Pope Francis called on all Catholics to pray for vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life on Good Shepherd Sunday, the World Day of Prayer for Vocations.
“Priesthood and consecrated life require courage and perseverance, and without prayer one does not follow this path. I invite everyone to ask the Lord for the gift of good workers for his kingdom who have their hearts and hands open to his love,” Pope Francis said on May 3.
In his Regina Caeli address, the pope said that the World Day of Prayer of Vocations is a reminder of Jesus’ words in the Gospel of Matthew: “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few, so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest.”
Christ, the Good Shepherd, calls his sheep by name and the sheep listen to his voice, the pope said.
“Christian existence is always a response to the call of God, in any state of life,” he said.
Speaking from the library of the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace, Pope Francis offered advice for discerning the Lord’s voice from other voices of temptation or distraction.
He said that the voice of the evil one “seduces, assails, forces” with “tempting but passing emotions”.
“At first it flatters, makes us believe that we are omnipotent, but then it leaves us with emptiness inside and accuses us: ‘You are worth nothing,’” he said. “The voice of God, on the other hand, corrects us with much patience, but always encourages us, consoles us. It always nourishes hope.”
“The voice of God never binds: God proposes himself, he does not impose himself,” he said.
Pope Francis explained that the voice of temptation “always revolves around the self,” whereas the voice of God invites all to go “beyond ourselves to find true goodness and peace.”
“Dear brothers and sisters, in this time many thoughts and concerns lead us to turn in on ourselves. We pay attention to the voices that reach our heart. Let's ask where they come from,” Pope Francis said.
Pope Francis said that May is “the Marian month par excellence” and encouraged people to place all of their concerns, expectations, and plans for the future “in the heart of the Holy Virgin.”
In his message for the 2020 World Day of Vocations, Pope Francis pointed to Mary’s courageous “yes” to God at the Annunciation as a model to follow:
“Cultivate the interior disposition of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Grateful that Lord gazed upon her, faithful amid fear and turmoil, she courageously embraced her vocation and made of her life an eternal song of praise to the Lord.”
“Every vocation is born of that gaze of love with which the Lord came to meet us,” he said. “We will succeed in discovering and embracing our vocation once we open our hearts in gratitude and perceive the passage of God in our lives.”
The pope stressed that vocational discernment is not simply “a decision we make as isolated individuals.”
“Vocation, more than our own choice, is a response to the Lord’s unmerited call,” he said.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Pope Francis led the traditional Marian Regina Caeli prayer via video livestream on May 3. The pope then appeared in the window of the Apostolic Palace above an empty St. Peter’s Square to offer a blessing for the city of Rome and the world.
“We ask for the grace to recognize and follow the voice of the Good Shepherd, who brings us out of the enclosure of selfishness and leads us to the pastures of true freedom. Our Lady, Mother of the Good Council, guide and accompany our discernment,” Pope Francis said.