Silence and Praying for Vocations

01 April 2015

My dear people throughout the Archdiocese,

During April and beyond we rejoice in the Easter liturgical season.

There is always an economy of words in the Gospels. Important encounters with the risen Lord Jesus are often summarised into just a few sentences. The Easter encounter of Jesus with Mary Magdalene (John 20:16-17) comes to mind. It seems to be summarised into just three words: “Mary… Rabbuni… Go!”

Yet these Gospel passages, upon reflection, seem to be full of deep silences of recognition, mercy, faith and profound joy. What is not said seems as important as what is said.

In April we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday (second Sunday of Easter) and Good Shepherd Sunday (fourth Sunday of Easter). They illustrate deep mysteries of our faith. If we allow them, they silence us into even deeper reflections on the Almighty God’s AMAZING GRACE.

Let us focus now on Good Shepherd Sunday.

This year and thereafter we will focus this day on vocations to the priesthood and religious life. The Archdiocese is in great need of more vocations to the diocesan priesthood. In this year dedicated to Consecrated Life, we pray too for all religious vocations. A special collection will be taken up throughout the Archdiocese to help fund the education of diocesan seminarians.

When I ponder on my own vocation to the priesthood, I think of the deep silences I felt drawn to in my youth. I felt incredible peace in solitary places like empty churches and beautiful parks and gardens (even cemeteries!). I still do. In those earlier years I did not realise I was praying deeply. It was all God’s grace. Sometimes there were words and thoughts and readings (especially from the Bible). But most of the time for me it was simply being in God’s loving and silent presence. They were my ‘Mary Magdalene’ moments with the risen Jesus who whispered deeply in me: “Go!”

I am sure the same Holy Spirit is whispering in the hearts of many young people today a similar whispered invitation to the priesthood or religious life. Allowing all of us, especially the young, to be drawn to the silences of God is a wonderful way of promoting vocations. Yes – let there be words and spoken petitions. But let there be Godly silences too.

Are we really comfortable with Godly silences in today’s noisy and busy world? I am not so sure. But in this Easter let us try to be more comfortable in imitating Mary, the Mother of God, and “treasure and ponder” rather than gossip and complain! The Marian profile of prayer is surely a haven for vocations.

  • Practically, therefore, for the petition of vocations to the priesthood and religious life, let us:
  • Pay visits to the Blessed Sacrament in open churches;
  • Try giving priority to some quiet times in the morning and evening;
  • Encourage ritual silences during the Mass (for example, after the readings and Holy Communion);
  • Support meditation groups in our parishes.

We all benefited from listening in attentive silence to each other in the recent Archdiocesan Assembly on Marriage and Family Life. It made the time so special. The Holy Spirit was given an opportunity to speak to the listening heart within us all.

Let young people, particularly, listen deeply to the Holy Spirit in their lives. If you sense the fragrance of a vocation to the priesthood or religious life, do not be afraid. Pray in silence even more! Let the attracting power of Jesus draw you deeply to the place where the Holy Spirit is calling you.

I pray for you all daily. Please do the same for me.

God bless you and your families always.

Archbishop Christopher Prowse
Catholic Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn