Vocations Sunday falls on Sunday April 29th this year - the fourth Sunday of Easter and it will be the 49th World Day of Prayer for Vocations.
In his message for the day of prayer, Pope Benedict has chosen the theme 'God is Love - Deus Caritas Est.' Below are extracts from the Pope's message:
"It is a love that is limitless and that precedes us, sustains and calls us along the path of life, a love rooted in an absolutely free gift of God..........every specific vocation is in fact born of the initiative of God......He is the One who takes the 'first step' and not because he has found something good in us but because of the presence of his owm love 'poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.'
"In every age, the source of the divine call is to be found in the initiative of the infinite love of God, who reveals himself fully in Jesus Christ. As I wrote in my first Encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, "God is indeed visible in a number of ways. In the love-story recounted by the Bible, he comes towards us, he seeks to win our hearts, all the way to the Last Supper, to the piercing of his heart on the Cross, to his appearances after the Resurrection and to the great deeds by which, through the activity of the Apostles, he guided the nascent Church along its path. Nor has the Lord been absent from subsequent Church history: he encounters us ever anew, in the men and women who reflect his presence, in his word, in the sacraments, and especially in the Eucharist" (No. 17)."
"These two expressions of the one divine love must be lived with a particular intensity and purity of heart by those who have decided to set out on the path of vocation discernment towards the ministerial priesthood and the consecrated life; they are its distinguishing mark. Love of God, which priests and consecrated persons are called to mirror, however imperfectly, is the motivation for answering the Lord's call to special consecration through priestly ordination or the profession of the evangelical counsels. Saint Peter's vehement reply to the Divine Master: "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you" (Jn 21:15) contains the secret of a life fully given and lived out, and thus one which is deeply joyful.
The other practical expression of love, that towards our neighbour, and especially those who suffer and are in greatest need, is the decisive impulse that leads the priest and the consecrated person to be a builder of communion between people and a sower of hope. The relationship of consecrated persons, and especially of the priest, to the Christian community is vital and becomes a fundamental dimension of their affectivity. The Curé of Ars was fond of saying: "Priests are not priests for themselves, but for you" (Le cure d'Ars. Sa pensée - Son cœur, Foi Vivante, 1966, p. 100)."
The full text of Pope Benedict's message can be seen on the Vocations Ireland website.