Tired of (Only) Praying for Vocations

I am tired of praying for vocations … only. I mean, tired of only praying vocations.

Don’t get me wrong. We need to pray for vocations. After all, Jesus himself told us to do so. “The harvest is abundant. Laborers are few. Ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for the harvest” (Mt 9:37-38).

But if all we do is pray to God, if all we do is ask God, that won’t cut it. Not that God cannot grant what we ask and He wills. But doesn’t prayer suppose some work on the part of those asking?

I was raised in an era when parents were still happy if their son came to them and shared with them his desire to be a doctor, lawyer, or priest. A time when brothers and sisters expressed pride to have a sibling enter the convent to prepare to be a religious sister or brother. A time when the Church and those associated with it were respected by almost all in society. We all know that this is no longer the case.

So we need to not only ask God for vocations. We must also act by asking young men and women if they have ever considered a vocation of service in the Church.

“Did you ever think about becoming a priest?”

“Did you ever think about becoming a religious brother or sister?”

It is as direct and simple as that. Any interest whatsoever needs to be encouraged. It also needs to be supported because saying yes today to those questions comes with challenges that didn’t exist even a couple of decades ago.

Why do we not ask? Is it something about which we ourselves have doubts? Do our own fears about what someone else’s “Yes” would mean for us inhibit us?

Jesus tells the parable about the landowner who went in search of day laborers. “Why are you standing around here all day and not working?” They answered, “No one has asked us” (Mt 20:6-7).

The landowner’s prayer before breakfast that morning may very well have been a prayer to find workers. But he didn’t wait for them to come to him. He went out to them.

More of us, many of us, all of us must pray for vocations. But all of us also need to act like that landowner and make it our work to ask. And then encourage further discernment and lend support.

By Monsignor Thomas Orsulak, Pastor of St. Peter the Apostle, Reading, and Regional Priest Coordinator of Hispanic Ministry for Berks, Carbon, and Schuylkill deaneries.


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