Today, if you were not aware, is World Vocation Day. This is a day dedicated primarily to prayer for vocations to the priest and religious life. It was actually originally instituted by Pope Paul VI in the 1960s and corresponded to the 4th Sunday of Easter, which is known as “Good Shepherd Sunday.”
Pope Benedict XVI once instructed the American bishops about the discernment of a call to the priesthood in this way: “The discernment of a vocation is above all the fruit of an intimate dialogue between the Lord and his disciples. Young people, if they know how to pray, can be trusted to know what to do with God’s call.”
This is a big “assumption.”—Young people, IF THEY KNOW HOW TO PRAY, can be trusted to know what to do with God’s call. But one massive question is whether or not the adults who are teaching them know how to pray. For over two decades Our Lady of Medjugorje has been begging the world almost every single day to return to prayer and fasting for themselves and for the world. That is why I have focused my last several conferences particularly on methods of prayer. I am trying to teach you how to fish instead of giving you a fish. I am convinced that lack of prayer is at the foundation of many of the world’s problems, and at the root of this lack of prayer is a lack of faith and a restless desire to distract ourselves with the passing things of this world.
It is in prayer that we form an intimate contact with a power far greater than ourselves, with the living God himself. It is what our heart yearns for. And yet time and time again, we fail to make time and space for this massive priority in our lives.
It’s really quite simple when we think about it. Either God is real or he is not. Either he is who he says he is or he is not. If he isn’t, then walk out that church door and never come back. If he is, then make prayer, sacraments, and works of love and kindness your ABSOLUTE PRIORITY.
Doesn’t scripture say, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these other things will be given to you besides.” And yet how will we learn this if there are not men and women who testify to it with their lives? Why do you think the world ridicules men and women who profess celibacy and spend hours of day in prayer? The world hates us. And that is because we stand to represent that this world is dust and it will finally surrender to another world far greater, more glorious and more beautiful. We are a constant reminder of that to a world gone mad. Don’t you think that the world would prefer that we were destroyed so that it are not reminded how empty and lost it really is?
Are you someone who might be hearing such a call to be such an example? “My sheep hear my voice—they know me, and they follow me.” Do you know someone who might have this call? Because it most certainly can be drowned out by distractions, by noise, by sin and by people who fail to encourage this call when they see it—especially parents. You parents, make no mistake—the failure to make sure that your child knows something about prayer, or the failure to nurture a call to the priesthood and religious life when you see some evidence of it, is called SCANDAL: it is one of the greatest sins possible, and unless you repent of it, hell will be your eternal destination. And I mean that most sincerely.
Today Pope Francis ordained 10 men to the priesthood. They are ordained to teach, to sanctify, and to govern. Why? Because Christ himself established twelve apostles with Peter as their chief shepherd so that God would be with his people through the visible sacrament of the church for all time until he comes again. Why? To be a visible sign of God’s love for his people. To seek out and save what was lost. To reconcile the whole world to God and destroy sin and death forever. This is not only the call of a priest, this is your calling as well—the call of all the baptized. How well are we doing at it?
If you are not sure or if you know that you are not doing well – WHEN I AM NOT DOING WELL, I KNOW THAT IT IS BECAUSE I AM NOT PRAYING. THIS IS BEYOND MY POWER….
What is my message? I suppose it’s quite simple—pray. But what is prayer? It is talking to God. But it doesn’t mean just saying, “hey God, help me or so and so,” from time to time or simply saying the our father or hail mary every night. That is fine, but true prayer takes TIME. It is the building of a relationship between us and God. It is asking him what his will is in our life and then begging for the strength to carry it out. It is breaking out scripture and meditating on it. It is engaging in the struggle to rout out those things in our life that are ugly to him so that those empty spots can be filled with the Spirit of God. THAT’S true prayer. We are like men and women on a first date when we pray sometimes, I think, especially when we do not pray very often. We find that we are awkward and that we do not know this person whom we are trying to talk to, and because it is awkward, we do not continue dating. But the good stuff is ahead! Falling in love is AHEAD of you! But in this case, we are talking about falling in love with the living God….
Today is world vocation today. I just want all of us to remember these two things. It is everyone’s vocation to PRAY, and everyone’s vocation to ultimately go to HEAVEN and to take as many people with us as we possibly can.
The passage that we hear in the second reading is a part of St. John’s vision of heaven. I would like to repeat it:
“These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress;
they have washed their robes
and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
“For this reason they stand before God’s throne
and worship him day and night in his temple.
The one who sits on the throne will shelter them.
They will not hunger or thirst anymore,
nor will the sun or any heat strike them.
For the Lamb who is in the center of the throne
will shepherd them
and lead them to springs of life-giving water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
You know, there are many devotions in the Catholic church—divine mercy, the sacred heart, the immaculate heart, the miraculous medal, thousands of saints….
But here is a devotion that we may have forgotten. THE DEVOTION TO HEAVEN. What would it do to our lives if we could wake up every morning saying to ourselves, “I need to get to heaven today. With that in mind, Lord, what must I do?” This is the long view that can help many of our petty struggles and even our heavy crosses not seem so heavy after all. This is the vision that can make prayer not only necessary, but even sweet and consoling. So today let us dedicate ourselves again to getting to heaven, and commit ourselves to pray for the men and women who dedicate their lives to helping us find our way back HOME.