On this Vocation Sunday we gather under the care of Christ the Good shepherd. As his faithful flock we pray for more active lay people, religious and priests to win a great harvest of souls for God. Lets confess any ways we fail in this key work of salvation.
When in the Holy Land I’d see shepherds chatting on hillsides, their sheep mixed together. They’ll never sort out that lot, I’d say. But each shepherd would call, the sheep would disentangle themselves and trot after their master. That’s Christian life, He the good shepherd, calls and we follow freely to green pastures.
This vocation Sunday were reminded that each of us have special roles in his service. Our main Christian one is to be holy. But we also have general vocations. For most its marriage. Its a sacrament because grace is needed for a life of love, faithfulness and family care. Some of course don’t marry. There’s no sacrament for that yet but there may be in the future.
Then again we all have vocational tasks in life; as nurses, teachers, shopkeepers etc. Each of us make a contribution to the building up of this world as part of God’s plan for a balanced and productive society. Christian witness is shown in such ordinary family and worldly work. And in some ways worldly work, married life and care of the young is more important than consecrated life. What keeps the world from chaos is loving Christian people and homes.
That said, this Sunday we’re to pray specially for priestly and religious vocations. For scarcity in this area is worrying. The laity’s new prominence in the church is a must, but priests are still needed to preside at the Eucharist and shepherd the flock. Without that the Christian community would be impaired. Similarly without monks, sisters and brothers service and prayer the church would be less. Their consecrated life enriches it beyond measure.
“A crisis in ministry”, a press headline said recently; “only 10 nuns joined this year”. The vocation crisis is real. At this time we need prayer, eucharistic adoration and active promotion of vocations. And there are practical steps we can take: suggest a priestly or religious vocation to children; share our vocation story; serve in parish ministry and encourage our youth to do so, support those interested in priestly or religious life.
And we should affirm priests and religious we have with friendship and prayer. For they’re shell-shocked by an increasingly secular and irreligious age. Media attacks on the church have left many demoralized. In the last few years 4 young priests left ministry in the diocese. Sure, priests disgraced the cloth and some religious abused positions of trust; we must beat our breasts. But there are a vast number of blameless consecrated people still that we must support, lest we soon have none.
Maybe its God’s will that we’ve fewer priests and religious so that the laity can come into their own, as Vatican 11 wished they would. And maybe this crisis is God’s way of bringing down harsh hierarchical structures. But even in this scenario we should pray for new vocations within a more humanely structured church that is being shaped now and Pope Francis is heralding. But Christ needs more such shepherds for his flock. Lets pray for good consecrated people in a revitalized church, so that today Christ can lead the world to God. For all else fades but he is lord of love, peace happiness and salvation both for this world and forever and ever amen. So as God’s people living out our various vocations in love and by prayer and practical means shaping a new flowering of consecrated and priestly life we…
Prayers of the faithful.
For our holy father the pope and church leaders throughout the world that they may promote good vocations and form and nurture them for a fruitful new apostolate to our age…
For ourselves that we may be active in promoting, supporting and encouraging vocations to the priestly and religious life so that our church may grow and thrive as it did in the past…
For our wonderful young people, may they find in Christ and in the priestly and religious service of God’s people, and never turn away when the Lord calls them to such devoted service…
For civil leaders that they may promote a spiritual culture that helps the flowering of good vocations in every walk of life..
For the sick that through medical and other caring vocational people they may find the healing hand of God…
For the dead, their work in this world done, may they reap the rewards of their goodness in the life to come…
And we ask all these prayers through Christ the Good Shepherd who never neglects the flock in their need amen
The story of Sister Bride, the miracle working sister, is inspiring. As a young religious, riddled with arthritis, she could scarcely walk. One day, praying in church for help, she heard God’s voice say, “Brid you are healed, go now and heal others”. She stood up perfectly well, to head an apostolate of healing to the world. Her mission is especially to priests and religious in ministry. For, as she says, they are under special attack from Satan today; he knows that they are in the front line of God’s struggle for souls. The many spiritual and physical miracles Bride saw happen before her eyes in that ministry, especially when people were blessed by the Monstrance, are described in her book, “Miracles Do Happen”. We pray that we may answer God’s call to mission as generously…Hail Mary