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Blessed John Paul II's 1992 Vocation Message

Pray for the Spirit to lead a growing number of faithful to commit themselves in the love of God
- in English, Italian & Spanish

for 29th World Day of Prayer for Vocations, 4th Sunday of Easter, 10 May 1992

Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate, dearest brothers and sisters of all the world!

1. "The disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit" (Acts 13:52). Thus we read in the Liturgy of the Fourth Sunday of Easter; and in fact each community, when it sees grow the number of those who discover the hidden treasure of the kingdom of heaven and leave everything to dedicate themselves uniquely to the things of the Lord (cf Mt 13:44), feels itself overflowing with the joy which comes from the word of God and from the mysterious action of his Spirit.

Comforted, therefore, by these words from the Sacred Scripture and by this experience, the Church celebrates each year a special Day of Prayer for Vocations, trusting in the promise that whatever she asks the Father in the name of the Lord he will give her (cf Jn 16:23).

In view of the upcoming occasion, I desire this year to invite you to pray for the Spirit to lead a growing number of faithful, especially young people, to commit themselves in the love of God "with all their heart, with all their soul and with all their strength (cf Dt 6:5; Mt 22:37; Mk 12:30), to serve him in those particular forms of Christian life which are carried out in religious consecration. This is expressed in various ways, be it in the priestly state, in the profession of vows, in the choice of monasteries or apostolic communities, or in the secular state.

2. The Second Vatican Council recognized that this "special gift" is a sign of election, as it allows those who welcome it to conform themselves more deeply to "that kind of poor and virginal life which Christ the Lord chose for himself and the Virgin Mother embraced" (Lumen gentium, 46).

My revered predecessor Paul VI was able to affirm that the consecrated life is a "privileged testimony of a constant seeking for God, of an undivided love of Christ alone, and of an absolute dedication to the growth of his kingdom. Without this concrete sign there would be a danger that charity would grow cold, the salvific paradox of the Gospel would be blunted, and that the 'salt' of faith would be diluted in a world undergoing secularization" (Evangelica testificatio, 3).

The vocation of consecrated persons, in fact, requires the active proclamation of the Gospel in apostolic works and in services of charity which correspond to an authentically ecclesial way of acting.

The Church, in the course of her history, has always been enlivened and comforted by many men and women religious, witnesses of love without limits for the Lord Jesus, while in times closer to us she has received valuable aid from many consecrated persons who, living in the world, have desired to be for the world the leaven of sanctification and the yeast for initiatives inspired by the Gospel.

3. We must strongly state that even today there is need for the testimony of consecrated life, so that man will never forget that his true dimension is the eternal one. Man is destined to inhabit "new heavens and a new earth" (2 Pt 3:13), and proclaim that true happiness is found only in the infinite love of God.

How much poorer would our century be if the presence of consecrated existence to this Love was weakened; and how much poorer would society be if it was not led to raise its gaze to there where true joys are!

The Church would also be poorer if there were fewer who manifested concretely and with force the perennial signficance of the gift of one's own life for the kingdom of Heaven.

The Christian people needs men and women who, in the offering of themselves to the Lord, find the full justification of their very existence and in this way assume the task to be the "light of the peoples" and "salt of the earth", builders of hope for those who question them about the perennial newness of the Christian ideal.

4. We cannot deny that in some areas the number of those ready to consecrate themselves to Christ is diminishing. From this we see the need for an increasing commitment to prayer and of suitable initiatives to prevent this crisis from having grave consequences for the people of God.

Therefore, I invite my brothers in the Episcopate to promote, especially among the clergy and laity, knowledge of and high esteem for the consecrated life. In seminaries, above all, they should assure that courses and instruction on the value of religious consecration are not lacking.

Secondly, I exhort priests not to fail to propose to young people this high and noble ideal. We all know how important the work of a spiritual guide is so that the seeds of vocation planted generously by grace may grow and mature.

To catechists I recommend them to present, with consistent solidarity in doctrine, this divine gift which the Lord has given to his Church.

To parents I say, trusting in their Christian sensibility nourished by a living faith, that they are able to taste the joy of the divine gift which enters their home if a son or daughter is called by the Lord into his service.

To theologians and writers of religious disciplines, I address a warm invitation to present in a good light, according to the Catholic tradition, the theological significance of the consecrated life.

To educators, I recommend that they frequently present the great figures of consecrated life, religious and secular, who have served the Church and society in various fields.

To religious families and to institutes of secular life I mention that the first and most constructive vocational apostolate is personal witness, when it is expressed with a life full of joy in service of the Lord.

I also exhort members of institutes of contemplative life to consider that the true secret of the spiritual renewal and apostolic fruitfulness of consecrated life has its roots in their prayer. Rich is the spiritual and doctrinal patrimony which contemplatives possess, while the world seeks in that richness a response to the questions constantly raised by our age.

But most of all I address the youth of today, and I say to them: "Let yourselves be seduced by the Eternal One", repeating the words of the ancient prophet: "You seduced me, O Lord ... you were too strong for me and you triumphed" (Jer 20:7).

Let yourselves be charmed by Christ, the infinite one who appeared among you in visible and imitable form. Let yourselves be attracted by his example, which has changed the history of the world and directed it toward an exhilarating goal. Let yourselves be loved by the love of the Holy Spirit, who wishes to turn you away from worldly things to begin in you the life of the new self, created in God's way in righteousness and true holiness (cf Eph 4:24).

Fall in love with Jesus Christ, to live his very life, so that our world may have life in the light of the Gospel.

5. We entrust to the Virgin Mary the great cause of consecrated life. Following the invitation of her words, "Do whatever he tells you" (Jn 2:5), we ask the Mother of Vocations:

O Virgin Mary,
to you we commend our youth,
in particular the young people called
to follow your Son more closely.

You know how many difficulties
they must face,
how many struggles, how many obstacles.

Help them to pronounce
their "yes"
to the divine call,
as you did at the invitation of the Angel.

Draw them near to your heart
so that they can understand with you
the beauty and the joy that awaits them
when the Omnipotent One
calls them into his intimacy,
to make them witnesses
of his Love
and make them able
to inspire the Church
with their consecration.

O Virgin Mary,
obtain for all of us
to be able to rejoice with you
in seeing that the love
brought by your Son is received,
treasured and returned.
Obtain for us that we may see
even in our own days
the wonders of the mysterious action of the Holy Spirit.

With my Blessing.

From the Vatican, 1 November 1991, the Solemnity of All Saints, the fourteenth year of my Pontificate


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