Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles said this week that Catholics need to encourage vocations to the priesthood especially in their home life.
“In this Year of Faith, we need to refocus ourselves, especially in our families, on helping men to hear this beautiful and noble calling from Jesus...the family is always the 'first seminary,'” he wrote in his Nov. 16 column for The Tidings.
The archbishop's reflections were marked by the U.S. bishops' annual fall assembly last week and by his own pastoral letter of last month, “Witness to the New World of Faith.”
Since the family is the “domestic Church,” Archbishop Gomez said that is where children first learn about the Holy Family and Christ's commandment of love. Children learn from their parents the habit of going to Mass and confession regularly.
“Ordinary family life teaches them that their faith should make a difference in how they live.”
Archbishop Gomez encouraged his parishioners to use daily family prayer to pray for priests and seminarians, thus teaching their children the beauty and value of the ordained priesthood.
He also called for practical measures of appreciation for priests, suggesting inviting priests over to spend time with one's family and thanking them after Mass for the gift of the Eucharist.
In turn, he urged priests to be good examples who will encourage young men to follow in their footsteps.
“The greatest thing a priest can do is to simply live his vocation with enthusiasm. The example of happy priests, who have strong friendships with their brother priests and good relationships with their parishioners – this is immensely inspiring and attractive.”
Archbishop Gomez also reflected on the noise of modern culture, which he said can keep young people from hearing God's call to a religious or priestly vocation.
“We need to help our children develop habits of prayer and meditation. And this begins by simply getting them to be comfortable without distractions, so they can listen to the silent voice of God in their hearts.”
“So maybe in this Year of Faith, we can ask our children to make some time each day to turn off their smart phones and their electronic games and devices. To just be quiet with God.”
The archbishop concluded by promoting Eucharistic adoration and by looking forward to the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday.
“Through our Blessed Mother Mary, let’s remember to give thanks for our priests – who bring us the most beautiful thanksgiving of all, the holy Eucharist.”