Lord, Send Us More Laborers for the Harvest
This Fourth Sunday of Easter is the 52nd World Day of Prayer for Vocations, in which we pray that the Lord send more laborers for his harvest (cf. Matthew 9:38, Luke 10:2) and we pray also for the priests and consecrated religious who have ministered to us throughout our lives. With prayers offered up to the Lord, we might also encourage the young people in our lives to consider a vocation as a priest, deacon or religious brother or sister, as well as membership in societies of apostolic life or secular institutes.
In his Message for this special day, Pope Francis asks us to reflect on “that particular ‘exodus’ which is the heart of vocation, or better yet, of our response to the vocation God gives us.” What our Holy Father means is the basic movement of leaving behind our inward-looking self to decisively turn toward the Lord, accepting his call of love and being transformed by him, and then going forward with trust and self-giving. “Responding to God’s call,” the Pope says, “means allowing him to help us leave ourselves and our false security behind, and to strike out on the path which leads to Jesus Christ, the origin and destiny of our life and our happiness” (Message for the 52nd World Day of Prayer for Vocations).
This familiar theme of our Holy Father, that of “going out” toward others is a calling common to us all as missionary disciples, but it applies in a particular way in the priesthood and consecrated life, in which one gives him- or herself totally to Christ and his Church. Our model is our mother in faith, the Blessed Virgin Mary, whose “yes” to God’s call inspires our own. With her, our prayer is that the fire of the Holy Spirit may enkindle our hearts and show us the path that the Lord has laid out for us.
In our culture today, amidst all the secular pressures that would exclude God and consequently leaves people spiritually impoverished, more and more young men and women are discerning a call to the priesthood or consecrated life. This year alone will see a 25 percent increase over last year in the number of men ordained to the priesthood nationwide. Locally, because of the growth in the number of seminarians, we needed to expand our Saint John Paul II Seminary.
A renewed vibrancy is also seen in religious orders across the country. Young religious sisters and brothers have joyfully discovered what Pope Francis himself shows in his life. “How wonderful it is to be surprised by God’s call, to embrace his word, and to walk in the footsteps of Jesus, in adoration of the divine mystery and in generous service to our neighbors!” (Message for the 52nd World Day of Prayer for Vocations).
The Archdiocese of Washington has a number of resources to assist the young person who is discerning a vocation. At our DC Priest website, in conjunction with the Saint John Paul II Seminary, you will find a wealth of information on the priesthood and formation process, including the vocation stories of many of our seminarians. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops likewise has a variety of informative materials to help women and men to hear and answer God’s call.
We pray for vocations in a special way today, but our prayer is one we can offer every day. With our Holy Father Pope Francis and the entire Church Universal, let us join in prayer:
God our Father, you made each of us to use our gifts in the Body of Christ.
We ask that you inspire young people whom you call to priesthood and consecrated life to courageously follow your will.
Send workers into your great harvest so that the Gospel is preached, the poor are served with love, the suffering are comforted, and your people are strengthened by the sacraments.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.