Those of you who were with me at the eleven o’clock Mass last week heard my little exhortation at the end of Mass. I got rather caught up in the moment, and the Spirit, after such a beautiful Mass on such a splendid holy day, celebrating the descent of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, and the birth of the Church.
Imagine what a change Pentecost signaled in the lives of the Apostles, who themselves did not yet realize what it meant to have been sent, sent to bring the good news! It was also the anniversary of a great change in my life, my ordination, as many of you graciously remembered and mentioned. I was moved by the power of the sacred liturgy and the significance of the date, and rejoiced to the very core of my being that I am a priest by the grace of Jesus Christ, the mercy of God the Father, and in the power of the Holy Spirit. It is an overwhelming reality of which I rarely allow myself to be fully conscious.
But when the announcement came up for our Holy Hour for vocations, it really struck me how much help we need to find our way to follow the vocations that Christ has for us, especially for us whom He calls to be priests.
There are thousands of good reasons not to respond to His call, and thousands more not so good, and all of them are shouted and pounded into our lives by so many voices and faces that surround us. Many of them well up from within ourselves, and our selfishness. And we dare not pretend that it is Christ alone who is calling to us; our enemy, the accuser, is singing his sweet, tempting song in our ear as well, calling us in another, any other, direction.
Which is why I got so wound up about the Holy Hour. Please come! Please pray! I know it is Memorial Day weekend, and everybody has a lot planned, and activities and travels and parties. But why cannot prayer be one of those activities?
Come to the Holy Hour, Sunday evening, eight to nine. Come some other time during the vigil, which starts at six. If you are with someone, bring them, too. If you are doing something, take a break, and resume later. You don’t have to go to work or school the next morning.
If you can’t come here, then set aside an hour for prayer some other time, some other place, this week. Give an hour of your time and prayer for someone who is afraid to follow Christ’s call, someone who is trying, but confronting obstacles or challenges. Pray for someone who has a vocation, but whose own family is opposed to his following it! Pray for the young man who will be the priest you need twenty-five years from now, or your child will need, even later.
I realize with gratitude that I was helped by the prayers of many a generous soul, often unknown to me, who brought me to the moment of ordination. Still today, I am grateful for prayers, your prayers, and your encouragement, as I continue to learn what it means to have been touched by the Holy Spirit, and sent, sent to bring the good news.