No Complacency in Regards to Vocations-Pope Benedict XVI

by Sister Julie Ann on April 17, 2008

 In an address at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on April 16, 2008 after commending the United States Catholic Bishops on their pastoral priority of strengthening the vocation of marriage and family life, Bishop Benedict XVI answered a further question regarding vocations this way:

sand.jpgWhat is needed above all, at this time in the history of the Church in America is a renewal of that apostolic zeal which inspires her shepherds  actively to seek out the lost, to bind up those who have been wounded, and to bring strength to those who are languishing (cf. Ez 34:16). And this, as I have said, calls for new ways of thinking based on a sound diagnosis of today’s challenges and a commitment to unity in the service of the Church’s mission to the present generation.

Let us be quite frank: the ability to cultivate vocations to the priesthood and the religious life is a sure sign of the health of the Church. There is no room for complacency in this regard. God continues to call young people; it is up to all of us to encourage a generous and free response to that call. On the other hand, none of us can take grace for granted.

In the Gospel, Jesus tells us to pray that the Lord of the harvest will send workers. He even admits that the workers are few in comparison with the abundance of the harvest (cf. Mt 9:37-38). Strange to say, I often think that prayer – the unum necessarium – is the one aspect of vocations work which we tend to forget or to undervalue!

Nor am I speaking only of prayer for vocations.Prayer itself, born in Catholic families, nurtured by programs of Christian formation, strengthened by the grace of the sacraments, is the first means by 0429field.jpgwhich we come to know the Lord’s will for our lives. To the extent that we teach young people to pray, and to pray well, we will be cooperating with God’s call. Programs, plans and projects have their place; but the discernment of a vocation is above all the fruit of an intimate dialogue between the Lord and his disciples. Young people, if they know how to pray, can be trusted to know what to do with God’s call.

It has been noted that there is a growing thirst for holiness in many young people today, and that, although fewer in number, those who come forward show great idealism and much promise. It is important to listen to them, to understand their experiences, and to encourage them to help their peers to see the need for committed priests and religious, as well as the beauty of a life of sacrificial service to the Lord and his Church. To my mind, much is demanded of vocation directors and formators: candidates today, as much as ever, need to be given a sound intellectual and human formation which will enable them not only to respond to the real questions and needs of their contemporaries, but also to mature in their own conversion and to persevere in life-long commitment to their vocation.

Do these words of the Holy Father speak to your heart? The Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity invite you to consider our May 30-June 1, 2008 young adult single women discernment retreat.

http://franciscanizedworld.fscc-calledtobe.org/wp-content/uploads/2007/12/retreats-pub-2007-2008.pdf

6 thoughts on “No Complacency in Regards to Vocations-Pope Benedict XVI”

  1. As a vocation director for our community, the words of Pope Benedict give me hope! We encounter so many wonderful, faith-filled, high school and college students. I believe that Jesus is deepening his relationship with each one. The courage to respond is an act of faith relying on God’s grace.

    The commitment to discern God’s call within a particular religious community is not an easy one to make. The Holy Father states “there is no room for complacency… it is up to us to encourage a complete and free response to God’s call.”

    Our vocations are journeys not destinations. It is not a matter being sure about myself; as it is about being sure of God’s love for me!

    Fr. Ron. Rolheiser speaks of the complexity of life in his column “Becoming saints comes at a cost”
    “Becoming a saint has a real cost: Hard choice, commiment, single-mindness, willing the one thing, renouncing whatever stands in the way, sweating blood to remain faithful, and sustaining the emotional, sexual, and spiritual asceticism needed to protect that choice. At some point our procrastinating and the rationalizing have to end. We have to choose, accept the painful renunciations in side that choice, and will the one thing, GOD and faithful SERVICE of others, because ultimately our sadness comes from the fact that we are not yet saints.”

    And might I add, that the sadness comes from not making a decision to become commited as a priest, brother, or sister.In speaking with a young woman the other day, I tried to help her see that true meaning comes from choosing to be part of something larger than oneself; not concentrating on my love (or lack of it) for God, but rather that God is in love with me!

    Peace and all good to all who are in discernment! Our prayers, availability, opportunities for discussion, retreats, camps, music outreach, service, the Eucharist, are with you!
    Sister Mary Ann

  2. Just the other night I was blessed to be able to participate in the Silver Lake College Symposium 2008: A Celebration of Ideas. President and CEO of Holy Family Memorial Medical Center Mark Herzog and Extrepreneur and Owner of Courthouse Pub John Jagemann presented a session entitled “Liberal Arts: A Road Less Traveled or the Way of the Future” which included audience “thoughtful” involvement. The sharing was humorous, insightful and appropriately left one hanging with one’s own questions. Robert Frost, Oliver Wendell Homes (“I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving: To reach the port of heaven, we must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it, but we must sail, and not drift, nor lie at anchor”) and Sir Francis Drake’s poetry steered the conversation of these two Manitowoc business men who have prospered humanly and faithfully because of a broad-based knowledge and experience base. Both men made life decisions based on personal talents, but with an ever growing awareness of others’ needs. I left the evening realizing once again that anyone seeking to know one’s vocation or one’s direction for a career path needs to pray with sincerity, but also to look to God-incarnate present in family, friends and acquaintances. If one is feeling at a loss in relationships, one would do best to begin talking to someone like these two men, who have actually made a difference in others’ lives. Isn’t that at the heart of what we all truly desire?

  3. Sr. Patricia Sevcik says:

    The Gospel today proclaimed Jesus’ words, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” Today these words are a clear message for each of us. How lost are you? The road to the heart of God and into one’s own deep longing, is a road before all who want to follow Jesus. It is so important to pray, to sit and listen. God is calling. Are we listening? What does God ask of you? May you respond with your whole being!
    I am and I am very happy as a Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity.

  4. Papal Challenge: Spread God’s Kingdom
    Urges Church in US to Pray Our Father

    NEW YORK, APRIL 20, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI challenged the Church in the United States to pray and work to hasten the spread of the kingdom of God in the nation.

    The Pope urged the more than 58,000 people gathered in Yankee’s Stadium today for the last major event of his five-day visit to pray “in the Lord’s own words: ‘Thy Kingdom come.'”

    “This prayer needs to shape the mind and heart of every Christian in this nation,” he said. “It needs to bear fruit in the way you lead your lives and in the way you build up your families and your communities.

    “It needs to create new ‘settings of hope’ where God’s kingdom becomes present in all its saving power.”

    The Holy Father said praying for the coming of the God’s kingdom “also means being constantly alert for the signs of its presence, and working for its growth in every sector of society.”

    The Pontiff continued: “It means facing the challenges of present and future with confidence in Christ’s victory and a commitment to extending his reign.

    THE TREMENDOUS MESSAGE OF HOPE AND ENCOURAGEMENT TO LIVE THE GOSPEL IS POSSIBLE!
    AS FRANCISCAN SISTERS WE ARE ABLE TO TAKE THIS CHALLENGE LITERALLY EVERY MOMENT OF EVERY DAY!

    AS A YOUNG SISTER IN FORMATION THE INSPIRATION I RECEIVED FROM THE OLDER SISTERS NURTURED MY VOCATION. GETTING TO KNOW THEM, LEARNING FROM THEM, SHARING LIFE WITH THEM GIVES ME THE COURAGE AND FAITH TO REALIZE THAT RELIGIOUS LIFE IS NOT ONLY POSSIBLE FOR ME; BUT TRULY A WAY OF LIVING THAT, AS POPE BENEDICT SAID TODAY, “Creates a new setting of hope” OF HELPING JESUS BRING ABOUT THE KINGDOM IN OUR WORLD HERE AND NOW!

  5. Sr. Patricia Sevcik says:

    I believe that many young men and women are being called to priesthood and Religious life today. I pray that they will respond with generous and hope-filled hearts.Our Postulant, Angela, is looking forward to her Mission Experience with our Sisters who serve at San Xavier in Tucson, Arizona. She will go there May 4 and leave for her home visit on the 15th. Please join me in prayer for her, that she will have a safe trip and learn a lot and have fun, also. Again, please pray for Angela from June 1-7 while she is in retreat in preparation for entering our Novitiate on June 13th. Thank you and God bless you!

  6. On a lighter, but realistic FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE note, a recent comic featuring April and her friends discussing future careers had some good action advice that seemed to apply to anyone contemplating God’s call as well.

    “I mean doors open right? You get started in something an’ you meet people an’ doors open. There’s always an open door?”

    “Yeah…you just hafta remember to let go of the knob!”

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