Written by Sherry
Monday, 22 January 2007 11:28
Fred raises a critical point below:
"I would suggest that vocations to the priesthood are directly related to the awareness of the vocation of baptism. That is, if folks don't hear the baptismal call to holiness, then they're not likely to hear the particular call to the priesthood."
And who is going to hear and seek to answer the baptismal call to holiness? Intentional Disciples. Intentional Discipleship is the non-negotiable foundation of vocation and of cultivating a culture of discernment where it is normal for teen and adult Catholics to be asking "What is God calling me to?"
A couple years ago, I was teaching in another country and had the opportunity to chat over a nice dinner with a local auxiliary bishop. He told me that he had just returned from a 22 dioceses tour of the US in 22 days. His mission: ask 22 bishops what they thought was the secret of generating priestly vocations. I started to tingle. Maybe this was it - maybe he had discovered and would reveal to me the secret sought by so many. I asked the obvious question: "What did they say?" and waited with baited breath for his answer.
The bishop responded: they were all over the map. I would visit one bishop and he would tell me that "we are successful because we *only* concentrate on priestly vocations" and the next bishops would say "we are successful because we focus on calling forth all vocations." There was no consensus.
I hesitated to ask but I knew I would never get another opportunity:
"Did any of the bishops mention evangelization in reference to vocations?"
The bishop look bemused and responded "You are telling me that I asked the wrong questions."
"Oh, no, no" I hastily assured him. "I was just wondering if any bishops raised the subject in your conversations."
The answer? Not one of the 22 bishops visited had mentioned the issue of evangelization in connection with calling forth priestly vocations.
As Hans Urs von Balthazar observed in his book, Prayer:
Simon, the fisherman, before his meeting with Christ, however thoroughly he might have searched within himself, could not possibly have found a trace of Peter." (p. 49)
Basically, Simon could have rooted around in his unconscious for the rest of his life and never come up with "Peter". It was beyond anything he could see in himself or anyone about him could see in him. His vocation to be "Peter" was a mystery that emerged from a sustained encounter with Christ - out of his life as an intentional disciple of Jesus.
“He Brought Him to Jesus. In a way, this is the heart of all the Church's pastoral work on behalf of vocations"
- I Will Give You Shepherds, 38
If you want peace, work for justice. If you want priests, make disciples.