Last Wednesday, I was preparing a prayer meeting which took its reading from the coming Sunday's Gospel. It was a reading about the Good Shepherd. After a round of reflection about the various elements and characters of that Gospel reading (such as Christ as the Door and the Shepherd, the gatekeeper (who do you think He is?), listening to the true voice of the Shepherd, and being a sheep and being a sheepdog to each other!), one of us reminded us that this Sunday is also the 'vocation Sunday'.
"I am reluctant to pray for vocation this Sunday," he shared. He went on to share the dire state of the Church from the way he saw mass attendance and therefore how unsurprising it is to experience a 'drought' in the number of those entering the priesthood in Singapore. Is Latin mass the answer? Is having a smaller, but more devoted Church the answer? Should we 'let go' those who are not really interested to be in Mass, especially those who come dressed in beach attire and teenagers looking bored "as if they are doing God a favor by attending Mass"?
I expressed my optimism in the future of the Church, from what I see, hear and experience around my own friends and my trip to WYD in Cologne last year. I have encountered people, my age and younger and slightly older, who take their faith seriously enough to commit their lives to celibacy for studying and reflecting on the Word and to serve the community! I have encountered young people who pick up Latin in order to experience the unity of the universal Church and understand better her beautiful liturgies. I have encountered young people who read the CCC because they want to understand the Church and their faith more than what meagre catechism lessons offer them. I have encountered young people who believe and staunchly defend the Church's teachings on the sanctity of life from conception until natural death. I have encountered many, many young priests and seminarians during the WYD and also young people who have entered the seminary after the WYD. Rejoice, for it is springtime, indeed!
Easter time is time to be joyful and hopeful. It is not enough to pray for vocations only on Good Shepherd Sunday every year, I told him. We do not pray for vocations only to happen to somebody else, or somebody else's sons. We do not only pray just so that 'suitably prepared' young men and women 'fall' into religious vocations. We pray that God may use us as instruments to prepare better environment ('more fertile ground') to groom future holy priests and religious, and also to find vocations in our secular lives! Amen.
Everyone has something to do for God—Pope John Paul II the Great
PS: Here are three videos I found on YouTube that promotes priesthood by two seminaries & one for consecrated women. The second one especially struck me how these young seminarians aspire to be holy, and how joyful and genuine is their testimony to serve God's call.
Christ the King Seminary
Legionaries of Christ
And lastly, Consecrated Women of Regnum Christi,
(Now, I think Singapore's seminaries could also make similar videos; but more prayers and actions are required to make our grounds more 'fertile' to answer the calling of God!)