Good Shepherd Sunday – what a marvelous name for the 4th Sunday of Easter! The Gospel reading on this Sunday is always taken from the Good Shepherd section of the Gospel according to Saint John chapter 10. This day, April 25, is also the 47th World Day of Prayer for Vocations.
The US Bishop’s Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations has chosen this day to launch their new website for vocations entitled “What Does God Want For Your Vocation?”. I hope you’ll check it out. It has good resources for discerning men and women, for teachers, parents, youth ministers and vocation directors, plus videos and other links. As a monastery actively promoting vocations to the priesthood and religious life we received a promotional poster to raise awareness of this new website. I hope to add a photo of that poster to this post this evening (God-willing and we don’t lose power due to the severe Kentucky thunderstorm we are having now!)
(Believe it or not, this is after one terrific thunderstorm!)
“Witness Awakens Vocations” is Pope Benedict’s meditation for this year’s message. I leave you with a few thoughts from this message.
Here I would like to recall the words of my venerable Predecessor John Paul II: “The very life of priests, their unconditional dedication to God’s flock, their witness of loving service to the Lord and to his Church – a witness marked by free acceptance of the Cross in the spirit of hope and Easter joy – their fraternal unity and zeal for the evangelization of the world are the first and most convincing factor in the growth of vocations” (Pastores Dabo Vobis, 41). It can be said that priestly vocations are born of contact with priests, as a sort of precious legacy handed down by word, example and a whole way of life.
The same can be said with regard to the consecrated life. The very life of men and women religious proclaims the love of Christ whenever they follow him in complete fidelity to the Gospel and joyfully make their own its criteria for judgement and conduct. They become “signs of contradiction” for the world, whose thinking is often inspired by materialism, self-centredness and individualism. By letting themselves be won over by God through self-renunciation, their fidelity and the power of their witness constantly awaken in the hearts of many young people the desire to follow Christ in their turn, in a way that is generous and complete. To imitate Christ, chaste, poor and obedient, and to identify with him: this is the ideal of the consecrated life, a witness to the absolute primacy of God in human life and history.