Every Sunday of the year is Vocations Sunday when the scriptures and a good homily help baptised people to appreciate the beauty of their calling to live vocationally, that is, to live in lively relationship with Jesus Christ. This weekend’s Good Shepherd Sunday is highlighted as a time to focus specifically on one vocational calling that is all too often overlooked by those who are considering life choices for them selves and their family and friends, that is, the possibility of vocation to live the adventure that is diocesan priesthood.
A starting point for a life of vocation is, as Cardinal Newman prayed, a unique call that God gives to me personally. I am created by God for some specific service.
The heart of this life is personal intimacy with Jesus. It is this ultimate relationship that gives meaning to all human life. In this personal and lived relationship I am freed from all superficial compulsions. I am able to see beyond worldly successes and rewards.
In seeking to live in response to God’s Vocational call to me I experience “life, and have it in abundance.” John 10:10
I will give you shepherds
Today there is a particular focus for our vocational reflection. We know that human people cannot live without the Eucharist, and the Eucharist cannot be a reality among us without priests. Today we pray especially for vocations to the priesthood.
Thirty+ years ago when I was considering a vocation to priesthood, the family, parish and school environments saw priesthood as a worthwhile vocation worthy of an entire human life. I am not sure that this environment is still present in our families, parishes and schools. However (as we are reminded this week preparing to mark Anzac Day) people today do have a deep and growing sense of our real heroes being those who are prepared to give their lives in the cause of freedom and peace. This is the life of a priest, a life given that people may know the peace and freedom of God both here on earth and eternally.
When did you last encourage a young (or not so young) man, to consider giving his life to God as a priest?
Have you encouraged your sons, grandsons, godsons or nephews to consider priesthood? Have you spoken to single men whom you see at Mass each Sunday suggesting that God might be calling them to priesthood? Are you aware that many of those who will be ordained priests in the next twenty years are currently children and teenagers who have little to do with the church today? The life-giving transformation of adult experience of Christ is ahead of them.
When your children and grandchildren and workmates hear you speaking about priests, do they hear you valuing the priestly ministry that God carries out through these men (who remain his imperfect but willing servants)?
building environments of faith
Today, on this vocations Sunday, please pray for all priests; that they may be faithful servants of Christ the priest. That they may be loving shepherds.
Let us also pray for those who are currently discerning a call to priesthood in the seminary. We pray especially for the seminarians of our own Christchurch diocese. We also remember those of our diocese who are in seminaries of religious communities around the world.
Let us also pray that our own families, schools, parishes and our diocese will be environments of encouragement and support for any parishioner who is being called by God to serve as a priest.
You might know of a young(ish) man whom you suspect might have a vocation to serve God as a diocesan priest. Don’t worry too much about whether or not he is regular at Mass these days – the Holy Spirit can work with that! But perhaps you can help him to discern simply by sending him a link to this post.
If you are a young(ish) man and sense that God might be nudging you to consider life as a diocesan priest I invite you to email me with any questions you have.
I look forward to hearing from you.
Fr. John O’Connor firstname.lastname@example.org