Have you ever looked at a priest or religious and wondered how it was that he or she came to be there – what made that person willing and able to say “yes” to God’s call? Susie Lloyd, author of Please Don’t Drink the Holy Water and Bless Me, Father, For I Have Kids, decided to find out. She interviewed ten priests and religious to discover what their families of origin had been like in order to learn what lessons those families had to teach. She shares their stories in Yes, God! What Ordinary Families Can Learn About Parenting from Today’s Vocation Stories (Ave Maria Press, 2013). As Lloyd states, “I wanted to raise heroic kids – kids who could say yes to God in whatever way he calls. Or at least, I didn’t want to blow it.”
It is heartening to know that there is no one right way to be a parent and these families illustrate this point quite nicely. Some families were large and others small. Some struggled with poverty. Some homeschooled, while others attended public or Catholic school. Some lived lives literally dripping with the Catholic faith while for others it was more subtle. Yet each of these families has something to teach the rest of us, a virtue or practice we can emulate. These include generosity, love of God and neighbor, respecting duty, treasuring the inheritance of our faith, being strong, and embracing spiritual poverty.
Lloyd is best known as a humorist and she brings her sense of humor into these pages. She is willing to laugh at her own parenting mishaps and challenges, and in her laughter, parents will recognize some of their own challenges. (For the record, I actually have had a child drink a bottle of holy water – I would like to say it brought instant sanctity, but there seemed to be no discernible effect.) She is a mother who, even with her vast experience as a mother of six, is willing to admit she is not perfect and that there is still much to learn.
As Lloyd hoped when she set out on this literary and spiritual quest, there is much to be learned from the families profiled in Yes, God! It is also great reading for those who wonder how it is that a young person receives and answers a call from God. It can help make all of us more open to God’s small quiet voice speaking in our lives.