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Committed for Sacred Vocations

During the month of June for many years the Polish National Catholic Church turns its attention to Sacred Vocations.  It is in this month that we celebrate Father’s Day, and in acknowledgement of this day the Church also realizes that, as each of us has an earthly father, there are also spiritual fathers within our lives, especially the bishops, priests and deacons of our Holy Church.

As we have now just celebrated the Solemnity of Corpus Christi within the catholic world, we acknowledge that the Holy Eucharist, given to the Church and to each of us by our Lord Jesus Christ, is of utmost importance in our lives.  The original Declaration of Utrecht and the subsequent Declaration of Scranton includes a section on the importance of the Eucharist: “Considering that the Holy Eucharist has always been the true central point of Catholic worship, we consider it our duty to declare that we maintain with perfect fidelity the ancient Catholic doctrine concerning the Sacrament of the Altar, by believing that we receive the Body and the Blood of our Savior Jesus Christ under the species of bread and wine.  The Eucharistic celebration in the Church is neither a continual repetition nor a renewal of the expiatory sacrifice which Jesus offered once for all upon the Cross, but it is a sacrifice because it is the perpetual commemoration of the sacrifice offered upon the Cross, and it is the act by which we represent upon earth and appropriate to ourselves the one offering which Jesus Christ makes in Heaven, according to the Epistle to the Hebrews IX:11,12, for the salvation of redeemed humanity, by appearing for us in the presence of God (Heb IX:24).  The character of the Holy Eucharist being thus understood, it is at the same time a sacrificial feast, by means of which the faithful, in receiving the Body and the Blood of our Savior, enter into communion with one another (I Cor. X:17)”

We see within this extended citation that the Holy Eucharist is so very much the focus of the Church and so very important within our lives.  And of course we also realize that our Lord Jesus Christ gives us all that is necessary for us to participate in this wonderful communion and that this includes the priesthood.  Our Lord Jesus Christ calls men today as He called the first Apostles to be with the Lord Himself as they were at the Last Supper.

As you may have noticed above, the title of this article is not “Committed to Sacred Vocations” but rather “Committed for Sacred Vocations.”  We already know that the Church and hopefully all of its members are committed to Sacred Vocations.  First and foremost this is because of what was stated above, that the Church is the community which gathers to celebrate the Eucharist; it is that community which follows the words of Jesus to “Do this is memory of Me,” knowing full well that this requires the priesthood.  And of course we, as the people of the Church today, also know that this celebration of the Eucharist, while of prime importance, is only one of the many roles of the clergy of the Church.  The bishops, priests and deacons guide us all through the many joyous and difficult times in our lives.  They teach young children the importance of the ways of God in the world and the life of Jesus Christ through catechetical and School of Christian Living classes.  They prepare us for and stand with us during the important events such as weddings, baptisms, First Holy Communions and Confirmations, always reminding us that these events are not only for us as individuals alone, but are celebrations of the entire community of faith.  The clergy are with us during the darkest moments of our lives, in times of sickness and death, bringing us the loving consolation of God and reminding us that God never abandons us but rather walks with us at all times.  So we see in all this that the Church and its members are certainly committed ‘to’ Sacred Vocations, because each of us receives so very much through these bishops, priests and deacons.  The Church must be committed ‘to’ Sacred Vocations because without them there would be no church.  But the question still remains, are we committed ‘for’ Sacred Vocations?

The reality of the Church today is the position that was described by our Lord in the Gospel of Matthew: “At the sight of the crowds, [Jesus’] heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd.  Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest is abundant but the labors are few; so ask the Master of the Harvest to send out laborers for His harvest.’” (Matthew 9:35-38)  First we notice that this admonition of Jesus is directed to the disciples, to those that are already the followers of Jesus.  So then while the Master of the Harvest still calls men to serve in His vineyard, it is the work of the disciples to continue to pray and to ask.  So the task of prayer for and seeking of Sacred Vocations falls to the members of the Church today.

First of all we must focus on our life of prayer.  I encourage every individual and parish of the Church to pray for the increase of Sacred Vocations.  There can certainly be many ways in which to do this.  The Sacred Vocations Commission has provided intercessions to be prayed during the celebration of Holy Mass for each Sunday of the liturgical year.  But this is only a start; I also offer the following two prayers taken from the P.N.C.C. Prayerbook.  I also encourage that these prayers be said, not only privately, but together so that each family, and especially the young members of the Church, may understand the importance of Sacred Vocations.  We all must realize the respect that the Church must have for those who have offered their lives to the service of God in Sacred Vocations.

For the Church

Almighty and eternal God, You have called us to serve You through the Polish National Catholic Church.  Hear our prayer for the Prime Bishop, the Bishops, Priests, Deacons and faithful of our Holy Church.  May Your gifts and blessings strengthen our resolve to serve You and by example bring others into the Mystical Body of Christ.  May all that we do be for the glory of Your Name and the salvation of Your people.  By our faithful witness and service may we eventually be received into Your eternal kingdom.  Through Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen.

For the Clergy

Lord Jesus, Great High Priest and Eternal Shepherd, for the building and expansion of Your Kingdom You have called forth men to apostolic orders to serve in Your Church.  By the grace of the Holy Spirit strengthen the Prime Bishop, Bishops, Priests and Deacons.  Endue them with the gifts of wisdom, understanding and knowledge; guide them with Your counsel, give them strength to fulfill their ministry.  Fill them with the spirit of piety and the fear of the Lord so they can be true witnesses of Your Gospel.  When the time should come for them to cross the threshold of life, receive them into Your heavenly kingdom.  Through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

I also ask the members of the Church to always be seeking those men who might have a Sacred Vocation to the diaconate or priesthood.  Do you know an altar boy who seems to have a special devotion while serving at the altar?  Do you know a gentleman who seems to have a strong sense of piety while praying  in Church?  Do you know a man within your parish who is always of service when called upon, or is especially active in a parish Bible study?  If this is the case, first pray, but also make mention of what you see in that person to them and also to your parish pastor.  In this way our concerted effort of prayer can spread and also that gentleman may begin to consider more seriously a Sacred Vocation.

Likewise the Church must also be a place where Sacred Vocations are talked about in a positive and joyous way.  When we are speaking to our sons or to other young men within our circle of friends within the parish, do we even consider a Sacred Vocation as a viable option?  Do we remark of the importance that a priest or deacon has had within each of our lives or within the lives of our families?  Do we talk about the respect that the Church and each family has for these men who have answered the call to a Sacred Vocation and given their lives in service?

In all of these ways we must remind ourselves that we need to be committed ‘for’ Sacred Vocations. Every member of the Church must realize that in a very strong way, the future life of the Church lies in their hands.  We must be committed for Sacred Vocations because we are committed to the celebration of the Eucharist where we meet the Lord Jesus and are united to Him and each other.  We must be committed for priests and deacons who will extend to each of us and the entire Church the love and mercy of Jesus Christ Who desires to be with every member of the Church.  We must be committed for Sacred Vocations because it is through them that we can fully participate in the worship of Almighty God and that we can receive the Lord Jesus Who is active and present in our lives.

In this Year of Commitment, let each of us make sure that Sacred Vocations are a priority of this commitment.  Let us all realize the vital importance of the bishops, priests and deacons within our Holy Church and within each of our lives; and in response let us pray to the Master of the Harvest to send laborers into the Lord’s vineyard, but let us also realize that each of us are a part of the fulfillment of this prayer.  In addressing this prayer to the Lord to call men to serve in His kingdom, let us recognize that it is also our commitment, our prayer and our actions for Sacred Vocations that will help to answer this prayer.

I wish all of my brother bishops, my brother priests and deacons a joyous Father’s Day and pray that they will all continue to be kept within the love of God and in the protective care of the members of the Church.

 

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