Today the Vatican released the Pope’s message for the 45th World Day of Prayer for Vocations, which this year has the theme of "Vocations at the Service of the Church on Mission". In his message, Pope Benedict stressed that Christian communities must prepare children and young people for vocations by their witness to the Gospel.
Pope Benedict began his message by recalling Jesus’ Great Commission to the Apostles (Mt. 28:19-20) to take the message of the Gospel to the ends of the earth. He then traced this mission back to its origins in the call of God to the prophets.
According to the Pope, the way the Gospel is transmitted today remains the same as in the time of the Apostles. “In the beginning, and thereafter, what ‘impels’ the Apostles is always ‘the love of Christ’. (...) In fact, the love of Christ must be communicated to the brothers by example and words, with all one's life.”
The Holy Father also made sure to note that no one is exempt from the call to evangelize, saying, “every Christian is called to bear witness and to announce the Gospel”. However, “this missionary dimension is associated in a special and intimate way with the priestly vocation,” the Pope said.
Perhaps most notable in the Pontiff’s message was his emphasis on the need to reach children and young people.
Benedict XVI praised “priests who have suffered even to the sacrifice of their lives in order to serve Christ” saying that “Theirs is a moving witness that can inspire many young people to follow Christ and to expend their lives for others, and thus to discover true life.”
He also called on Christian communities to “never fail to provide both children and adults with constant education in the faith.” The Holy Father added, “Vocations to the ministerial priesthood and to the consecrated life can only flourish in a spiritual soil that is well cultivated. Christian communities that live the missionary dimension of the mystery of the Church in a profound way will never be inward looking.
In his closing remarks, Pope Benedict thanked all those who promote vocations to the priesthood and religious life but also “to young people on their vocational journey”.
The celebration of the 45th World Day of Prayer for Vocations will take place on April 13, the fourth week of Easter, this year.
The full message from Pope Benedict XVI can be found at: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/document.php?n=169