By Sr Elaine Penrice FSP
Sunday the 12th of May marks the 56th World Day of Prayer for Vocations in the Catholic Church. Most Christian denominations will set aside at least one day in their year to pray for vocations, particularly because of the Lord’s invitation to “pray the Lord of the harvest to send labourers into his harvest” (Mt 9:38, Lk 10:2).
In my work of promoting religious life in the National Office for Vocation, I am privileged to witness the ebb and flow of religious, working out how best to respond to the signs of the times. I also hear from people tentatively negotiating the cacophony of voices calling out for their attention in today’s sensory focused world.
Vocation discernment today is a lot about self-discovery, leading to a kind of spiritual exodus… it is only when a person can stop and recognise their self as an autonomous being, gifted and in relationship with God, that they can respond to that call to go out to the beautiful land that the Lord will show them, just as it was for our father Abraham. As religious, we are called through the shifting sands of the desert, to bear witness to our one true anchor and sure ground: Jesus, the Lord.
So, for the world day of prayer for vocation this year, how would I invite you to pray?
Of course, we need to do as Jesus says, “pray the Lord of the harvest to send labourers into his harvest.” It is good, that if we feel passionately about our own choice, we would want others to help us, to join us, to do even more than we could ourselves. It is indeed right that we should plead with the Lord for these things, and at the end say as Jesus did, “yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Lk 22:42).
I think however, we also need to be living witnesses to prayer – that prayer which is friendship with God. When we set our minds, our undivided hearts and our wills to the work of the Father, in union with Jesus and the Holy Spirit, we will cease to count new members, and begin to generously lend our ears to those who cannot hear the voice of the Lord. We must busy ourselves with the Lord’s work and witness to the communion which is the Kingdom of God.
If there is one overwhelming voice that came from the Synod on Youth, Faith and Vocational Discernment, it is that young people today (and I would suggest not only young people), need help in hearing the voice of the Lord, understanding it, and incarnating it into their lives. In the final document, as well as the exhortation Christus Vivit, there is an invitation to accompany our brothers and sisters as they journey on the Christian path. Let this be your offering, as “a living sacrifice that is holy and pleasing to God” (Rm 12:1), to be a conduit for the voice of the Lord, who lovingly calls everybody into his friendship. Open your homes, your lives and your hearts to help them discern the ways of the Lord in their lives.
In this way, your prayer will not just be a plea for companions on your journey, but it will be a living prayer which will open peoples minds and hearts and wills to God, and that will inevitably produce many people fired up and in love with God to the point of consecrating their very lives to Him… in priesthood and consecrated religious life.
You can download free resources for Vocations Sunday from our website: http://www.ukvocation.org/?page_id=928
The Pope’s message for Vocations Sunday:
Sr Elaine Penrice FSP is Religious Life Promoter at the National Office for Vocation