VATICAN CITY, NOV. 11, 2010 ( Benedict XVI is underlining importance of the word of God in living our personal vocations: our lifelong call to holiness, and the specific call of each person.

These were some of the points highlighted by the Pope in his latest apostolic exhortation, "Verbum Domini," published today by the Vatican.

The word of God, he said, "calls each one of us personally, revealing that life itself is a vocation from God."

The Pontiff explained, "In other words, the more we grow in our personal relationship with the Lord Jesus, the more we realize that he is calling us to holiness in and through the definitive choices by which we respond to his love in our lives, taking up tasks and ministries which help to build up the Church."

He continued, "Here we touch upon one of the pivotal points in the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, which insisted that each member of the faithful is called to holiness according to his or her proper state in life."

The Holy Father addressed specific words to people in the various vocations and states in life.

Ordained ministers

Speaking of ordained ministers, he noted that "bishops, priests, and deacons can hardly think that they are living out their vocation and mission apart from a decisive and renewed commitment to sanctification, one of whose pillars is contact with God's word."

The priest "needs to approach the word with a docile and prayerful heart so that it may deeply penetrate his thoughts and feelings and bring about a new outlook in him," Benedict XVI stated.

Speaking to permanent deacons, he recommended that they "nourish their lives by the faith-filled reading of sacred Scripture, accompanied by study and prayer."

The Pope next noted that "those aspiring to the ministerial priesthood are called to a profound personal relationship with God's word, particularly in lectio divina, so that this relationship will in turn nurture their vocation."

He added that "it is in the light and strength of God's word that one's specific vocation can be discerned and appreciated, loved and followed, and one's proper mission carried out, by nourishing the heart with thoughts of God, so that faith, as our response to the word, may become a new criterion for judging and evaluating persons and things, events and issues."

"Great care should be taken to ensure that seminarians always cultivate this reciprocity between study and prayer in their lives," the Pontiff said.

Consecrated life

Addressing some words to those in the consecrated life, the Holy Father noted that "both old and new expressions of special consecration are called to be genuine schools of the spiritual life, where the Scriptures can be read according to the Holy Spirit in the Church, for the benefit of the entire People of God."

He affirmed that contemplative men and women in particular, "by their lives of prayer, attentive hearing and meditation on God's Word, remind us that man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God."

Benedict XVI spoke next of the lay faithful, "who live out their specific vocation to holiness by a life in the Spirit expressed in a particular way by their engagement in temporal matters and by their participation in earthly activities."

He appealed to dioceses to provide opportunities for the laity "to be trained to discern God's will through a familiarity with his word, read and studied in the Church under the guidance of her legitimate pastors."

Marriage and family

The Pope specifically underlined the role of the word of God in marriage and the family.

"It must never be forgotten that the word of God is at the very origin of marriage and that Jesus himself made marriage one of the institutions of his Kingdom, elevating to the dignity of a sacrament what was inscribed in human nature from the beginning," he said.

The Pontiff continued: "Fidelity to God's word leads us to point out that nowadays this institution is in many ways under attack from the current mentality.

"In the face of widespread confusion in the sphere of affectivity, and the rise of ways of thinking which trivialize the human body and sexual differentiation, the word of God reaffirms the original goodness of the human being, created as man and woman and called to a love which is faithful, reciprocal and fruitful."

He affirmed that "part of authentic parenthood is to pass on and bear witness to the meaning of life in Christ: through their fidelity and the unity of family life, spouses are the first to proclaim God's word to their children."

The Holy Father urged, "The ecclesial community must support and assist them in fostering family prayer, attentive hearing of the word of God, and knowledge of the Bible."

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