In a message released on the occasion of the 41st World Day of Prayer for Vocations, Pope John Paul II said that holiness of those who have been called is key in attracting new vocations.
World Day of Prayer for Vocations is traditionally held on the fourth Sunday of Easter.
In the message the Pope expresses his joy that in “many local Churches prayer groups for vocations are formed.”
“Yes! The vocation to the exclusive service to Christ in the Church is an invaluable gift of divine benevolence, a gift that must be asked for with insistence and confident humility,” he exclaims.
John Paul II emphasizes “the special value of prayer united to sacrifice and suffering.” “So many sick people in every part of the world unite their sorrows to the cross of Jesus in order to implore holy vocations! They also accompany me spiritually in the petrine ministry that God entrusted to me and they make an inestimable contribution to the cause of the Gospel, although it is often never seen,” he adds.
The Pontiff explains that “at the center of all prayer initiatives is the Eucharist. The sacrament of the Altar has a decisive value for the birth of vocations and for their perseverance, because those who are called can draw the strength to dedicate themselves completely to the proclaiming the Gospel from the redeeming sacrifice of Christ.”
“It is good,” he adds, “that the celebration of the Eucharist is united to adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.”
The Holy Father asks that “all Christian communities be ‘authentic schools of prayer,’ where they pray for progress in the vast field of apostolic work. It is then necessary that the Church accompany those who God has called with constant spiritual care” so that they “may be faithful to their vocation and reach the highest possible level of evangelical perfection.”
“The strength of the testimony, which is capable of attracting other people and encouraging them to entrust their lives to Christ, depends on the holiness of those who are called. This is the way to contrast the drop in vocations to consecrated life which threatens the existence of many apostolic works especially in mission countries.”
John Paul II concludes his message with a prayer in which he asks God through the intercession of Mary that vocations to the Church may never be lacking and that He help those who have received a call to follow through so that they “may respond with joy to the wonderful mission that you entrust them with for the good of the people and all of mankind.”