Pope Urges Entire Church to Promote Vocations
Benedict XVI is underlining the necessity for every member of the Church to promote religious vocations. This was one of the points emphasized by the Pope in a message for the 48th World Day of Prayer for Vocations, which will be celebrated on May 15 on the theme of "Proposing Vocations in the Local Church."
The Pontiff noted that "particularly in these times, when the voice of the Lord seems to be drowned out by other voices and his invitation to follow him by the gift of one's own life may seem too difficult, every Christian community, every member of the Church, needs consciously to feel responsibility for promoting vocations."
"It is important to encourage and support those who show clear signs of a
call to priestly life and religious consecration, and to enable them to feel
the warmth of the whole community as they respond 'yes' to God and the
Church," he said.
The Holy Father affirmed that "the Lord does not fail to call people at every stage of life to share in his mission and to serve the Church in the ordained ministry and in the consecrated life."
He asserted, "It is essential that every local Church become more sensitive and attentive to the pastoral care of vocations, helping children and young people in particular at every level of family, parish and associations -- as Jesus did with his disciples -- to grow into a genuine and affectionate friendship with the Lord, cultivated through personal and liturgical prayer."
Benedict XVI encouraged helping youth "to grow in familiarity with the
Sacred Scriptures and thus to listen attentively and fruitfully to the Word of
God; to understand that entering into God's will does not crush or destroy a
person, but instead leads to the discovery of the deepest truth about
ourselves; and finally to be generous and fraternal in relationships with
others, since it is only in being open to the love of God that we discover true
joy and the fulfillment of our aspirations."
The Pope appealed to priests "to testify to their communion with their bishop and their fellow priests, and thus to provide a rich soil for the seeds of a priestly vocation."
He encouraged families to be "animated by the spirit of faith and love and by the sense of duty, which is capable of helping children to welcome generously the call to priesthood and to religious life."
The Pontiff encouraged "catechists and leaders of Catholic groups and ecclesial movements, convinced of their educational mission," to "seek to guide the young people entrusted to them so that these will recognize and freely accept a divine vocation."
"Every moment in the life of the Church community -- catechesis, formation meetings, liturgical prayer, pilgrimages -- can be a precious opportunity for awakening in the People of God, and in particular in children and young people, a sense of belonging to the Church and of responsibility for answering the call to priesthood and to religious life by a free and informed decision," he affirmed.
The Holy Father noted, "The ability to foster vocations is a hallmark of the vitality of a local Church."
He concluded, "With trust and perseverance let us invoke the aid of the Virgin Mary, that by the example of her own acceptance of God's saving plan and her powerful intercession, every community will be more and more open to saying 'yes' to the Lord who is constantly calling new laborers to his harvest."