The World Day of Prayer for Vocations provided the theme of the Pope's brief reflections before praying the Regina Coeli at midday on Sunday.
Speaking from the window of his study, the Holy Father greeted the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square and expressed his joy at having recently ordained fifteen priests during a solemn Eucharistic celebration in the Vatican Basilica. He then went on to recall that on the Sunday of the Good Shepherd, marks the World Day of Prayer for Vocations which this year is dedicated to: “Vocation in the mystery of the Church.”
“Christian vocation,” he said, “is the renewal of the personal friendship with Jesus Christ, which gives full meaning to one's existence and makes it receptive to the Kingdom of God. The Church lives off this friendship, nourished by the Word and by the Sacraments, holy truths especially entrusted to the ministry of bishops, priests and deacons consecrated by the Sacrament of Holy Orders.”
“For this reason,” Pope Benedict added, “the priest's mission is irreplaceable; and although in some areas there is a lack of clergy, it must not be doubted that God continues to call boys, young men and adults to leave everything and dedicate themselves to preaching the Gospel and to pastoral ministry.”
He continued: “Another special way to follow Christ is the vocation to consecrated life, expressed though an existence of poverty, chastity and obedience, entirely dedicated to God in contemplation and prayer, while serving our brothers and sisters, especially the weakest and poorest.”
Benedict XVI concluded his remarks by recalling that “Christian marriage is also and to all effects a vocation to sanctity, and the example of saintly parents is the primary condition favoring the growth of priestly and religious vocations.”
(This update courtesy of Vatican Information Service.)