Laudetur Jesus Christus! Gelobt sei Jesus Christus!
Sia lodato Gesù Cristo! Praised be Jesus Christ!
Today is Good Shepherd Sunday on the traditional calendar, while next Sunday is Good Shepherd Sunday on the revised calendar. This is a good time to contemplate the importance of priestly vocations in the life of the Church. Without priests, there would be no forgiveness of sins through the Sacrament of Penance, and even worse, there would be no Holy Eucharist.
St. John Vianney once said that if he were to pass a priest speaking with an angel, he would first salute the priest and then the angel. The priest serves in persona Christi. At the moment of his ordination, he is configured in a particular way to Christ Himself, with the specific mission of offering Mass and forgiving sins. While priests are human, while they continue to sin, while they continue to be the same person they were before in most ways, there is nothing that can take away this configuration. For grace does not destroy nature, but perfects it.
It is every Catholics duty to promote vocations. Ensuring that we, first of all, pray for the pope and our bishops, pastors, and priests each and every day. This is whether we like them or not, whether we agree with them or not. For even the most sinful priest has a greater dignity than even the angels.
Secondly, we are called upon to pray for and promote future vocations. We do this in our prayer, in promoting piety and devotion within our families, but encouraging young boys and men to consider the priesthood. God does not call or text someone to be a priest, but our question could be what prompts the consideration.
Thirdly, I am also encouraging each of you to speak positively about the priesthood. The first thing that is done, in any historical persecution of the Church, is to speak poorly of the priests. Sometimes it is the priests own fault that such things are said. Sometimes things are said about priests without merit or any charity. What we can do in our families and parishes is to speak positively of the priesthood, recalling holy examples like St. Philip Neri, St. John Vianney, St. John Bosco, and so many others. That it is a life worth considering, a life of heroic virtue and sacrifice.
I will continue this reflection on the priesthood and vocations next week, and perhaps beyond. The priest is our connection to Jesus Christ and the visible source of unity within our parishes and churches. Pray for an increase in vocations to the priesthood. The Church is always in need of generous men willing to give up much in service to the Gospel.
So I ask, for our young men, are you willing to answer Christ’s call? The Lord is in need of shepherds for His flock. For everyone else, are we willing to do whatever we must to promote a healthy culture where vocations can flourish? The very life of the Church depends upon this!