15-December-2012 -- Vatican Information Service |

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Message For The 50th World Day Of Prayer For Vocations, "Sign Of Hope Founded In Faith"

Vatican City, 15 December 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father's Message for the 50th World Day of Prayer for Vocations, to be celebrated on 21 April 2013, fourth Sunday of Easter, was published today, in which Benedict XVI reflects on the theme of "Vocations as a sign of hope founded in faith". Given below are extensive extracts from the message.

"Dear Brothers and Sisters, what exactly is God's faithfulness, to which we adhere with unwavering hope? It is his love! He, the Father, pours His love into our innermost self through the Holy Spirit. And this love, fully manifested in Jesus Christ, engages with our existence and demands a response in terms of what each individual wants to do with his or her life, and what he or she is prepared to offer in order to live it to the full.

"The love of God sometimes follows paths one could never have imagined, but it always reaches those who are willing to be found. Hope is nourished, then, by this certainty: 'We ourselves have known and believed in the love that God has for us'. This deep, demanding love, which penetrates well below the surface, gives us courage; it gives us hope in our life's journey and in our future; it makes us trust in ourselves, in history and in other people.

"I want to speak particularly to the young and I say to you once again: 'What would your life be without this love? God takes care of men and women from creation to the end of time, when He will bring His plan of salvation to completion. In the Risen Lord we have the certainty of our hope!' (Address to Young People of the Diocese of San Marino-Montefeltro, 19 June 2011).

"Just as He did during His earthly existence, so today the risen Jesus walks along the streets of our life and sees us immersed in our activities, with all our desires and our needs. In the midst of our everyday circumstances He continues to speak to us; He calls us to live our life with Him, for only He is capable of satisfying our thirst for hope. He lives now among the community of disciples that is the Church, and still today calls people to follow Him. The call can come at any moment.

"Today too, Jesus continues to say, 'Come, follow me'. Accepting His invitation means no longer choosing our own path. Following Him means immersing our own will in the will of Jesus, truly giving Him priority, giving Him pride of place in every area of our lives: in the family, at work, in our personal interests, in ourselves. It means handing over our very lives to Him, living in profound intimacy with Him, entering through Him into communion with the Father in the Holy Spirit, and consequently with our brothers and sisters. This communion of life with Jesus is the privileged 'setting' in which we can experience hope and in which life will be full and free.

"Vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life are born out of the experience of a personal encounter with Christ, out of sincere and confident dialogue with Him, so as to enter into His will. It is necessary, therefore, to grow in the experience of faith, understood as a profound relationship with Jesus, as inner attentiveness to His voice which is heard deep within us. This process, which enables us to respond positively to God's call, is possible in Christian communities where the faith is lived intensely, where generous witness is given of adherence to the Gospel, where there is a strong sense of mission which leads people to make the total gift of self for the Kingdom of God, nourished by recourse to the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist, and by a fervent life of prayer. This latter 'must on the one hand be something very personal, an encounter between my intimate self and God, the living God. On the other hand it must be constantly guided and enlightened by the great prayers of the Church and of the saints, by liturgical prayer, in which the Lord teaches us again and again how to pray properly.'

"Deep and constant prayer brings about growth in the faith of the Christian community, in the unceasingly renewed certainty that God never abandons His people and that He sustains them by raising up particular vocations - to the priesthood and the consecrated life - so that they can be signs of hope for the world. Indeed, priests and religious are called to give themselves unconditionally to the People of God, in a service of love for the Gospel and the Church, serving that firm hope which can only come from an openness to the divine.

"By means of the witness of their faith and apostolic zeal, therefore, they can transmit, especially to the younger generations, a strong desire to respond generously and promptly to Christ Who calls them to follow Him more closely. Whenever a disciple of Jesus accepts the divine call to dedicate himself to the priestly ministry or to the consecrated life, we witness one of the most mature fruits of the Christian community, which helps us to look with particular trust and hope to the future of the Church and to her commitment to evangelisation. This constantly requires new workers to preach the Gospel, to celebrate the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

"So let there be committed priests, who know how to accompany young people as 'companions on the journey', helping them, on life's often tortuous and difficult path, to recognize Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life, telling them, with Gospel courage, how beautiful it is to serve God, the Christian community, one's brothers and sisters. Let there be priests who manifest the fruitfulness of an enthusiastic commitment, which gives a sense of completeness to their lives, because it is founded on faith in Him, who loved us first.

"Equally, I hope that young people, who are presented with so many superficial and ephemeral options, will be able to cultivate a desire for what is truly worthy, for lofty objectives, radical choices, service to others in imitation of Jesus. Dear young people, do not be afraid to follow Him and to walk the demanding and courageous paths of charity and generous commitment! In that way you will be happy to serve, you will be witnesses of a joy that the world cannot give, you will be living flames of an infinite and eternal love, you will learn to 'give an account of the hope that is within you'!"

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