Intent: For the Pope, bishops, priests, deacons, religious, and laity who proclaim God’s Word throughout the world, and for an increase in vocations
Shortly before His glorious ascension into Heaven, Our Lord gave the following instructions, known as the Great Commission, to His disciples:
Full authority has been given to me both in heaven and on earth; go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Teach them to carry out everything I have commanded you. And know that I am with you always, until the end of the world (Mt 28:18-20).
With these words, the fledgling Church was commissioned to do a seemingly incomprehensible task—to evangelize the world. When the Holy Spirit descended upon Mary and the apostles at Pentecost, they became energized and empowered with wisdom, knowledge, zeal, courage, fortitude, joy, and other gifts of the Holy Spirit that made their task possible. While all baptized Christians are called to live their faith and to evangelize to others, it is the clergy, by their ordination, who are called in a special way to lead the Church. This ordination, the sacrament of Holy Orders, is like a “mini Pentecost.” As a successor to the apostles and disciples of Christ, the person being ordained is given the gifts of the Holy Spirit to aid and protect him in his ministry. The devil, aware of the extraordinary ministry of these ordained persons, works extra hard against them—to tempt them and to try to deceive them in every way. The devil knows that if he can bring down one of these ordained ministers through some type of scandal, he can cause hundreds or even thousands of other faithful to become discouraged and lose faith. If he can cause one member of the clergy to accept some heretical belief, or to reject some dogmatic truth, then that person has the potential to spread his error to countless others. This is why we must pray for the clergy. We pray that they will have the strength to resist the attacks of the enemy, and the courage to stand up and preach the truth. In our modern world, it is especially important that the clergy have the courage and strength to preach forcefully against the culture of death, and for a culture of life. We pray in a special way for our new Pope, Benedict XVI, that God will strengthen him physically and spiritually and allow him to to defend the true Faith and shepherd the Church militant.
It should be noted that the so-called shortage of vocations being experienced in some parts of the world is only a symptom of the underlying disease of apostasy and degeneration. While it is good to pray for vocations—asking God to alleviate the symptom, we ask God not only to send us more priests, sisters and brothers to serve in His vineyard, but also to cure the disease by sending the Holy Spirit to foster a return to orthodoxy and the true faith in His Church. Recall how Saul recovered his sight after being blinded by his vision of Jesus: “When he [Ananias] entered the house he laid his hands on Saul and said, ‘Saul, my brother, I have been sent by the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the way here, to help you recover your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’ Immediately something like scales fell from his eyes and he regained his sight” (Acts 9:17-18). May the Holy Spirit likewise remove the scales from our eyes and restore our sight. Only then will the “vocations crisis” come to an end.