Jesus Christ told his disciples to pray for vocations, and so everyone must work and pray that many young men will follow the Lordís call
Priestly vocations were the subject of the Holy Father's catechesis at the General Audience on Wednesday, 29 September, as he continued his discussion on the ministry and life of priests. Putting aside his prepared text to speak extemporaneously, the Pope stressed that it is the duty of all the Church's members to promote vocations. The Holy Father's catechesis is the 72nd in the series on the mystery of the Church and was given in Italian.
"Non vos me elegistis sed ego elegi vos". It was not you chose me, but I who chose you. With these words I would like to begin the catechesis which is part of the great cycle of catecheses on the Church. In this great cycle there is a catechesis on the vocation to the priesthood. The words Jesus spoke to the Apostles are symbolic and refer not only to the Twelve, but to all the generations of those whom Jesus Christ has called down the centuries. They refer to some in a personal way: we are speaking of the priestly vocation, but we are also thinking of the vocations of men and women to the consecrated life. It is a central problem for the Church, for the faith, for the future of the faith in this world: vocations.
Vocations, every vocation is a gift, a gift of God, according to these words of Jesus. I chose you. Thus it is a choice, an election by Jesus, one that always concerns the person. However, this person lives in the given context of a family, a society, a culture, a Church. Therefore, a vocation is a gift, but it is also the response to this gift. How each of us, how the one called, chosen, can answer this divine call depends on many circumstances. It depends on a certain inner, personal maturity; it depends on what is called cooperation with God's grace.
To know how to cooperate, how to listen, how to follow. We know well, we recall what Jesus said to that young man in the Gospel: "Follow me". To know how to follow: and when one follows, then the vocation is mature, the vocation is fulfilled, realized. And this is always for the good of the person and the community.
The community, for its part, must know how to respond to these vocations that arise within it. They are born in the family, and the family must be able to cooperate with a vocation. They are born in the parish, and the parish must be able to cooperate with a vocation. These are the circumstances of human life, of human existence: existential circumstances.
A vocation, the response to a vocation, depends to a very high degree on the witness of the whole community, the family, the parish. It is people who help vocations to grow. It is priests who by their example attract young men and help them respond to Jesus' words: "Follow me". Those who have received a vocation must be able to give an example of how to follow.
In the parish today it is increasingly apparent that movements and associations are contributing in a special way to the growth of vocations and to vocation work. One of the movements or associations that is typical of the parish is that of the altar boys, the servers.
This fact is a great help to future vocations, as it was in the past. Many who first were altar boys, servers, later became priests. It is still useful today, but other ways must be tried, other methods, we could say: how to cooperate with the divine call, with the divine choice; how to fulfil, or help to fulfil these words of Jesus: the harvest is great, but the workers are few. This is true. The harvest is always great; the workers are always few, especially in some countries.
However, Jesus says: pray for this to the Lord of the harvest. For us all, therefore, without exception, there remains above all the pain of praying for vocations. If we feel involved in the redeeming work of Christ and the Church, we must always pray for vocations. The harvest is great.
Praised be Jesus Christ!
L'Osservatore Romano October 6, 1993