Pray to the Lord of the harvest: First World Day of Prayer for Vocations

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"Pray to the Lord of the harvest to send workers" for his Church (cf. Matthew 9, 38).

Casting an anxious gaze on the boundless expanse of verdant spiritual fields, which await priestly hands all over the world, the heartfelt invocation to the Lord springs from the soul, according to Christ's invitation. Yes, today as then, "the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few" (Matthew 9, 37): few, in comparison with the increased need for pastoral care; few, faced with the needs of the modern world, with its tremors of restlessness, with its need for clarity and light, which require understanding, open, up-to-date teachers and fathers; still few compared to those who, although distant, indifferent or hostile, still want in the priest an irreproachable living model of the doctrine which he professes. And above all, these priestly hands are scarce in mission fields, wherever there are men and brothers to catechize, to help, to console.

May this Sunday, which in the Roman Liturgy takes the name of the Good Shepherd from the Gospel, therefore see the generous ranks of Catholics from all over the world united in a single heartbeat of prayer, to invoke from the Lord the workers necessary for his harvest. And in order for this World Day of Prayer for Priestly and Religious Vocations to have the resonance it deserves, we wished to address our inciting word to all our most beloved children, so that no one fails in such a serious and responsible duty. The problem of the sufficient number of priests affects all the faithful closely: not only because the religious future of Christian society depends on it, but also because this problem is the precise and inexorable index of the vitality of faith and love of individual parish communities and diocesan, and testimony to the moral sanity of Christian families. Where numerous vocations to the ecclesiastical and religious state blossom, there people generously live according to the Gospel: there is a sign that there are fervent and good parents, who not only are not afraid, but feel happy and honored to give their children to the Church; there are zealous and faithful priests, for whom the continuity of their priesthood is the first and most important program of pastoral care; there, above all, are generous and open, pure and courageous adolescents who, nourished by the Eucharistic life and sensitive to the voice of Christ, know how to nourish in their young hearts the desire to serve the Church one day, and to give themselves to souls throughout the life, to reproduce in himself the features of the Good Shepherd, and faithfully follow in his footsteps.

So let our prayers rise to Heaven: from families, from parishes, from religious communities, from hospital wards, from the crowd of innocent children, so that vocations may grow, and be in conformity with the wishes of the Heart of Christ.

So we will pray:

O Jesus, divine Shepherd of souls, who called the Apostles to make them fishers of men, still attract to you ardent and generous souls of young people, to make them your followers and your ministers; make them sharers in your thirst for universal Redemption, for which you renew your Sacrifice on the altars: You, O Lord, "always alive to intercede for us" (Hebrews. 7: 25), open to them the horizons of the whole world, where the silent supplication of so many brothers asks for the light of truth and the warmth of love; so that, responding to your call, they may prolong your mission down here, build up your mystical body, which is the Church, and be "salt of the earth," "light of the world" (Matthew 5, 13). Extend, O Lord, your loving call also to many souls of pure and generous women, and instill in them the desire for evangelical perfection, and dedication to the service of the Church and of brothers and sisters in need of assistance and charity. Amen.

As a pledge of the particular predilections of the Lord for those who, joining our prayers, will offer their supplications to Heaven today, we cordially impart to you, beloved sons and daughters, our propitiatory Apostolic Blessing, which we extend especially to all priests and to consecrated souls, and to all who, in seminaries and religious houses, prepare themselves in piety, study, sacrifice to go up to the Altar, to one day be cooperators in the priestly order.