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Pope's Message for 43rd Day of Prayer for Vocations

4/13/2006 - 6:00 AM PST

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"Weaknesses and Human Limits Do Not Present Obstacles "

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 13, 2006 (Zenit) - Here is the full text of Benedict XVI's message for the 43rd World Day of Prayer for Vocations, to be observed May 7.

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Vocation in the Mystery of the Church

Venerable Brethren in the Episcopate,
Dearest Brothers and Sisters,

The celebration of the coming World Day of Prayer for Vocations gives me the opportunity to invite the entire People of God to meditate the theme Vocation in the mystery of the Church. The Apostle Paul writes: "Blessed be God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ ... even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world ... He destined us in love to be his sons through Jesus Christ" (Ephesians 1:3-5). Before the creation of the world, before our coming into existence, the heavenly Father chose us personally, calling us to enter a filial relationship with Him, through Jesus, the Incarnate Word, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Dying for us, Jesus introduced us into the mystery of the Father's love, a love which completely embraces his Son and which He offers to all of us. In this way, united with Jesus, the Head, we form a sole body, the Church.

The weight of two millennia of history makes it difficult to grasp the novelty of this wonderful mystery of divine adoption, which is at the center of St. Paul's teaching. The Father, as the Apostle reminds us, "has made known to us the mystery of his will ..., as a plan to unite all things in him" (Ephesians 1:9-10). And he adds, with enthusiasm: "In everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brethren" (Romans 8:28-29).

The concept is indeed wonderful: We are called to live as brothers and sisters of Jesus, to feel that we are sons and daughters of the same Father. This is a gift that overturns every merely human idea and plan. The confession of the true faith opens wide our minds and hearts to the inexhaustible mystery of God, which permeates human existence. What should be said therefore of the temptation, which is very strong nowadays, to feel that we are self-sufficient to the point that we close ourselves to the mysterious plan of God for us? It is the love of the Father, which is revealed in the person of Christ, which puts this question to us.

In order to answer the call of God and start on our journey, it is not necessary to be already perfect. We know that the awareness of his own sin allowed the prodigal son to start on his return journey and thus feel the joy of reconciliation with the Father. Weaknesses and human limits do not present obstacles, as long as they help us to make us more aware of the fact that we need the redeeming grace of Christ. This is the experience of St. Paul who confessed: "I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me" (2 Corinthians 12:9). In the mystery of the Church, the mystical Body of Christ, the divine power of love changes the heart of man, making him able to communicate the love of God to his brethren. Down the centuries many men and women, transformed by divine love, have consecrated their own existences to the cause of the Kingdom.

Already on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, many allowed themselves to be conquered by Jesus: They were in search of healing in body or spirit, and they were touched by the power of his grace. Others were chosen personally by Him and became his apostles. We also find persons, like Mary Magdalene and other women, who followed him on their own initiative, simply out of love. Like the disciple John, they too found a special place in his heart. These men and women, who, through Jesus, knew the mystery of the love of the Father, represent the variety of vocations which have always been present in the Church. The model of one who is called to give witness in a particular manner to the love of God, is Mary, the Mother of Jesus, who, in her pilgrimage of faith, is directly associated with the mystery of the Incarnation and Redemption.

In Christ, the Head of the Church, which is his Body, all Christians form "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him" (1 Peter 2:9). The Church is holy, even if her members need to be purified, in order that holiness, which is a gift of God, can shine in them with its full splendor. The Second Vatican Council highlights the universal call to holiness, when it affirms: "The followers of Christ are called by God, not because of their works, but according to his own purpose and grace. They are justified in the Lord Jesus, because in the Baptism of faith they truly become sons of God and sharers in the divine ...

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