Sunday, May 30, 2010

Prayers for Vocations!

This evening my parish is having Eucharistic Adoration. Isn't that wonderful! Our pastor is very good at encouraging parishioners to come adore our Lord in this special way. Of course, with three small children, it is not very easy for us to attend, especially in the evening. It begins at 6pm and ends at 9pm, but hopefully one day we'll be able to go. 

The final hour of this special time is being dedicated to pray for priestly vocations. I think this is wonderful. It is so important for all of us to pray for priestly vocations. My pastor wrote in his bulletin letter today:
I realize with gratitude that I was helped by the prayers of many a generous soul, often unknown to me, who brought me to the moment of ordination.
It is impossible to know the value and merit of prayer but as nothing is impossible for God, it stands to reason that a prayer makes anything possible. Take the example of the town of Lu in ItalyThe little village of Lu, northern Italy, with only a few thousand inhabitants, is in a rural area 90 kilometers east of Turin. It would still be unknown to this day if, in the year 1881, the family mothers of Lu had not made a decision that had “serious consequences”. The deepest desire of many of these mothers was for one of their sons to become a priest or for a daughter to place her life completely in God’s service. Under the direction of their parish priest, Msgr. Alessandro Canora, they gathered every Tuesday for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, asking the Lord for vocations. They received Holy Communion on the first Sunday of every month with the same intention. After Mass, all the mothers prayed a particular prayer together imploring for vocations to the priesthood.

Through the trusting prayer of these mothers and the openness of the other parents, an atmosphere of deep joy and Christian piety developed in the families, making it much easier for the children to recognize their vocations. Did the Lord not say, “Many are called, but few are chosen” (Mt 22:14)? In other words, many are called, but only a few respond to that call. No one expected that God would hear the prayers of these mothers in such an astounding way. From the tiny village of Lu came 323 vocations!: 152 priests (diocesan and religious), and 171 nuns belonging to 41 different congregations.
Every ten years, the priests and sisters born in Lu come together from all around the world. Fr. Mario Meda, the long-serving parish priest of Lu, explained that this reunion is a true celebration, a feast of thanksgiving to God who has done such great things for Lu.

The prayer that the mothers of Lu prayed was short, simple, and deep:

“O God, grant that one of my sons may become a priest!

I myself want to live as a good Christian

and want to guide my children always to do what is right,

so that I may receive the grace, O God, to be allowed to give you a holy priest! Amen

From September 1 through 4, 1946, the majority of the 323 priests and religious met in their village of Lu for a reunion which attracted world-wide attention.

So it is not only our duty to pray for religious and priestly vocations, but indeed it bears bountiful fruit! Think of a priest you are thankful for. Someone encouraged him! Someone prayed for him! My imagination could run wild with what our prayers, as mothers, could do for priestly and religious vocations. And, indeed, at every morning and evening prayer, my husband and I pray for priestly and religious vocations. 

BUT! Praying for priestly and religious vocations is only one side of the coin. It is like trying to pull a cart with only one wheel instead of two. It is also important to pray for those called to marriage. It is from families that priestly and religious vocations come. Without good, faithful families, it is so much harder to get priestly and religious vocations. But with faithful families, the soil is fertile and the foundation laid should God call one of our children to be a priest or a religious. Also, prayer for parents and families would help them to be supportive of priestly and religious vocations. Today during Mass, our associate pastor told us that when he told his parents he thought he might be called to be a priest, they told him he was wrong, he was deluded and being a priest was a miserable life. He certainly needed prayers to embrace his vocation, and his parents do now support him, but imagine if people had been praying for his parents such that they might have supported him from the beginning.

I know that embracing a religious or priestly vocation can be challenging in our day and age, but it is no less challenging embracing a faithful call to marriage. How many moms need more support than they have? How many get told not to have any more children, to get on the pill, asked what they do all day as though children did not require much effort, told they are wasting their education if they stay home or told they are neglecting their children if they work, or countless other criticisms and difficulties? As I'm a mother, I'm not as knowledgeable of the difficulties facing faithful fathers today, but consider their responsibilities and temptations in today's world. It isn't easy. Every vocation is a challenge. Every vocation is a call. Every vocation is assaulted by the evil one. Every vocation needs prayers. 

Here is a little confession of mine. One of my big pet peeves is hearing someone say "vocations" but only mean priestly or religious vocations as though marriage were not a vocation. At every morning and evening prayer, after we pray for priestly and religious vocations, we pray for those called to marriage because they need it too! 

Priestly and religious vocations support, encourage and bring about marital vocations and marital vocations support, encourage and bring about priestly and religious vocations. They work hand in hand and are utterly dependent on each other. You cannot have one without the other. Each is essential to the other. So pray for vocations. Pray for priestly vocations. Pray for religious vocations. Pray for marital vocations. Pray for your vocation. We all need it!

1 comment:

  1. I have recently heard of a similar story, in a small Brazilian town!