To mark the 47th World Day of Prayer for Vocations, Pope Benedict has issued a message to help all who are concerned with vocations. In the message, the Pope highlights the need for credible witnesses to attract men and women to follow Christ through the medium of religious life and priesthood. The notion of 'witness awakening vocations' is dealt with in the Holy Father's message by drawing on the rich tradition of being called in sacred scripture from the call to witness of the prophets to the witness of John the Baptist.
Pope Benedict singles out three important elements in vocations (1) friendship with Christ, (2) the complete gift of oneself to God and (3) a life of communion. The Holy Father highlights the importance of all who are called to serve as priests and religious to radiate the joy of serving Christ. Of particular importance to the vocation of religious he writes: 'The very life of men and women religious proclaims the love of Christ whenever they follow him in complete fidelity to the Gospel and joyfully make their own its criteria for judgement and conduct. They become "signs of contradiction" for the world, whose thinking is often inspired by materialism, self-centredness and individualism. By letting themselves be won over by God through self-renunciation, their fidelity and the power of their witness constantly awaken in the hearts of many young people the desire to follow Christ in their turn, in a way that is generous and complete. To imitate Christ, chaste, poor and obedient, and to identify with him: this is the ideal of the consecrated life, a witness to the absolute primacy of God in human life and history.
The Pope's message for the 47th World Day of Prayer for Vocations is quite inspiring and deserves to be read and acted upon. The full text of the letter can be found by clicking this link. Vocations Sunday is celebrated on April 25th, 2010.