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Archbishop’s August prayer intention: For a generous response to God’s call to the priesthood and religious life

In light of St. John Vianney’s feast day on Aug. 4, Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila’s August prayer intention is for a generous response to God’s call to the priesthood and religious life. 

“It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you” (Jn: 15-16). 

Aug. 4 is the feast of St. John-Marie Vianney, the Cure of Ars, the patron saint of priests in the universal church and patron of the diocesan seminary in the Archdiocese of Denver.  

The Cure of Ars, like all priests and religious consecrated to God, has been chosen by God. 

St. John Vianney once said, “If I were to meet a priest and an angel, I would greet the priest first and then the angel…. If there were no priests, the Passion and death of Jesus would serve no purpose. What use is a treasure chest full of gold if no one can unlock it? The priest has the key to the treasures of Heaven.” 

Where are the future priests and religious people? Without a doubt, they are among us, in our family and the families we know. God has already chosen them since their baptism, and God has a perfect and well-designed plan for each of us. We can know his plan by asking him in prayer. Once he reveals it, we must accept it and respond to him with generosity of heart. 

Many young people feel insecure or unworthy of God’s call to consecrated life. That is a trick of the Evil One who wants to separate us from God’s plan. Do not be afraid to respond to God; entering the seminary or the convent doesn’t imply ordination or profession of vows, but simply discerning and discovering the wonderful plan of God. No one is worthy of the call to consecrated life; rather, it is a grace bestowed by God that we do not deserve. 

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Every vocation is God’s choice, and the gospel says “It is I who chooses you” for a specific purpose, to bear lasting fruit. The Cure of Ars heard God’s call to the priesthood, and he responded and persevered despite many personal difficulties, limitations and rejections. It is important to understand and be convinced that the election to the priesthood and consecrated life is of God first, and not of men. 

Even today, Jesus is still choosing men for the priesthood. Even from an early age, God puts in the hearts of young people the desire to consecrate their lives to God. This desire must be nourished by personal prayer and family prayer and by motivation and encouragement from priests in their homilies. Families attending Mass must hear the importance of the call to consecrated life.  

Pope Benedict XVI said, “Unless they are taught to pray, our young people will never hear God calling them to establish a deeper relationship with Him and will not become part of the discipleship of the Church.” 

The crisis of vocations to the priesthood and religious life is due to the crisis of discipleship. In responding to the call to follow Christ, true disciples will also respond to the call to vocations to the priesthood and religious life. God calls us every day, but it is important to make intentional time for silence and prayer to listen to the voice of God, who chooses those he wants.        

Archbishop Aquila asks us to pray together with him this August for the increase in vocations to the priesthood and religious life. Let’s pray with our children, in our parishes and communities of faith, let’s pray for the intercession of the Holy Cure of Ars and the Blessed Virgin Mary, that our young people will give a generous response to God the Father who at the same time promises to respond to our petitions with fruitful and abundant life.   

“St. John-Marie Vianney, you loved God with all your heart and introduced God to your people. Through you, Ars and much of France were converted. Please pray for the youth, that they will be open to the ministry of priests and religious life receiving God’s Word and grace through them, offering them the love, support and respect due to them. I especially pray for the priests and religious people in my life. Pray that they become holy in imitation of Christ. St. John Vianney, pray for vocations. Jesus, I trust in You.”  (Prayer from Unknown author)  


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