Fr Willie Purcell – National Diocesan Vocations Coordinator celebrated Mass for the World Day of Prayer for Vocations which was Televised by RTE One Television on Sunday 25th April.
We have learned many things from Covid 19, we have learned the importance of family, friends, community, going to church, and the appreciation of the simple things in life, the changing of the seasons as we look out our windows, the smiling faces of family, friends, neighbours, community members and parishioners as they greet us from a distance and the generosity of many who perhaps leave a gift at our door to cheer us and let us know they are thinking of us. We have also learned the importance of quiet spaces, time alone and perhaps the opportunity to pray in our homes, on line – and find God in the silence and even the loneliness of these days.
While Covid 19 has taken many things from us, it has not taken our dreams. We dream of the day when we will have some normality and return in a new way to what we once knew.
In his message for this world day of prayer for vocations Pope Francis presents to us St. Joseph a man who not only believed in his dreams but found his vocation in them.
The Gospel of Matthew recounts four dreams with which God inspired St. Joseph, each of which represented a difficult call from God.
After each dream, Joseph had to change his plans and take a risk, sacrificing his own plans in order to follow God’s plan for him, whom he trusted completely. Every vocation whether to marriage, single life, priesthood, diaconate, consecrated life succeeds by trusting completely in God and allowing God’s unfolding plan to be manifest in our lives.
Like St. Joseph and our Blessed Mother, its having the courage to say “yes” to the Lord who always surprises and never disappoints. Though it seems strange to us that he would put so much trust in dreams, St. Joseph let himself be guided without hesitation.
In his message for today Pope Francis asks ‘Why’ why did St Joseph do this? He did it “Because his heart was directed to God; it was already inclined towards Him.”
God’s call to each one of us happens in the same way, without putting pressure on our freedom.
“He does not overwhelm us with dazzling visions but quietly speaks in the depths of our heart, drawing near to us and speaking to us through our thoughts and feelings.”
All God asks of us is loving service and faithfulness to His call – that’s our vocation.
As we accept God’s call in our lives we realise that our vocation cannot be passive, but requires us to move forward and take risks by abandoning ourselves to God’s grace.
Our Gospel today talks of Jesus the Good Shepherd, a good shepherd after the heart of God has the heart of a good Samaritan who seeks out those in need, everyone who is entrusted with the care of others in prayer and service is a good shepherd. That’s you and me regardless of our situation in life, whether we are active or inactive. Therefore priests, deacons, religious, parents, neighbours, teachers, our sick, front-line workers, media personnel, and caregivers, among others, are all good shepherds.
We become good shepherds by loving those entrusted to us, praying for them, spending our time, talents and blessings for their welfare, and guarding them in times of difficulty, worry sickness and fear.
Our local parish, our religious community, our seminary, our convents, our homes, our schools, our hospitals, our nursing homes, our prisons, our work place is our sheepfold, and we need men and women, priests, sisters and brothers who have courage and faith to lead us safely into the presence of God.
The Church uses this year’s World Day of Prayer for Vocations to encourage and affirm those who are discerning their vocation in life . We all share in the responsibility of fostering vocations through the witness and prayer of our lives: Pope Francis reminds us that every faith community must continuously pray for vocations both in the Church and in their families.
On this World Day of Prayer for Vocations, let us begin, or continue, especially in these pandemic times to pray for an increase in vocations to priesthood, diaconate and religious life and to thank God for our own vocation, that with grateful hearts we might inspire others to dream the dream that God has for us and live that dream in whatever vocation He is calling us to live.
St. Joseph did not do astonishing things, he had no unique charisms, nor did he appear special in the eyes of those who met him. He was not famous: there are no words attributed to him in the Gospels. And yet, through his ordinary life, he accomplished something extraordinary in the eyes of God. May Saint Joseph, protector of vocations, accompany all of us with his fatherly heart!
Fr. Willie Purcell.
National Diocesan Vocations Coordinator.