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Pilgrims of hope, builders of peace

“Our life finds fulfilment when we discover who we are, what our gifts are, where we can make them bear fruit, and what path we can follow in order to become signs and instruments of love, generous acceptance, beauty, and peace, wherever we find ourselves.”

Pope Francis offered that summary of our Christian vocation in his message for the 61st World Day of Prayer for Vocations, which the Church marks on April 21, 2024.

Christians are called to welcome our God-given vocation to serve Him in the world, whether it be through the consecrated life, the priesthood, marriage, or as a single person.

Gratitude, Pope Francis said, should characterise World Vocations Day celebrations, as we recall the countless Christians who serve God in all walks of life. He especially invited young people to make room for God, so that they might find happiness in His call, which always respects our freedom.

God’s people are guided by the Holy Spirit and form the Body of Christ as members of a great family and many parts of a whole, he said.

“In this sense,” he added, “the World Day of Prayer for Vocations has a synodal character: amid the variety of our charisms, we are called to listen to one another and to journey together in order to acknowledge them and to discern where the Spirit is leading us for the benefit of all.”

Pilgrims of hope, builders of peace

Turning to the heart of his message, Pope Francis recalled that Christian pilgrimage means keeping our eyes, minds, and hearts fixed on our goal—which is Christ—and to set out every day anew.

“Our pilgrimage on this earth is far from a pointless journey or aimless wandering,” he said. “On the contrary, each day, by responding to God’s call, we try to take every step needed to advance towards a new world where people can live in peace, justice, and love.”

Christ’s Resurrection, noted Pope Francis, is the force that drives our Christian hope and allows us to face the challenges our world present us.

This Day, then, is always a good occasion to recall with gratitude to the Lord the faithful, persevering and frequently hidden efforts of all those who have responded to a call that embraces their entire existence.

To young people, and especially those who feel distant or uncertain about the Church, I want to say this: Let Jesus draw you to himself; bring him your important questions by reading the Gospels; let him challenge you by his presence, which always provokes in us a healthy crisis. More than anyone else, Jesus respects our freedom. He does not impose, but proposes. Make room for him and you will find the way to happiness by following him. And, should he ask it of you, by giving yourself completely to him.

What does it mean to be pilgrims?

Those who go on pilgrimage seek above all to keep their eyes fixed on the goal, to keep it always in their mind and heart. To achieve that goal, however, they need to concentrate on every step, which means:

  • travelling light, getting rid of what weighs them down,
  • carrying only the essentials and striving daily to set aside all weariness, fear, uncertainty and hesitation.
  • setting out each day, beginning ever anew, rediscovering the enthusiasm and strength needed to pursue the various stages of a journey that, however tiring and difficult, always opens before our eyes new horizons and previously unknown vistas.

This is the ultimate meaning of our Christian pilgrimage: we set out on a journey to discover the love of God and at the same time to discover ourselves, thanks to an interior journey nourished by our relationships with others.

We are pilgrims because we have been called: called to love God and to love one another. Our pilgrimage on this earth is far from a pointless journey or aimless wandering; on the contrary, each day, by responding to God’s call, we try to take every step needed to advance towards a new world where people can live in peace, justice and love. We are pilgrims of hope because we are pressing forward towards a better future, committed at every step to bringing it about.

This is, in the end, the goal of every vocation: to become men and women of hope. As individuals and as communities, amid the variety of charisms and ministries, all of us are called to embody and communicate the Gospel message of hope in a world marked by epochal challenges.

May no one feel excluded from this calling

Let us have the courage to commit! Each of us in our own small way, in our particular state of life, can, with the help of the Spirit, be a sower of seeds of hope and peace.

In this light, I would say once more, as I did at World Youth Day in Lisbon:

“Rise up!” Let us awaken from sleep, let us leave indifference behind, let us open the doors of the prison in which we so often enclose ourselves, so that each of us can discover his or her proper vocation in the Church and in the world, and become a pilgrim of hope and a builder of peace! …  Let me say it again: “Have the courage to commit!” 

Let us rise up, then, and set out as pilgrims of hope, so that, as Mary was for Elizabeth, we too can be messengers of joy, sources of new life and artisans of fraternity and peace.

See the full text of the Message by Pope Francis for the World Day of Vocations  Called to sow seeds of hope and to build peace

See also: Ven. Nano Nagle – A Life lived on the Razor’s Edge


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