for April 25th, 2021
Fourth Sunday of Easter • Good Shepherd Sunday
ONLINE RESOURCES for WORLD DAY OF PRAYER FOR VOCATIONS
RESOURCES FOR MASS
PREACHING ON VOCATIONS
Ideas for April 25, 2021 • Readings
First Reading: Acts 4:8-12
Peter heals a crippled man, is jailed, and then addresses the people, assuring them that these miraculous works are done through the power of Jesus.
The vocation angle: In this passage two people are transformed: the crippled man and Peter. The cripple is a lowly person, miraculously healed. Peter is an ordinary man emboldened to preach the Gospel. These two men are transformed through Jesus, crucified as a common criminal, but now raised from the dead. The vocation message? God transforms whomever He chooses. You don’t have to be perfect or sinless to be a priest, brother, or sister. If God calls, His grace is sufficient.
Second Reading: 1 John 3:1-2
John helps early Christians identify with Jesus: “the world does not know us because it did not know Him.”
The vocation angle: The passage has a tone of consoling detachment. There is comfort in being a child of God, not concerned about the views of the world, but looking forward to a future transformation. When discerning a vocation, we should be peaceful, trusting that God will lead us because He is our good Father.
Gospel: John 10:11-18
Jesus is the Good Shepherd who knows His sheep. He lays down His life for them, and is raised up again.
The vocation angle: While all are called to imitate Christ, some are called to more closely imitate Jesus as the Good Shepherd. Priests and religious are not “hired help,” but rather, they give their whole lives to the Church, walking closely with all Catholics in the joys and trials of life. Those who are called to be shepherds must themselves learn to hear the voice of the Good Shepherd.
SIX ONE-LINERS FOR TALKING TO MEN ABOUT PRIESTHOOD
1. You might think you’re not holy enough to be a priest. But as Saint Padre Pio said, “You don’t have to be worthy; you just have to be willing.”
2. Every priest at some point said to himself, “I’m too attracted to women to become a priest.” But there are 400,000 priests in the world right now!
3. “I just fed 300 people with the Body and Blood of Jesus, and it’s not even ten o’clock in the morning yet. Can you believe that this is my job?!”
4. At the lavabo, to the altar servers, say quietly: “This is the best job in the world!”
5. While the servers are gathered, let a boy try on your chasuble, then say to the others, “Hey, that looks pretty good on him, doesn’t it?”
6. In a serious moment ask, “If Jesus Christ were calling you to be a priest, would you say yes?” Wait in silence for the response.
PRAYERS OF THE FAITHFUL
On this World Day of Prayer for Vocations, we pray for an increase in vocations to the priesthood, especially in places where priests are most needed. We pray to the Lord.
- That young people in our parish will not be afraid to make vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience if the Lord calls them. We pray to the Lord.
That campus ministers and youth ministers will encourage an openness to God’s call. We pray to the Lord.
For those who are having difficulty discerning their vocations, that the Holy Spirit give them wisdom and peace. We pray to the Lord.
That Christian parents will happily encourage their children to remain open to the priesthood or consecrated life. We pray to the Lord.
For deceased priests and religious from our parish and diocese, that the Good Shepherd will welcome them with open arms. We pray to the Lord.
TODAY IS WORLD DAY OF PRAYER FOR VOCATIONS
Today the Holy Father has asked all Catholic to intercede for vocations. Will you make a special effort to ask the Lord for more vocations to the priesthood and religious life?
• Pray for the priests who have ministered to you throughout your life, both living and dead.
• Keep our parish priests and deacons in prayer throughout the week.
• Encourage your children or grandchildren to consider a vocation as a priest or religious brother or sister.
• Pray a rosary for more young men and women in our diocese to respond to God’s call.
FOR SUNDAY, APRIL 25. Inspirational stories, awesome photos, and solid info on vocations, giving Catholics in the pew a fresh perspective on the priesthood and consecrated life. Stories include:
- Silicon Valley entrepreneur’s vocation story
- Guide for women discerning their vocations
- Ordained during the Pandemic
- A Retreat in Images book review
- Advice for parents to create a vocation-rich home environment
- Campus Conversion – religious brother’s vocation story
40¢ TO 10¢ WITH BULK DISCOUNTS.
RESOURCES FOR YOUTH
KIDS VOCATION WORKSHEET
Our Children’s Vocation Worksheets are used by hundreds of parishes and schools.
- Helps kids pray for people they know – priests, brothers, sisters, and married people.
- Includes a simple lesson plan for teachers on the back page.
- Original illustrations by fine artist Bernadette Carstensen
Or purchase grade-specific Vocation Worksheets for Pre-K, Grades 1-2, Grades 3-4, or Grades 5-6
ONLINE VERSION OF V-NIGHTS
FIVE VOCATION-THEMED YOUTH MINISTRY MEETINGS
Access the newly-updated guide to help youth ministers lead easy-to-prepare but super effective meetings, including:
• Vocation Movie Nights
• Discernment Holy Hour
• Saint Stories
• Ongoing Discernment Groups
YOUNG ADULT VOCATION DISCERNMENT GROUPS
Discernment groups for young adults are the single most effective short-term method for ushering men and women into seminary or religious formation.
Consider partnering with nearby parishes to run a priestly discernment group for men and a religious life discernment group for women.
Both groups are structured as book-study groups, with excellent books and ready-made discussion guides. Seven meetings per semester help participants dive deep into a “diligent discernment.”
Many thanks to OSV for underwriting the entire cost of Melchizedek Project materials.
PARISH COMMUNICATION ON VOCATIONS
PARISH WEBSITE CONTENT
Consider adding a special page about vocations to your parish website.
THE VOCATION BASICS
“Vocation” means “call.” As Catholics, we believe God calls individuals to fulfill certain roles in the Church, both for their own holiness, and the good of the entire Body of Christ.
Holiness is Our Common Goal
Holiness is everyone’s primary vocation. Holiness means trying to be like Jesus. It means being a “whole” person: striving for virtue, avoiding sin, and living a life of love.
After the decision to follow Christ and seriously pursue holiness, your vocation is the most important decision in life.
Most people are called to marriage—to wholeheartedly love their spouses and to joyfully welcome children. The purpose of marriage is for a man and woman to help each other get to heaven, and to teach their children to do the same. Like any vocation, marriage must be discerned, not assumed.
Both men and women can join religious orders such as the Franciscans, Dominicans, Benedictines, etc. The life and work of religious orders varies greatly—some are primarily devoted to prayer; others work actively in schools, hospitals, orphanages, etc. Common to all religious orders are the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.
Priests bring Jesus to people and people to Jesus through preaching and the sacraments. Priests are very active as they counsel people, teach classes, prepare homilies, administer parishes, and much more. Many surveys show that priests are among the happiest people in the world! Deacons, too, share in the sacrament of Holy Orders.
Dedicated Single Life
Some people serve God as single people, without marrying or making special vows. While not a “vocation” in a strict theological sense, single people “contribute greatly to the good of the human family” (CCC 2231). “Some live their situation in the spirit of the Beatitudes, serving God and neighbor in exemplary fashion” (CCC 1658). There are many single people who serve the Church with incredible generosity.
“Each of you has a personal vocation which He has given you for your own joy and sanctity. When a person is conquered by the fire of His gaze, no sacrifice seems too great to follow Him and give Him the best of ourselves. This is what the saints have always done, spreading the light of the Lord … and transforming the world into a welcoming home for everyone.” ~
How Parents Can Foster Vocations
Imagine asking your son what he wants to be when he grows up, and he answers, “I want to be a priest!” What would your reaction be? Would you be worried or elated—or somewhere in between?
The truth is that God has a plan for each of your children; he wants them to be happy even more than you do! And their true happiness is found in discovering God’s plan for their lives—their vocation—and following it wholeheartedly.
So if you’re truly concerned about your children’s well-being, it makes sense to help them discern their vocations, whether to marriage, priesthood, or religious life. Here are some simple ways to foster openness to God’s call.
1. Snuggle up and read a story. Sometimes the simplest ideas are best! Add some books about famous saints to your bedtime reading. There are dozens of fascinating, age-appropriate stories of saints who were priests and religious. There’s even a comic book about St. John Paul II as a child!
2. Watch a better movie. When it’s time for family movie night, take a pass on Spy Kids 4 and check out A Mission to Love (the life of St. John Bosco). There are tons of other Catholic films that depict heroic and interesting priests and religious. The conversation afterwards is far more meaningful than which explosion was the biggest!
3. Set the record straight. Media depictions of dating and sexuality are often opposed to authentic love. So when a TV show sends the wrong message, set the record straight about what leads to real happiness. Especially around teens, defend the sacrament of marriage.
4. Play dress up! Just as children “play house” and pretend to be moms and dads, help them imagine the life of a priest, brother, or sister. A sheet or towel can serve as a sister’s habit. A Ritz cracker makes a good host for Mass. This kind of play normalizes what can otherwise seem to be an “other-worldly” vocation. Plus it’s a lot of fun!
5. Pray from the heart. In your family prayers, pray for more priests and religious. Let your kids hear you praying for their futures. “Lord, watch over Simon today and give him the grace to grow up to be a strong man of God. Keep him close to You, always in Your perfect will.”
6. Talk about vocations. Speak openly about vocations to marriage, priesthood, and religious life. From the earliest age, make it clear that happiness in life is following God’s plan. Tell kids that priests have an awesome job because they bring us the sacraments. Teach them that religious brothers and sisters make special vows to live like Jesus.
7. Befriend priests & religious. Invite a priest, sister, or brother to dinner at your home. Personal relationships are key. When kids are comfortable around Fr. John or Sister Margaret, they’re far more likely to be comfortable with the idea of a priestly or religious vocation when they grow older.
An Open Attitude
If your child expresses interest in the priesthood or religious life, be supportive. If you’re excited, don’t push too hard. If you’re apprehensive, trust in God’s plan. The best thing you can say is, “Whatever God wants for you, I want for you, too.”
This content is from the brochure entitled “Seven Ways Families Can Foster Vocations” from Vianney Vocations. Also in Spanish
Joy Mixed with Reluctance
Many Catholic parents have some reluctance about their children becoming priests or religious—at least at first. Typically, parents’ concerns fade as they witness their child’s vocation mature, and his or her happiness grow.
Parents Speak Their Minds
“When my little boy plays Mass, it brings joy to my heart. His older sisters play along, even though they’re trying not to laugh. Who knows if he’ll ever be a priest? It’s just great that his little heart is in the right place. I love that.” ~ Amanda C.
“It almost broke my heart when Julie joined the convent. But when I visited her a year later, I could see the happiness and joy just radiating from her. My sadness melted away in an instant. I knew she had found her way in life. In retrospect, I’m glad my plans didn’t work out. As hard as it is for me to admit, God had a better plan for her.” ~ Carl R.
“Our son joined a religious order right after college. We were happy for him, but then he left, saying it just wasn’t his call. But I think it was good that he explored it… He was peaceful when he went in, and peaceful when he left. His mother and I are fine with his decision either way.” ~ Salvatore S.
“I wanted grandchildren so badly. I hid my disappointment when Colin went to seminary, thinking his interest probably wouldn’t last. By the time his ordination came along a few years later, God had really worked on me. I couldn’t have been prouder. His priesthood has been the greatest gift God has ever given our family.” ~ Jenni P.
Young Catholics: The Most Important Decision You’ll Ever Make
If you were about to make one decision that would dramatically impact the rest of your life, how would you go about it?
If you were contemplating a cross-country move, you’d probably learn everything you could about the new city. If you were choosing a career, you’d visit the career counseling office at your college. Heck, even if you were buying a new flat-screen TV, you’d do some serious research.
But there’s one decision that’s far more important than any of these. In fact, it’s so important that it can’t properly be called a decision.
We’re talking about your vocation—your God-given mission in life. God etches our vocations into our very souls, and thus a vocation is not just a matter of choice, like choosing a career, but rather more like a discovery. Finding your vocation is like realizing something about yourself that has been there all along.
But God plants your vocation so deep in your soul, sometimes it’s hard to see. In fact, many people—even Catholics—never even consider looking for it at all. Sometimes marriage is assumed to be the “default” vocation. But God calls some people to a different life—a life committed solely to serving God’s people as a priest.
Discovering your true vocation takes careful deliberation—a process the Church calls “discernment,” which is derived from the Latin word meaning to “sift through.” All vocations—marriage, priesthood, or the religious life—require a diligent discernment.
Here are ten tried-and-true ways to discern God’s calling for you:
- Pray and Listen asking the Lord daily to show you his will.
- Pray the Rosary asking for the intercession of Mary, Mother of priests.
- Pray a Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament regularly.
- Attend Mass frequently (daily if possible) and receive Communion.
- Go to Confession on a consistent basis.
- Read Scripture and meditate on God’s Word.
- Talk to a priest you find approachable and ask for spiritual advice.
- Contact the Vocation Director.
- Talk to seminarians when they come home for the holidays.
- Become involved in your parish.
These are practical ideas that really work. You’ll notice that by doing these things, not only will you hear God’s voice more clearly, you’ll begin to grow in holiness–which is everyone’s primary vocation.
But the best thing you can do to discover your vocation is to simply be open to the will of God. Stop asking what you want out of life, and start asking what God wants. Remember that Jesus wants you to be happy even more than you do. And if He calls you to priesthood, trust that He will bring you fulfillment.
Discerning your vocation—the state of life that God is calling you to for the rest of your life—is truly the most important discovery you’ll ever make.
For men discerning the priesthood, the best book to read is To Save a Thousand Souls: A Guide for Discerning a Vocation to Diocesan Priesthood, by Fr. Brett Brannen.
For women discerning religious life, the best book to read is Discerning Religious Life, by Mother Clare Matthiass, CFR.
For men discerning religious life, the best book to read is A Living Sacrifice, by Fr. Benedict Croell, O.P., and Fr. Benedict Hofer, O.P.
“BE NOT AFRAID!”
PROMOTING VOCATIONS DURING THE PANDEMIC
Renewing the Church by Inspiring Vocations
SOCIAL MEDIA GRAPHICS