By Father Alex Zenthoefer
Special to The Message
Editor’s note: National Vocations Awareness Week is Nov. 3-9. We thank Father Alex for sharing this wonderful reflection.
To you, dear young people, who desire something great in life; to you who are dissatisfied by the passing pleasures of our culture and desire something more: be courageous and do not allow your search for greatness to be reduced to something less. Resist the temptation to distract yourself; put yourself in front of the Presence of God so that you can hear more readily his call to follow. Practice now the sacrificial love that may be asked of you as a priest or religious sister or brother by putting the needs of others before your own preferences. Begin now to respect the dignity of others so that should God call you to marriage you might be more disposed to lay down your life to safeguard the dignity of your spouse. Dear young people, listen to the voice of God who desires your happiness and who wants to show you what authentic greatness looks like.
To you, mothers and fathers, who want what is best for your children; to you who have already sacrificed much so that they can know they are loved and be equipped to embrace the full adventure of life: let God speak to them. As much as you desire their happiness, God desires it far more and knows the path that will lead them there. Practice letting go now so that when the Lord calls them to marriage they may fully embrace the one God has chosen for them. Deepen in your heart a love for Jesus Christ, so that should God call your son or daughter to the priesthood or religious life, you will know the One they are seeking to serve. Be courageous enough to let your child follow Christ: do not manipulate them or control them, but trust that the Holy Spirit will remain with them. Dear parents, confront your own loneliness or grief so that it does not spill out into the heart of your children.
To you, dear grandparents, who have been formed by the wisdom of time; to you who see from a greater distance the work of God through history: be witnesses of God’s mercy. Allow the scars and triumphs from your life experience to be signs of God’s tenderness and his constant care. Let your grandchildren see in you models of patience and humility so that when God calls them to service in the Church they may imitate what they have seen in you. May the love you have for your spouse or the memories you share of them inspire your grandchildren to love courageously and selflessly should God call them to marriage. May the stability of your life help them establish an order to their own lives that will carry them through moments of turbulence should God call them to priesthood or religious life. Dear grandparents, do not underestimate the value of your witness of faith: your greatest legacy will be your love for the Giver of all life.
To you, dear priests and religious, who have responded to the work of God in your heart; to you who have discovered him in the depths of your heart and have cared for him in the wounds of his people: be steadfast. Allow your struggles to be an offering to God and his people; allow your natural abilities to be made greater by the power of grace; wash your fear and frustrations in his Precious Blood – transforming them into certainty and hope. Love your people and be men and women of communion, aware that your vocation is not your own, but finds its truest expression in the Body of Christ. Share your pain and your joys, not because they are impressive, but because they are true. Dear priests and religious, be sincere with your humanity so that Truth himself might be made visible in the light of your eyes.
To you, Mother of God and Mother of the Church, embrace us and lead us to your Son in whom alone true joy can be found.
Father Alex serves as Vocation Director of the Diocese of Evansville and Pastor of Annunciation Parish in Evansville.