On Vocations

«The Lord always calls but often we do not hear him»

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 30, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave before and after praying the midday Regina Caeli on Sunday with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

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Dear brothers and sisters!

A short while ago there concluded in St. Peter’s Basilica the Eucharistic celebration in which I ordained nine new priests for the Diocese of Rome. Let us thank God for this gift, a sign of his faithful and provident love for the Church! Let us spiritually gather around these new priests and pray that they fully welcome the Sacrament that has conformed them to Jesus Christ Priest and Shepherd. And let us pray that all young people be attentive to God’s voice that speaks interiorly to them in their heart and calls them to detach themselves from all things to serve him. 

Today’s World Day of Prayer for Vocations is dedicated to this purpose. In fact, the Lord always calls but often we do not hear him. We are distracted by many things, by other more superficial voices; and then we fear hearing the Lord’s voice, because we think that it could take away our freedom. In reality, each of us is the fruit of love: certainly the love of our parents, but, more profoundly, the love of God. The Bible says: if even your mother does not want you, I want you, for I know you and love you (cf. 49:15). In the moment that I realize this, my life changes: it becomes a response to this love, greater than any other, and thus is my freedom fully realized.

The young men that I consecrated priests today are not different from other young men, but have been deeply touched by the beauty of God’s love, and have not been able to do less than answer with their whole lives. How did they encounter God’s love? They met it in Jesus Christ: in his Gospel, in the Eucharist and in the community of the Church. In the Church we discover that the life of each man is a story of love. Sacred Scripture shows us this clearly and the witness of the saints confirms it. St. Augustine’s expression, which in the “Confessions” he addresses to God, is exemplary: “Late have I loved you, O beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. You were within me, and I without… You were with me, and I was not with you… You called me, and your cry broke through my deafness” (X, 27.38).

Dear friends, let us pray for the Church, for every local community, that it may be like a watered garden in which all the seeds of vocation that God has abundantly sowed may germinate and grow. Let us pray that everywhere this garden may be cultivated, in the joy of everyone hearing himself called, in the variety of gifts; in particular that families be the first place in which God’s love “breathes,” that they be given interior strength even in the midst of the difficulties and trials of life. Those who experience God’s love in the family receive a priceless gift, which bears fruit in its time. May the Blessed Virgin Mary – model of free receptivity and obedience to the divine call, Mother of every vocation in the Church – obtain all of this for us.

[Following the Regina Caeli the Holy Father greeted those present in various languages. In Italian he said:]

Dear brothers and sisters!

I address a special greeting to the pilgrims gathered at St. Paul Outside the Walls, where Giuseppe Toniolo was beatified this morning. He lived between the 19th and 20th centuries, was a husband and father of seven children, a university professor and educator of young people, economist and sociologist, passionate servant of the communion of the Church. He realized the teachings of the encyclical “Rerum Novarum” of Pope Leo XIII; he promoted Catholic Action, the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, the Social Weeks of Italian Catholics and an institute of international law for peace. His message is one of great relevance, especially at this time: Blessed Giuseppe Toniolo indicated the way of the primacy of the human person and of solidarity. He wrote: “Beyond the same legitimate goods and interests of individual nations and states, there is an indissoluble element that leads all into unity, that is, the duty of human solidarity.”

[In English he said:]

I am happy to greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for this “Regina Caeli” prayer. Today’s Gospel highlights the figure of Christ the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for his flock. Today we also pray for vocations to the priesthood: may more young men hear Christ’s call to follow him more closely, and offer their lives to serve their brothers and sisters. God’s peace be with you all!

[Concluding in Italian, he said:]

I wish everyone a good Sunday and a good week. Thank you. Have a good Sunday.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]
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