VATICAN CITY, FEB. 1, 2011 (Zenit.org).- One sign of a thriving Church is an abundance of vocations to the religious life, says Benedict XVI.
The Pope said this in a message sent to the 2nd Latin American Continental Congress on Vocations, promoted by the Department for Vocations and Ministries of the Latin American Bishops’ Council, which is under way in Cartago, Costa Rica, through Saturday. The Vatican press office published the letter today.
In his noted, the Pontiff stated that “the great task of evangelization requires an ever greater number of persons that respond generously to God’s call and give themselves for life to the cause of the Gospel,” and that “together with the strengthening of Christian life in general, a more incisive missionary action bears as a valuable fruit the increase of vocations of special consecration.”
“In some way,” he asserted, “the abundance of vocations is an eloquent sign of ecclesial vitality, as well as of the intense living of the faith on the part of all the members of the People of God.”
The Holy Father noted that when the work of promoting vocations is undertaken, results follow: “Experience teaches us that, wherever there is good planning and a constant practice of the vocational pastoral, vocations are not lacking. God is generous, and the vocational pastoral endeavor should be equally generous in all the particular Churches.”
Benedict XVI underlined, however, the need to pay special attention to the spiritual life when promoting vocations, as a “vocation is not the fruit of any human project or of a clever organizational strategy. In its deepest reality, it is a gift of God, a mysterious and ineffable initiative of the Lord, who enters the life of a person cultivating it with the beauty of his love, and arousing, consequently, a total and definitive self-giving to that divine love.”
“The primacy of the life of the spirit must always be kept present as the basis of all pastoral programming,” he continued. “It is necessary to offer the young generations the possibility to open their hearts to a greater reality: to Christ, the only one who can give meaning and fullness to their lives.
“We must overcome our self-sufficiency and go to the Lord with humility, begging him to continue calling many.”
“But at the same time,” the Holy Father affirmed, “the strengthening of our spiritual life will lead us to ever greater identification with the will of God, and to offer a wider and more transparent witness of faith, hope and charity.”
The Pope said that the first task of any effort to promote vocations is the “personal and community witness of a life of friendship and intimacy with Christ.”
“The faithful and joyful testimony of one’s vocation has been and is a privileged means to awaken in young people the desire to follow in Christ’s steps,” he said. “And, together with this, the courage to propose to them with delicacy and respect the possibility that God will also call them.”
“Often, a divine vocation gains ground through a human word, or thanks to an environment in which there is a lively faith,” he added.
“Today, as ever, young people are sensitive to the call of Christ, who invites them to follow him,” he concluded. “The world needs God, and that is why it will always need persons who live for him, and who proclaim him to others.”
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Full text: www.zenit.org/article-31633?l=english