Many years ago St. Pope John Paul II designated this Sunday as the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. Here at SSPP we pray after every Mass for vocations: for priests and deacons, for religious men and women, and for married and single people, too. We do that because all Christians have a vocation. We have a common vocation - that is, a call from God - to holiness. But the common vocation to holiness that God calls us to must be lived out in a definite way. For priests it means a certain way of living, for consecrated men and women (the religious life) it means another, and for single people and married people it means living faithfully according to those states of life. For all, the common goal is holiness - that is, a life in communion with God. There always remains a temptation to mediocrity - the easy way: “What’s the least I have to do to get into Heaven?” or “What’s the most I can get away with, and still avoid Hell?”
The example of St. Pope John Paul II has shaken us from this sort of spiritual lethargy. His life was a visible reminder of the sacrifice that is required from each authentic follower of Christ – and validation that the sacrifice is worth it. While affirming the truth that ALL of us are called to a life of holiness, the Church still demands a unique witness from her priests. Some people suggest that if we would ‘soften the sacrifice’ of the priesthood – by relaxing the rule of celibacy and ordaining married men – we would have many more priests. But that argument fails even on natural grounds. For example, why does the most difficult and disciplined branch of the military services – the Marine Corps – regularly fill its quota of enlistees when the other branches sometimes struggle to do so? Answer: because it is in the very heart of a young man to seek, and embrace, a challenge. Well, John Paul II understood that principle very well. He challenged young people to reject the selfishness of materialism, and to follow Christ. And the young people loved him. Most of the millions who flooded Rome after his death in 2005 were young people. To these same young people the Pope has entrusted the mission of the New Evangelization. What is that mission? To help each person follow Christ. To help each person be holy.
May God bless you!