THIS SUNDAY MARKS the 55th World Day of Prayer for Vocations. The purpose of the World Day of Prayer for Vocations is to publicly fulfill the Lord’s instruction to “Pray the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into his harvest.”
While appreciating all vocations, the Church concentrates its attention this day on vocations to ordained ministries: to the religious life in all its forms, male and female, contemplative and apostolic, to societies of apostolic life, to secular institutes and to the missionary life.
The prayer that Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio composed for vocations concentrates on that very line of Scripture, and reminds us that we must pray for laborers because there will never be enough workers for the Gospel. The scarcity of vocations at any particular time should be a reason for us to continue working for more vocations to the priesthood and religious life, as we continue to do so in our own diocesan celebration of the Year of Vocations.
Highlighting the importance and magnitude of this year, Bishop DiMarzio composed a pastoral letter on vocations which can be found in this week’s issue of The Tablet (see insert). In this year’s message, our Holy Father, Pope Francis, focuses on three important aspects of the call: listening, discerning and living.
It’s very difficult to hear the Lord’s call because of the very frenetic lives that we live today. The busyness of our lives drowns out the Lord’s call and we fail to remain attentive to His invitation. Therefore, the Holy Father urges us to learn to listen again by recollecting ourselves and highlighting a greater need for silence in daily life.
We need to discern properly and not alone. Discernment is the “process by which a person makes fundamental choices, in dialogue with the Lord and listening to the voice of the Spirit, starting with the choice of one’s state in life” (Synod of Bishops, XV Ordinary General Assembly, Youth, Faith and Vocational Discernment, II, 2).
We need someone to speak with and accompany us along this journey. In discernment, there will be times where we are unsure or unaware of the movements of God in our life and don’t know how to proceed without clear direction. Therefore, having a spiritual director can assist us in highlighting the things we can’t see ourselves.
The time is NOW! “The Christian mission is now! Each one of us is called – whether to the lay life in marriage, to the priestly life in the ordained ministry, or to a life of special consecration – in order to become a witness of the Lord, here and now” (Pope Francis’ message for the 55th World Day of Prayer for Vocations).
Often, when I speak with young people about vocations, there is always some form of fear that encourages a discerner not to make any serious commitments and continue to wait for a “clearer” sign from God. We can’t wait too long, because we need to make decisions in life and see what fruits come from taking the next step in their discernment. We can’t allow ourselves to be afraid of discernment fears, because then we aren’t living!
As always, the Vocation Office offers many different discernment programs for young men who might be open to the idea of priesthood. To find out more information about these programs, visit the diocesan Vocation Office website at www.brooklynpriests.org.
Father Suckiel is the vocation director for the Diocese of Brooklyn.