He speaks of every Christian as a “Christopher, a bearer of Christ, to his brothers and sisters”.
He clearly names for us that it is every baptised Christian who has a unique and personal call or vocation from God.
He continues the emphasis of Vatican II in naming that it is not just priests and religious who have a vocation but all of us. Each of us through marriage and family life, single life, lay ministry in the Church, priests, deacons and consecrated religious are called to a unique purpose and mission in life to bring God’s love into our world.
In particular, Pope Francis reflects on “the missionary dimension of our Christian calling”. He continues: “Those who are drawn by God’s voice and determined to follow Jesus soon discover within themselves an irrepressible desire to bring the Good News to their brothers and sisters through proclamation and the service of charity. All Christians are called to be missionaries of the Gospel!……We are simply men and women touched and transformed by the joy of God’s love, who cannot keep this experience to ourselves….Commitment to mission is not something added on to the Christian life as a decoration, but is an essential element of faith itself.”
It is consciously in this context that Pope Francis speaks of the vocation to the priesthood. “With renewed missionary enthusiasm, priests are called to go forth from sacred precincts of the temple and to let God’s tender love overflow for the sake of humanity. The Church needs such priests: serenely confident because they have discovered the true treasure, anxious to go out and joyfully to make it know to all.”
Above all the words of our Pope are filled with hope and confidence for the future. This surely is the message we need to hear. “We must overcome a sense of our own inadequacy and not yield to pessimism, which merely turns us into passive spectators of a dreary and monotonous life…..This is our reason for confidence: God surpasses all our expectations and constantly surprised us by his generosity.”
How then do we encourage and call forth the vocations of our young people? Pope Francis gives us this answer. “There can be no promotion of vocations or Christian mission apart from constant contemplative prayer. The Christian life needs to be nourished by attentive listening to God’s word…I ask parish communities, associations and the many prayer groups present in the Church not to yield to discouragement but to continue praying that the Lord will send workers to his harvest.”
Here’s something we can all do. As individuals, parishes and communities, let’s take up this request. Spend time alone, but especially with others before the Blessed Sacrament in prayer. Pray at home as a family. Every vocation is about responding to life as a blessing and a call from God. This vision only comes through prayer; spending time with the Lord and learning to see from His perspective; seeing his purposes and sharing in them.
Pope Francis concludes his message with a call for renewed confidence in our faith and the openness of our young people for an encounter with Christ and readiness to serve him.
“Despite a widespread sense that the faith is listless or reduced to mere duties to discharge, our young people desired to discover the perennial attraction of Jesus, to be challenged by his words and actions and to cherish the ideal that he holds out of a life that is fully human, happy to spend itself in love.”
Fr Dean Marin
Director of Vocations
National Vocations Awareness Week from August 6-13, 2017
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