On the 47th World Day of Prayer for Vocations

“The First Form of Witness That Awakens Vocations Is Prayer”

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 25, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the public address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Regina Caeli with the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

On this Fourth Sunday of Easter, which is called “Good Shepherd Sunday,” the World Day of Prayer for Vocations is celebrated, which has as its theme this year “Witness Awakens Vocations,” a theme that is “closely linked to the life and mission of priests and consecrated persons” (“Message for the 47th World Day of Prayer for Vocations, April 25, 2010”). The first form of witness that awakens vocations is prayer (cf. ibid.), as is shown to us by the example of St. Monica, who, supplicating God with humility and persistence, obtained the grace of seeing her son Augustine become Christian. St. Augustine wrote: “Without a doubt I believe and affirm that through her prayers, God granted me the intention not to propose, not to want, not to think, not to love anything else but the attainment of truth” (“De Ordine,” II 20, 52; CCL 29, 136).

Therefore, I invite parents to pray that the heart of their children open to listening to the Good Shepherd, and “each tiny seed of a vocation … grow into a mature tree, bearing much good fruit for the Church and for all humanity” (“Message”). How can we hear the voice of the Lord and recognize it? In the preaching of the Apostles and their successors: In it there resounds the voice of Christ, who calls us to communion with God and to the fullness of life, as we read today in St. John’s Gospel: “My sheep hear my voice and they follow me. I give them eternal life and they will never be lost and no one will take them out of my hand” (John 10:27-28). Only the Good Shepherd leads his flock with immense tenderness and defends them from evil, and only in him can the faithful place absolute confidence.

<p>On this special day of prayer for vocations I especially exhort the ordained ministers, so that, inspired by the Year for Priests, they are moved to “a stronger and more incisive witness to the Gospel in today’s world” (“Letter Proclaiming a Year for Priests”). May they remember that the priest “continues the work of the Redemption on earth;” may they know how to “stop frequently before the tabernacle;” may they remain “completely faithful to [their] own vocation and mission through the practice of an austere asceticism;” may they be available to listen and forgive; may they form the people entrusted to them in a Christian way; may they cultivate with care “priestly fraternity” (cf. ibid.). May they take wise and zealous pastors as an example, as St. Gregory Nazianzus, who wrote to his dear friend and bishop, St. Basil: “Teach us your love for your sheep, your solicitude and your capacity for understanding, your vigilance … the austerity in sweetness, the serenity and meekness in activity … the combats in defense of the flock, the victories … achieved in Christ” (Oratio IX, 5, PG 35, 825ab).

I thank everyone who is present and those who with prayer and affection support my ministry as the Successor of Peter, and upon everyone I invoke the heavenly protection of the Virgin Mary, to whom we now turn in prayer.

[After the recitation of the Regina Caeli, the Holy Father greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In Italian he said:]

This morning, in Rome and in Barcelona respectively, two priests were beatified: Angelo Paoli, a Carmelite, and José Tous y Soler, a Capuchin. I will speak about the latter shortly. In regard to Blessed Angelo Paoli, who was from Lunigiana and lived between the 17th and 18th centuries, I would like to recall that he was an apostle of charity in Rome and was called “Father of the Poor.” He dedicated himself especially to the sick of the Hospital of St. John, also caring for the convalescents. His apostolate drew strength from the Eucharist and from devotion to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, and from an intense life of penance as well. In the Year for Priests I gladly propose his example to all priests, in a special way to those who belong to religious institutes of the active life.

[In English he said:]

I am happy to greet all the English-speaking visitors present for today’s Regina Caeli prayer. This Sunday the Church celebrates the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. As we rejoice in the new life that the Risen Lord has won for us, let us ask him to inspire many young people to center their hearts on the things of Heaven (cf. Col 3:1-2) and to offer themselves joyfully in the service of Christ our Good Shepherd in the priesthood and religious life. Confidently entrusting this petition to Mary, Queen of Heaven, I invoke upon you God’s abundant blessings of peace and joy!

[The Pontiff concluded in Italian:]

I direct a special greeting to the Meter Association, which, for the past 14 years, has promoted the national day for children who are victims of violence, exploitation and indifference. On this occasion I would like above all to thank and encourage those who dedicate themselves to prevention and education, especially parents, teachers, many priests, sisters, catechists and leaders who work with the young people in the parishes, schools and associations. I greet the faithful from Brescia, Cassana near Ferrara, from parishes in Umbria and Toronto, Canada; the young people of the parishes in Valposchiavo, in Switzerland, and those from Francavilla al Mare; and the group of engaged couples from Altamura. I wish everyone a good Sunday.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

© Copyright 2010 — Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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