Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Encouraging Younger Vocations

"The vocations crisis in this country will never be over until we regain the confidence to accept younger vocations". These words, spoken by a well-known former vocations director, now Vicar General of his diocese, have stuck with me.
To respond to a vocation is to give oneself in love. To be sure, many teenagers who 'fall in love' do not stay together and, indeed, that can be a good thing. We can learn a lot about ourselves and about the reality of love from these adolescent romances. But our relationship with God is quite different. For a start, it is a relationship that is supposed to start and never end no matter how young we are. Secondly, as that relationship grows we have to face up to only our own shortcomings - not God's!
As May approaches I can't help but reflect on the fact that Our Lady was very young when she responded to God's call. Her 'Yes' had dramatic consequences. It wasn't easy for her. Indeed, it led her to the Cross. The main point is that she was faithful. That's what God asks of us: fidelity.
Perhaps it was the sad exodus from the priesthood from the 1960s that led people to be hesitant about encouraging younger vocations. I hope it is a fear that can be left behind and that instead of responding nervously when a young man presents himself for the priesthood, we can rejoice at his generosity, and pray for his fidelity.

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