The 50th annual world day of prayer for vocations takes place on the Fourth Sunday of Easter (Good Shepherd Sunday) - April 21st, 2013.
This important annual event in the life of the Church was instituted during the Second Vatican Council by Pope Paul VI as a means of inviting Catholics throughout the world to pray for vocations to priesthood and religious life.
Now, 50 years on, and during the Year of Faith, Pope Benedict has written a message to coincide with the day of prayer this year. The theme of his message is "Vocations as a sign of hope founded in faith." and the thrust of what the Holy Father has to say is to remind us that God continues to call people to work in the vineyard and that we must continue to pray and trust in our ultimate hope - which is God himself. The full text of the Pope's message can be found here.
This extract from the message of Pope Benedict will, I am sure, resonate with vocations personnnel and those interested in answering the call of the Lord in faith:
Vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life are born out of the experience of a personal encounter with Christ, out of sincere and confident dialogue with him, so as to enter into his will. It is necessary, therefore, to grow in the experience of faith, understood as a profound relationship with Jesus, as inner attentiveness to his voice which is heard deep within us. This process, which enables us to respond positively to God’s call, is possible in Christian communities where the faith is lived intensely, where generous witness is given of adherence to the Gospel, where there is a strong sense of mission which leads people to make the total gift of self for the Kingdom of God, nourished by recourse to the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist, and by a fervent life of prayer. This latter “must on the one hand be something very personal, an encounter between my intimate self and God, the living God. On the other hand it must be constantly guided and enlightened by the great prayers of the Church and of the saints, by liturgical prayer, in which the Lord teaches us again and again how to pray properly.” (Spe Salvi, 34).
The Irish Dominicans will mark the 50th world day of prayer for vocations in a special way this year. Details in the coming weeks.