VATICAN CITY, MAY 7, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of Benedict XVI’s address today before praying the midday Regina Caeli with tens of thousands of people gathered in St. Peter’s Square.
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Dear Brothers and Sisters:
On this Fourth Sunday of Easter, Good Shepherd Sunday, in which the World Day of Prayer for Vocations is observed, I have had the joy of ordaining in St. Peter’s Basilica 15 new priests of the Diocese of Rome.
Together with them, I think of all those that, in all parts of the world receive priestly ordination at the same time. In thanking the Lord for the gift of these new priests at the service of the Church, we put them in Mary’s hands, while invoking her intercession so that the number will grow of those who accept Christ’s invitation to follow him on the path of the priesthood and consecrated life.
This year, the theme of the World Day of Prayer for Vocations is “Vocation in the Mystery of the Church.” In the message I have addressed to the entire ecclesial community for this occasion, I recalled the experience of Jesus’ first disciples that, after meeting him on the lake and in the villages of Galilee, were captivated by his attractiveness and love.
The Christian vocation always implies renewing this personal friendship with Jesus Christ, which gives meaning to one’s life and makes it available for the Kingdom of God.
The Church lives from this friendship, nourished by the word and the sacraments, holy realities entrusted in a particular way to the ministry of bishops, priests and deacons, consecrated by the sacrament of holy orders. For this reason, as I underlined in the same message, the mission of the priest is irreplaceable and, although in some regions there is a lack of clergy, there is no doubt that God continues to call adolescents, youths and adults to leave all to dedicate themselves to the preaching of the Gospel and the pastoral ministry.
Another special way of following is the vocation to the consecrated life, which is expressed in a poor, chaste and obedient life, totally dedicated to God, in contemplation and prayer, placed at the service of brothers, especially the little ones and the poor.
However, let us not forget that Christian marriage is a vocation to holiness in the full sense of the word, and that the example of holy parents is the first favorable condition for the flowering of priestly and religious vocations.
Dear brothers and sisters, let us invoke the intercession of Mary, mother of the Church, for the priests, and men and women religious; let us pray, moreover, so that the seeds of the vocation that God sows in the hearts of the faithful will mature and bear fruits of holiness in the Church and the world.
[Translation by ZENIT]
[After praying the Regina Caeli the Holy Father greeted pilgrims in several languages. In English, he said:]
I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors here today, including the friends and guests of the Pontifical Swiss Guard, celebrating its 500th anniversary, and a delegation of the Young Presidents Organization of Canada.
Today’s Gospel speaks of our Lord as the good shepherd, reminding us that we must attune our minds to the call of his voice and follow the way of his path. May this Easter season deepen our desire to walk in his truth and love. Upon each of you present, I invoke God’s blessings of peace and wisdom.
© Copyright 2006 — Libreria Editrice Vaticana [adapted]