Lay Vocation Promoters — That the laity and Christian communities may embrace their responsibility for promoting vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
When Jesus looked out at the crowds and saw them like sheep without a shepherd, he was moved with compassion. He asked his disciples to “ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest” (Matthew 9:38).
Vocations to the priesthood and religious life come from God, but God always works through human instruments to accomplish his purposes.
Aware of our need today for good shepherds to continue the work of Jesus among us, Pope Benedict asks us to pray that we may all take seriously our responsibility to create what he has called a “culture of vocations.”
We will know we have built a culture of vocations when becoming a priest or religious is seen as something more worthwhile and praiseworthy than pursuing or achieving wealth, prestige, or pleasure.
We are praying for ourselves this month — that we may encourage and value those in our own Christian communities who are called to religious vocations.
Most of all we need to encourage vocations at home. As families have become smaller, some parents discourage their children from pursuing a vocation. It’s natural to want grandchildren, but parents ought to be just as delighted when God calls a child to the priesthood or religious life. Last October the Church beatified Louis and Zélie Martin, all of whose children entered religious life, including St. Thérèse, co-patron of the Apostleship of Prayer.
Young people in our own communities continue to respond to the love of God in Christ. Let’s encourage them to explore how God is calling them to share that love with others. Let’s pray that laity and Christian communities throughout the world may promote vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
To learn more about promoting vocations in your parish, visit the web site of the Serra Club, www.serraus.org.
Reflection — How can you help build a “culture of vocations” in your community? In your home?
Scripture — Galatians 1:15 God, who from my mother’s womb had set me apart and called me through his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, so that I might proclaim him.
A Missionary Church. In response to the Lord for the gift of faith, may the younger Catholic communities generously participate in the universal mission of the Church to proclaim the Gospel to the ends of the earth.
Just as vocations come from God, so does faith. Despite the rampant skepticism of our age, many people continue to believe the Gospel and believe in Jesus Christ. Many new churches have arisen and grown large, for example, in India and across the African continent. These are among what the Pope calls the “younger Catholic communities.” He asks us to pray this month that they will join us in proclaiming the Gospel to the whole world.
Sometimes we in the older churches tend to forget that proclaiming the Gospel is an integral part of our new life in God. Evangelization is not something invented by a marketing department in the Vatican. Jesus himself asked his followers to carry the Gospel to the ends of the earth. And he promised that he himself would be with us in this effort until the end of world.
Evangelization is integral to our faith. God is Love, and by nature love reaches out to others. Jesus himself showed us how to do it. When we encounter those who are hurting, love should move us, as it moved him, to reach out to help, to heal, and to speak of God’s love.
Pope Benedict has pointed out that spreading the Gospel is primarily and historically the work of priests and religious. And, indeed, we have seen many priests from places like India and Africa serving in parishes throughout our country. Their missionary presence testifies to the health of the emerging churches around the world, proclaims that we are a universal Church, and reminds us that we are not sufficient in ourselves. The parts of the Body of Christ need one another.
“I see the dawning of a new missionary age,” said Pope Benedict on Mission Sunday in 2008, “which will become a radiant day bearing an abundant harvest, if all Christians and missionaries and young churches in particular respond with generosity and holiness to the calls and challenges of our time.” So let us gather to pray, like the Apostles in the upper room, “together with Mary, the Mother of Jesus” (Acts 1:14). “We too,” the Pope concluded, “need to be transformed and guided by the Spirit.”
Reflection — How can you welcome or support a missionary from one of the younger churches?
Scripture — Matthew 9:36 At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd.
Prayer of the Month
O God, Who wills not the death of a sinner, but rather that he be converted and live, grant we beseech You through the intercession of the Blessed Mary, ever Virgin, Saint Joseph, her spouse, Blessed Junipero Serra, and all the saints, an increase of laborers for your Church, fellow laborers with Christ to spend and consume themselves for souls, through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God forever and ever. Amen.
— Serra Prayer for Vocations