Building up a vocational 'symphony'
St Joseph, the patron of the universal Church, was many things. In particular, he was a dreamer. God’s plan for him was revealed in dreams. God sustained him in his mission through his dreams.
Joseph learnt not simply to follow his own will but to do the will of God, God’s dream, in dreams. This is not to say that Joseph was dreamy or unconnected with this world, rather the opposite. He was deeply engaged in his mission within the Holy Family because of this.
Little wonder then that Pope Francis, and other recent popes, have held up St Joseph as a model of the Christian life (think of the recent Year of St Joseph, Dec 8 2020 – Dec 8 2021). We are encouraged as missionary disciples to, like Joseph, lift up our hearts and dream, not just our own dream, but ‘God’s dream’.
Each year the Pope issues a message for World Day of Prayer for Vocations.
In last year’s message Pope Francis said: “When we speak of ‘vocation’, then, it is not just about choosing this or that way of life, devoting one’s life to a certain ministry or being attracted by the charism of a religious family, movement or ecclesial community.
“It is about making God’s dream come true, the great vision of fraternity that Jesus cherished when He prayed to the Father ‘that they may all be one’.
“Each vocation in the Church, and in a broader sense in society, contributes to a common objective, namely, that of celebrating among men and women that harmony of manifold gifts that can only be brought about by the Holy Spirit.”
The Archdiocese needs many vocations, and one acute need is more priests and deacons. We do not have enough. Hardly breaking news! I am heartened by the many efforts in praying for vocations. What we still need to foster more deeply is a culture of vocations within the Archdiocese. While it all begins with baptism, it can’t simply remain there.
In his reflection for the 60th World Day of Prayer for Vocations this year, Pope Francis invites us to “in your reflection and prayer, to take as your guide the theme ‘Vocation: Grace and Mission’.”
He then adds, “the Church is a vocational ‘symphony’, with every vocation united yet distinct, in harmony and joined together in ‘going forth’ to radiate throughout the world the new life of the kingdom of God.”
I encourage parishes, families, communities, our clergy, parents and individuals to build up this symphony by inviting people to consider if God might be calling them to follow and serve.
Agents of Communion; Participation and Mission
Many are the roles of a priest and deacon. Among them are to be agents of Communion; Participation and Mission. These three words come from the subtitle of the coming Synod in Rome in October 2023 and 2024.
If we wish to understand what synodality looks like, we need look no further than those three words. If every baptised person is called to be an agent of Communion; Participation and Mission, even more so a priest or deacon. How do we make our parishes more places of Communion; Participation and Mission? How do we allow our clergy to be more effective ministers of Communion; Participation and Mission?
With St Joseph, and St Patrick – our Diocesan patron – as guides, with the inspiration of St Mary of the Cross MacKillop who ‘pioneered new ways of living the Gospel’ and by standing on the shoulders of the countless thousands who have lived out their baptismal call, may we allow that vocational ‘symphony’ to flourish amongst us, that others may have life and have it to the full.
Let me conclude with Pope Francis’ prayer from this year’s World Day of Prayer for Vocations:
“O Jesus, divine Shepherd of souls, you called the apostles and made them fishers of people. Continue to draw to yourself ardent and generous souls from among the young, in order to make them your followers and your ministers. Give them a share in your thirst for the redemption of all…open before them the horizons of the entire world…by responding to your call, may they prolong your mission here on earth, build up your Mystical Body which is the Church, and be ‘the salt of the earth’ and ‘the light of the world’. (Mt 5:13)”
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