minds to experience God’s creativity and beauty.
It doesn’t matter so much that our kids learn the specific facts in each lesson, but that they’re opening their minds to experience God more fully through the gift of knowledge. That they’re opening their hearts to the love of learning for the sake of God’s love. That they’re serving God in cultivating virtue through their daily work.
Not what, but why
As we launch into the new school year, let’s keep our focus not on the what, but on the why.
We don’t “do school” for its own sake.
Not because our kids won’t survive without dates and verbs and addition. But because God gave our children vastly growing and expanding minds at this precious young age. He made them for learning. And by learning, to know Him, love Him, and serve Him.
God made children for learning. And by learning, to know love and serve Him. Tweet this.
Let’s remember that growth and formation and discovery are where our children find their vocations right now.
Let’s encourage them to seek God first and give Him glory in their schoolwork, and all they do.
Vocation prayers for students
I wrote prayers to say with my students every day, to remind them and me of the importance of pursuing their vocation through their studies.
For younger students:
For older students:
Download and print these prayers:
For younger students:
For older students:
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