"Vocations as a sign of hope founded in faith" - That is the theme for the 50th World Day of Prayer for Vocations set for this coming Sunday, April 21, 2013.
The theme was selected in October 2012 by Benedict XVI to coincide with the Year of Faith. The focus on vocations as a sign of hope, however, resonates well with the initial themes of Pope Francis' pontificate.
In his homily at the Mass of his Initiation of the Petrine Ministry, Pope Francis said, "Today too, amid so much darkness, we need to see the light of hope and to be men and women who bring hope to others."
Pope Francis' words echo closely the words of the Constitutions of the Congregation of Holy Cross: "[Jesus] has taken us into the mystery and the grace of this life that springs up from death. If we, like Him encounter and accept suffering in our discipleship, we will move without awkwardness among others who suffer. We must be men with hope to bring. There is no failure the Lord's love cannot reverse, no humiliation He cannot exchange for blessing, no anger He cannot dissolve, no routine He cannot transfigure. All is swallowed up in victory. He has nothing but gifts to offer. It remains only for us to find how even the cross can be borne as a gift" (8:118).
As Holy Cross priests and brothers, we strive to live our vocations founded in faith in God's faithfulness so that they can be these signs of hope for all who long for Good News in our world. "The face of every human being who suffers is for us the face of Jesus who mounted the cross to take the sting out of death. Ours must be the same cross and the same hope" (8:114).
From our own lives and the lives of the young men we are working with through our Office of Vocations, we know well that "today, too, Jesus continues to say, 'Come, follow me.'" He continues to invite young people to follow Him in the vocations to religious life and priesthood so they can be bearers of His Good News and His hope in our world.
These young people need our prayers and our encouragement, and so this Sunday we unite with the Universal Church in praying for vocations, including in the Congregation of Holy Cross. We invite you to join us in saying this prayer from the Congregation's "Directory of Devotional Prayer:"
Holy Mary, Our Lady of Holy Cross,
Your Son instructed his disciples to pray that the Lord of the harvest supply workers for the kingdom.
Faithful to Jesus' instruction we come to you, our mother and patroness, and beg you to intercede with your son for an increase of vocations to religious life in the Family of Holy Cross.
Confident that Holy Cross is not a human work but God's very own, and that Divine Providence has inspired and sustained our life in Holy Cross, we entrust our future to your maternal care.
As a woman of sorrow, whose heart was filled with compassion for those who suffer, pray that men and women of compassion will accept God's call to make God known, loved, and served through their life and ministry in the Family of Holy Cross.
Rev. Andrew Gawrych, C.S.C., is the Associate Director of theOffice of Vocations for the United States Province of the Congregation of Holy Cross. He is currently in Rome on special assignment. You can read more Holy Cross blogs on the Spes Unica blog.