.- On Sunday, the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, Pope Benedict XVI asked families, communities and local parishes to help young men in discerning their vocation to the priesthood.
âDear friends, pray for the Church, every local community, that they are like a garden in which can germinate and ripen all the seeds of vocation that God sows in abundance,â said the Pope in his midday Regina Coeli address to pilgrims in St. Peter's Square April 29.
âIn particular, families are the first environment into which âbreathesâ the love of God, which gives inner strength even in the midst of the difficulties and trials of life.â
Earlier in the morning Pope Benedict XVI had ordained nine new priests for the Diocese of Rome in St Peterâs Basilica. He explained that those young men were, in fact, âno different from other young peopleâ apart from the fact that âthey had been deeply touched by the beauty of Godâs love, and could not help but respond with their whole lives.â
The Pope gave thanks to God for the ordinations, deeming them a sign of Godâs âprovident and faithful love for the Church.â He asked pilgrims to pray that âall young people be attentive to the voice of God that speaks inwardly to their heart and calls them to break away from everything to serve Him.â
âThe Lord is always callingâ he said, adding that âmany times we do not listenâ due to being âdistracted by many thingsâ or by being âafraid to hear the voice of the Lord because we think it might take away our freedom.â
The answer to these fears is the recognition that our freedom is âfully realizedâ in responding to love and, in particular, to the love of God.
The newly ordained priests, the Pope said, had met this love of God through âJesus Christ in the Gospels, the Eucharist and the Church communityâ where they too discovered that âthe life of every man is a love story.â
âLate have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you!â Pope Benedict continued, quoting the famous phrase of St. Augustineâs âConfessions.â
Recent statistics have shown the numbers of men applying for the priesthood around the world is on the rise. The Pope commended all those discerning such a vocation to the Virgin Mary, calling her âmother of every vocation in the Church.â