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This Sunday, 25 April, is Vocations or Good Shepherd Sunday, the dedicated annual day for Catholics around the world to offer special prayers to encourage vocations from families and parishes to the priesthood and to religious life.
Pope Francis will ordain nine deacons to the priesthood at St. Peter’s Basilica on Sunday. All nine of them are being ordained as priests to serve in the Diocese of Rome..
In his message for Vocations Sunday, Pope Francis is focusing on Saint Joseph. He tells us that Saint Joseph suggests to us three key words for each individual’s vocation. The first is dream, the second is service and the third is fidelity.
“Everyone dreams of finding fulfilment in life,” Pope Francis says. So did Joseph. But Joseph’s plans for himself were set aside when he was called by God in dreams to give up his own plans and follow the path of God.
“Saint Joseph let himself be guided by his dreams without hesitation. Why? Because his heart was directed to God; it was already inclined towards him. A small indication was enough for his watchful “inner ear” to recognize God’s voice.”
Pope Francis writes that God’s call doesn’t come to us in spectacular ways.
“He conveys his plans to us with gentleness. 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. In this way, as he did with Saint Joseph, he sets before us profound and unexpected horizons.”
The second theme in St. Joseph’s vocation is service. “Joseph lived entirely for others and never for himself.”
Pope Francis says that God’s call always urges us to take a first step, “to give ourselves, to press forward. There can be no faith without risk.”
Only by abandoning ourselves confidently to grace, setting aside our own programmes and comforts, can we truly say “yes” to God.
A vocation, Pope Francis says, matures through fidelity — living out one’s call every day.
“The first words that Saint Joseph heard in a dream were an invitation not to be afraid, because God remains ever faithful to his promises: “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid”.”
God also reminds each person discerning a vocation of his closeness even in times of doubt and fear.
“They are words you will hear anew, at every step of your vocation, as you return to your first love.”
Pope Francis’s activities in these last seven days (1-8 April) coincide with the Easter Triduum, which was once again celebrated with restrictions in place due to Covid-19. Yet, the health measures did not effect the solemnity of the liturgies.