This Good Shepherd Sunday is a worldwide prayer day for vocations to the priesthood and religious life (nuns and brothers). There is such a crying need for good priests and religious that the Pope has set aside this Fourth Sunday as a world day of prayer. All Catholics, especially by virtue of the sacrament of Confirmation, have the obligation of spreading Christ’s teachings. Yet in the Church, some persons have been given a special role in proclaiming Christ and these are the priests and religious.

Take the example of St. Paul. We observed him as a dedicated preacher of Christ, but Paul was not always such. In fact, he persecuted the Church of Christ in the beginning, remember? When St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr, was stoned to death. Paul stood by looking and approved of his death (Acts. 7:58ff). In his last moment Stephen prayed for his persecutors, and St. Augustine commenting later on this incident wrote: “If Stephen had not prayed, the Church would not have gained Paul” (Sermon 315).

St. Augustine knew well the power of prayer from his personal experience. As a young man he led a dissolute, selfish life with no regard for religion (like some young people today). But one person never gave up on him – his mother, St. Monica. Through over 35 years of persevering prayers, Augustine “surrendered” and the born-again young man later rose to become a priest, an outstanding bishop, a great theologian and an illustrious saint.

Christ himself urged his disciples to pray when he said: “The harvest indeed is plentiful, but the laborers are few, pray, therefore, the Lord of the harvest to send more laborers to his harvesting.” If, young people have the desire to serve God and fellowmen in a more meaningful, more dedicated way, don’t stifle their desire. Leave open the possibility of a religious vocation, consult your pastor or a vocation director, and ask God to help you make the right decision.

Parents can show their love for God by supporting and encouraging their children who have the desire. Parents should keep a middle ground though; on the one hand, they should not push their children into a religious vocation; on the other hand, they should not discourage or block a son or daughter wishing to try the religious life. If you are generous in giving your children to the religious life, God who’s never outdone in generosity will certainly reward you.

#39. GOOD SHEPHERDS AS MIRRORS: “We don’t need superstars. We need self-proclaimed messiahs. We need people who can rally and inspire us to something or someone greater than themselves. We need people who “mirror” to us who we are and who we can be, clearly, because they “mirror” God in their very lives”. These are the Good Shepherds of the country. (Pres. Obama, in his first inaugural speech.)

This Sunday is our World Day of Prayer for Vocations. It is also Earth Day. On the 23rd we have the optional memorial of St. George. St. Mark, the author of the First Gospel, is celebrated on the 25th. On the 27th, we have National Arbor Day for 2018. This is all for now, watch for the next bulletin. God Bless!

Your Priest-Servant and Parochial Administrator,

Fr. Reggie