Vocations, a Gift From
May 11, 2014
It is Mother’s
Day, and it is also the world day of prayer for vocations, especially to the
priestly life. All the readings of this Sunday speak of the good shepherd. Mothers
are very important in a priestly vocation. Behind a priest, often there is a
mother who offered her son to God. The mother of a vocation makes her child
feel free in front of that decision, she supports him but without pressure.
Because her love is disinterested, she is usually the refuge of her son, and
because she is so ready to sacrifice, she will always hold her tears in order
to see her son happy as a priest.
We need more
priests, not because they are better persons, but because we want to have Mass.
We enjoy coming to Church and having someone who says the Mass for us. We enjoy
having a priest ready to bless our house when I ask, to have a priest ready to
visit the sick when we phone. Some people at the Golden Plough, a retirement
home, are asking to have Mass more than once a month. They say, it is too
little once a month. If we don’t go to the hospital for two weeks, patients
become impatient, they start to kindly complain. We have, but we want more. In
certain difficult places where there is no priest, people gather around a
stole, they recite the Mass, and when they arrive to the words of consecration,
some of them start to cry.
We need to
pray for vocations. Priests get old, as everybody else, and the number of young
people entering the seminaries does not match the necessities of the Church. In
some places vocations grow in number, but in many other places the opposite is
happening. We need to pray for vocations. It is what Jesus commanded us to do:
“pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his
harvest” (Luke 10:2).
of speaking about the necessity of priests, or the necessity of prayer for
priests, I would like to speak about the way we should pray and work for
vocations. Forgive me if I make it a little personal this time. Once I asked
myself: “Why can we not get more people to enter the seminary? Are we not doing
enough?” We pray for vocations, we preach about vocation, and in our work with
young people we always offer to their consideration the possibility of
religious and priestly life. We dedicate ourselves to the ministry of spiritual
direction, confession and spiritual exercises, which are also effective ways of
fostering vocations. Much more could be done, but the point I want to make is a
If I ask myself
“Am I not doing enough?” I am wrong from the beginning, at least in a certain
sense. We have to do all we can, of course, but we are not to think that a
priestly vocation is a consequence of our work. A priestly vocation is a gift.
A priestly vocation is a miracle. The only one who can produce a miracle is
God. God does not like people who attribute to themselves what is only his
divine work. And sometimes we don’t get what we ask for, because we think that
we will get it because of our own goodness, or our own good works. “Look, how
many things I do for God! I should get what I want.” And we don’t get it. God
teaches us in this way to be humble, and to recognize that a vocation is a
miracle that only God can produce.
So, we don’t
have to work? That is not what I have said. God wants to give us priestly
vocations, and he also wants to give them through our prayers and our works. The
person who prays will be heard, and the person who works will be rewarded with
a vocation, if they pray and work in humility. So, if we recognize in our
hearts that a vocation is a gift from God, and that we can do little more than
nothing to help one, then, and only then, God will grant us what we desire. If
we realize that we are poor and in need, God will fill our emptiness with his
mercy. If we recognize that we are not able to produce something divine, God
will give us the grace to do it, God will work through
us in a mysterious way.
So let us
renew our prayers and our efforts to work for priestly vocations. We need them,
and God wants to call them. But let us do it in this way: let us confess in
humility that we don’t deserve them, that we cannot
produce them, but we hope to be heard by the infinite mercy of God. Be sure
that, if we pray and work in this way, God will certainly grant us what we
need. It is he himself who commanded us to pray for vocations.
we have said about prayer and work for vocations applies in a certain sense to
every prayer and every apostolic work we do. The prayer of the humble pierces
the clouds (Sir 35:17) and God gives
his grace to the humble, but resists the proud (cf. James 4:6). If we are praying for healing, or for a person to come
back to Church, we need to pray in faith and humility. God will always hear the
prayer of a humble person.
Let us offer
this holy Mass for vocations to the priesthood. May the Lord grant us what he
himself wants to give to his Church. –Fr. Andrew