Holy Father urges prayers for vocations

.- At noon today, Pope Benedict prayed the Regina Coeli with the thousands gathered in St. Peter's Square. On this, the 47th World Day of Prayer for Vocations, the Holy Father reminded the faithful of the ever-present importance of praying for those who may be called to consecrate their lives to God.

“The first kind of testimony that encourages vocations is prayer,” said the Holy Father. He recalled St. Monica, the mother of St. Augustine, who, “supplicating God with humility and persistence, obtained the grace of seeing her son convert to Christianity."  St. Augustine acknowledged this, writing, “without doubts, I believe and affirm that, through her prayers, God has granted me the intention of not putting first, not wanting, not thinking, and not loving anything that doesn’t reach the truth.”

The Holy Father invited parents “to pray that the hearts of their children be open to hearing the Good Shepherd and that each small seed of a vocation may come to be a leafy tree, full of fruits for the good of the Church and for all humanity.”

“How can we listen to the voice of the Lord and recognize it?” asked the Holy Father. “The voice of Christ resounds in the teachings of the Apostles and their successors, which call us to communion with God and to the fullness of life. Only the Good Shepherd cares for his flock and defends it from evil with intense tenderness. And only in him can the faithful place their complete confidence.”

The Pontiff also exhorted all ordained ministers to feel committed to “an ever stronger and more incisive Gospel testimony in today’s world. Remember that priests continue the work of redemption on earth,” he said. “They are available to listen and to pardon. They form your community in the Christian faith. They cultivate the priestly brotherhood with care,” said Pope Benedict.

“They take their example from wise and zealous pastors, as did St. Gregory of Nazianzus, who wrote to his friend and brother bishop, St. Basil: ‘Teach your love for the sheep, your concern and your understanding, your surveillance ... your severity in sweetness, serenity and gentleness in the activity… fighting in defense of the flock’,” concluded the Holy Father.

After praying the Regina Coeli, the Pope greeted those gathered in no less than eight languages before imparting his apostolic blessing.

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