On the blog A Priest Downunder,, there is a discussion on promoting vocations to the priesthood and to religious life. A discussion prompted by an address by the Holy Father.
A discussion centred on how we, as members of a parish community, as individuals , can encourage vocations to prosper.
” ‘Every Christian community, every member of the Church, needs consciously to feel responsibility for promoting vocations.’ What are we doing in our local area, our parish, our deanery, our school, to promote vocations?”
Last year, our parish women’s group devoted each first Thursday and each first Sunday to prayer for vocations.
And that is good.
However, I also think that we need to look at our actions and how these may help to prosper vocations.
There are a number of things I could discuss here but I will, instead , bring up a recent conversation between myself, my sons and a friend.
On why a priest only uses extraordinary ministers rarely, that is to say, in extraordinary circumstances, when needed.
Well, apart from the obvious statement re extraordinary , we talked about valuing and devaluing the role of the priest, of the religious.
You know, if the extraordinary minister (usually a woman ) serves at the time of communion of the faithful, instead of a religious, say, a Brother , who is also present at mass, what message does that send?
If the acolyte cleans the sacred vessels after Holy Communion and holds the relic for veneration and serves at communion, always, what message does that send?
I am not underplaying the role of the laity here. I understand the concept of the priesthood of believers.
However, it remains to be said that over use of laity and under use of religious, especially in the public liturgy of the Church, does tend to devalue the role of priests and religious. Young men in particular are less likely to look towards vocations … Not because they are not called but because they can serve in the Church, in ministries, in many instances undertaking that which the priest and religious can and should undertake, but without that final commitment.
It seems to me that one way to prosper vocations then, is to fully understand the role of priests and religious in our communities and in the liturgy, in the Church. To fully appreciate and value this role. To fully understand the contribution of lay people.
And to avoid the clericalization of the laity, to paraphrase Pope Benedict XVI.