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The courage to commit

Pope Francis has released his message for the 61st World Day of Prayer for Vocations, celebrated on Sunday, 21 April, urging Christians to welcome our shared vocation to sow the seeds of hope and peace in our world.

 “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)

This day, he reminds us is also 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. He mentions mothers and fathers who do not think first of themselves or follow fleeting fads of the moment, but shape their lives through relationships marked by love and graciousness, openness to the gift of life and commitment to their children and their growth in maturity; of all those who carry out their work in a spirit of cooperation with others, and those who strive in various ways to build a more just world, a more solidary economy, a more equitable social policy and a more humane society.

Pilgrims of hope and peace

In a word, he recalls all those men and women of good will who devote their lives to working for the common good.

“I think too of all those consecrated men and women who offer their lives to the Lord in the silence of prayer and in apostolic activity, sometimes on the fringes of society, tirelessly and creatively exercising their charism by serving those around them. And I think of all those who have accepted God’s call to the ordained priesthood, devoting themselves to the preaching of the Gospel, breaking open their own lives, together with the bread of the Eucharist, for their brothers and sisters, sowing seeds of hope and revealing to all the beauty of God’s kingdom”.

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”.

Praying for Vocations

This Day is dedicated in a particular way to imploring from the Father the gift of holy vocations for the building up of his Kingdom: “Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest” (Lk 10:2). Prayer – as we all know – is more about listening to God than about talking to him. The Lord speaks to our heart, and he wants to find it open, sincere and generous.

Gratitude, he said, should characterise World Vocations Day celebrations, as we recall the countless Christians who serve God in all walks of life.

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 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.”

The goal of every Christian vocation, added the Pope, is to become “men and women of hope,” bearing the Gospel message of hope and peace amid countless crises and “the baneful spectre of a third world war fought piecemeal.”

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.

The courage to commit

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 us be passionate about life, and commit ourselves to caring lovingly for those around us, in every place where we live. Let me say it again: “Have the courage to commit!”

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.

In conclusion, the Pope invited Christians to “rise up” and awaken from our indifference by embracing our vocation and letting Christ guide our steps: “Let us be passionate about life,” he said, “and commit ourselves to caring lovingly for those around us, in every place where we live.”

See  Message for the 61st World Day of Prayer for Vocations 2024 | Francis (vatican.va) 

[Rome, Saint John Lateran, 21 April 2024, Fourth Sunday of Easter].

Download as PDF 20240421-messaggio-61-gm-vocazioni

Also see Independent Catholic News Article for World Day of Prayer for Vocations 2024


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