Preaching a parish retreat in Ardmore parish in the diocese of Derry this past week has prompted some reflections on the link between eucharistic adoration and vocations. During the retreat the parish has prayed each day in the presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament from morning until evening. There is a sense of a new appreciation of eucharistic adoration and the necessity to prayer for vocations.
There are important reasons for the link between prayer for vocations and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Firstly, and most importantly, eucharistc adoration in parishes and religious houses should as a matter of course pray for vocations. Secondly, only a church that is constantly 'in love' with the blessed Eucharist will attract and generate vocations. Thirdly, religious formation depends so much on drawing close to Jesus himself and the act of visiting Him. Fouthly, of course, is the strong connection between the Eucharist and the priesthood.
There are numerous examples of evidence that eucharistic adoration has proved to be a decisive factor in attracting vocations around the world. It should be said that there is a simple reason for this - namely that it is the 'vocations strategy' of the Lord himself when he asked his followers to pray to the Lord of the harvest to send labourers to his harvest.
Adoring the Lord Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is especially effective because it draws attention in a unique way to the great gift that makes the priesthood and religious life so extraordinary and so needed - without the priesthood, of course, we would not have God's real presence in the Blessed Sacrament. Silent Eucharistic Adoration naturally poses the question 'What do you want to do with me, Lord?' - it is a hope of mine that those considering a vocation will use time before the Lord to answer this question.
I have been very heartened by the prayerful way that the people of this parish in Derry have used the time to pray before the Blessed Sacrament for vocations - it is their prayer that is in large measure responsible for the vocations that the Church has.