Monday, April 6th, 2009
Pope Benedict XVI has released his message for the 46th World Day of Prayer for Vocations, which will be observed this May 3, the Fourth Sunday of Easter. The theme of his text is “Faith in the Divine Initiative – The Human Response.”
In recent years the Province of St. Joseph has been blessed with a great number of vocations. For this, every Dominican parish and apostolate in the Eastern United States should give thanks to God. But our work is not done. Fostering vocations is not simply a matter of offering the occasional petition and prayer. It requires more, like creating environments within homes and parishes in which religious and priestly vocations can be considered and encouraged. Creating a culture of vocation also requires every Christian to attain a deep understanding and appreciation of the priesthood and religious life. These vocations are not mere ornaments on the Body of Christ. They they constitute part of its very essence. Without bishops and priests, we do not have the Eucharist or the forgiveness of sins. The Christian life cannot be lived fully without these gifts of Christ. And the emergence of religious vocations from within families and communities demonstrates their own holiness and deep appropriation of Christian grace, a fidelity of life made possible by the ministry of priests.
May we continue to ask the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into his harvest. May our desire for these vocations deepen as we grow in our understanding of the purpose and mission of Christ’s Church.
MESSAGE OF THE HOLY FATHER
FOR THE 46th WORLD DAY
OF PRAYER FOR VOCATIONS
3 MAY 2009
“Faith in the Divine Initiative – The Human Response”
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Brothers and Sisters,
On the occasion of the next World Day of prayer for vocations to the priesthood and to the consecrated life, which will be celebrated on 3 May 2009, the Fourth Sunday of Easter, I want to invite all the People of God to reflect on the theme: Faith in the divine initiative – the human response. The exhortation of Jesus to his disciples: “Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest” (Mt 9:38) has a constant resonance in the Church. Pray! The urgent call of the Lord stresses that prayer for vocations should be continuous and trusting. The Christian community can only really “have ever greater faith and hope in God’s providence” (Sacramentum Caritatis, 26) if it is enlivened by prayer.
The vocation to the priesthood and to the consecrated life constitutes a special gift of God which becomes part of the great plan of love and salvation that God has for every man and woman and for the whole of humanity. The Apostle Paul, whom we remember in a special way during this Pauline Year dedicated to the Two-thousandth anniversary of his birth, writing to the Ephesians says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him” (Ef 1:3-4). In the universal call to holiness, of particular relevance is God’s initiative of choosing some to follow his Son Jesus Christ more closely, and to be his privileged ministers and witnesses. The divine Master personally called the Apostles “to be with him, and to be sent out to preach and have authority to cast out demons” (Mk 3:14-15); they, in turn, gathered other disciples around them as faithful collaborators in this mission. In this way, responding to the Lord’s call and docile to the movement of the Holy Spirit, over the centuries, countless ranks of priests and consecrated persons placed themselves totally at the service of the Gospel in the Church. Let us give thanks to God, because even today he continues to call together workers into his vineyard. While it is undoubtedly true that a worrisome shortage of priests is evident in some regions of the world, and that the Church encounters difficulties and obstacles along the way, we are sustained by the unshakable certitude that the one who firmly guides her in the pathways of time towards the definitive fulfilment of the Kingdom is he, the Lord, who freely chooses persons of every culture and of every age and invites them to follow him according to the mysterious plans of his merciful love.