Fittingly, this Sunday will be the conclusion for the annual Young Men’s Discernment retreat. It is fitting, because, even though it falls on a Sunday this year, 4 August is the liturgical memorial of St. John Marie Vianney, the patron saint of priests. It is a good reminder that we ought often to pray for the priests we do have, and also to pray for more men to respond to the priestly vocation given by God. Recall that our Lord even commanded us to do so: “Ask the Master of the harvest to send out laborer for the vineyard” (Lk. 10:2). In this regard, Ven. Fulton Sheen, in The Priest Is Not His Own, said:
“Why did Our Lord, when He spoke of vocations, single out precisely the word pray? Because prayer is the expression of the Christian community and the yearning of the Church. As the Church gets the kind of pope she deserves, so she gets the kind and number of priests she deserves. Why do some countries have so many vocations? Because the Catholic people of these countries, rich in their faith, want priests, and they pray to be given the priests they want. Why do some countries have so few? Because few people, even few parents, pray for priests. “Ask, and the gift will come” (Lk 11:9). Can we hope to receive if we do not ask? There are probably hundreds of thousands of vocations hanging from heaven on silken cords; prayer is the sword that cuts them. The laborers are available potentially in the heart of Christ; it is our petitions that actualize them. “And I was never consulted?” (Is 30:2).
Are there prayers in church for vocations? Do mothers pray for vocations for their children? Do the faithful pray the Lord “to send laborers out for the harvesting” (Mt 9:38)? Do schoolchildren pray for the call of God?
What the Christian community wants ardently, the Lord of the harvest will grant. That is why Our Lord told us to pray. […] Prayer in the Church is alone primary; publicity and its methods are secondary. The search for vocations begins on our knees.”
We must pray for priestly vocations, then, even daily! Pray through the intercession of St. John Marie Vianney and Ven. Fulton Sheen. And if you are considering answering this call, do not hesitate: the priesthood, despite the attacks against it, is a glorious thing and so very worth it.
Lord, grant us good and holy priests! -Fr. Keller