As it turns out, today (April 17,2016) is the World Day of Prayer for Vocations.
Over at Aleteia.org Deacon Greg Kandra made vocations the focus of his homily. He leads off with a quote from a letter that he received from a friend in Philadelphia:
“This morning we received devastating news at Mass. Our beloved Augustinian pastor has been diagnosed with liver cancer that has spread to his lungs. The priest who told us said that he was visiting him yesterday when a cousin came into the hospital room and told him that they are all praying for a miracle. His response was, ‘I have already received a miracle. I am a priest.’”
This is probably the best – and most honest – answer to those who have an objection to a man entering the priesthood. Ordination is an extraordinary event and being allowed to share in the priesthood of Christ in a special way is, indeed, a miracle.
Deacon Greg speaks with great reverence and love about his own call and ordination as a permanent deacon and talks of it as an on-going source of grace and blessing in his life:
Surveys tell us again and again that clergy and religious report among the greatest job satisfaction in the world.
That’s because it’s not a job. It’s a vocation.
As that priest in Philadelphia knew: it is, in fact, a miracle.
Finally, he suggests ways of introducing young men to the idea of the priesthood. The best advice he gives is that you should ask God if you (or someone you know) is called. He points to Pope Francis who advises young people to “Ask Jesus what he wants and be brave!”
In an address to seminarians in Rome this week, Pope Francis outlined the appropriate way to respond to God’s call — to be all in and not “half-way” priests.
“We respond to this vocation in the same way as the Virgin Mary does to the angel: “How is this possible?” Becoming “good shepherds” in the image of Jesus “is something very great and we are so small.”
“Yes, it is true, it is too great; but it is not our work! It is the work of the Holy Spirit, with our collaboration,” Francis said in his address to the College, adding spontaneous comments here and there to his prepared speech.
“It is about humbly giving oneself, like clay that is to be moulded, letting God the potter work the clay with fire and water, with the Word and the Holy Spirit.”
It is true that “at the beginning intentions are not completely righteous, and it is hard for them to be so. All of us have had moments when our intentions were not completely righteous but in time this changes with everyday conversion. Think of the apostles! Think of James and John. One of them wanted to be prime minister and the other a minister of the economy because it was a more important role. The apostles’ mind was elsewhere but the Lord patiently corrected their intention and in the end the intention of their preaching and martyrdom was incredibly righteous.”
So, on this World Day of Prayer for Vocations, take a moment to ask God to call those whom he chooses to the priesthood and offer to be the bearer of that message if you can.