.- Prior to leaving the town of Altötting for his birthplace of Marktl am Inn, Pope Benedict XVI prayed Vespers with the seminarians, priests, and religious of Bavaria and those who support their vocations. The Pontiff led the evening prayer service from the Basilica of Saint Anne.
Following the initial prayers of the service, and the Psalms beautifully intoned by a choir, the Pope reflected on the Vocation to the priesthood and religious life.
“We have gathered here to consider our vocation to serve Jesus Christ…under the watchful gaze of Saint Anne, in whose home the greatest vocation in the history of salvation developed.” The Pope noted that although none are granted the grace of receiving their vocation from an angel, as Mary did, “the Lord has a plan for each of us.”
The Pope recalled the line from Matthew’s Gospel, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest" (Mt 9:37-38). He encouraged those present and prayed for more to answer the call to labor in the field of the Lord.
“The Lord,” he said, “is also knocking on the doors of our own heart. Lord do you want me? Is it not perhaps too big for me? Am I too small for this? ‘Do not be afraid’, the Angel said to Mary. ‘Do not fear: I have called you by name,’ God says through the Prophet Isaiah (43:1) to us - to each of us.”
And, “if we say ‘yes’ to the Lord’s call,” the Pope told the seminarians, priests, and religious, no matter where we go or what we do, we should remain with the Lord.
“Only one who is ‘with him’ comes to know him and can truly proclaim him.”
“We know this from experience,” Benedict continued, “whenever priests, because of their many duties, allot less and less time to being with the Lord, they eventually lose, for all their often heroic activity, the inner strength that sustains them. Their activity becomes an empty activism.”
The fundamental way for priests to remain with the Lord, he said, is through the attentive celebration of the Mass, the praying of the Liturgy of the Hours, the reading of Sacred Scripture, Eucharistic Adoration, and by remaining close to His Mother.
In conclusion, the Pope recalled the life of Saint Conrad a lay brother from Altötting who, “by his sheer goodness and humanity, and without grand words, he gave a message more valuable than words alone.”