Sunday, April 13, 2008

Pope: All Vocations Have Missionary Character

Says Married Couples Called to Live Gospel in Every Area

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 13, 2008 ( Vocation and mission are inseparable and the Church's many vocations should have an "intense missionary character," says Benedict XVI.

The Pope affirmed this today before he led the praying of the midday Regina Caeli with thousands gathered in St. Peter's Square. Today, the Fourth Sunday of Easter, focuses on Christ as the Good Shepherd and is also the World Day of Prayer for Vocations.

The Holy Father said that St. Paul, for whom "vocation and mission are inseparable," is a model for all Christians, particularly "those men and women who dedicate themselves totally to announcing Christ to those who still have not known him: a vocation which continues to maintain all of its validity."

"This missionary service is carried out, in the first place, by priests in offering the Word of God and the sacraments, and in manifesting the healing presence of Jesus Christ with their pastoral charity for everyone, above all for the ill, the little ones and the poor," Benedict XVI said. "We give thanks to God for these our brothers, who give themselves without reserve to pastoral ministry, sometimes sealing their fidelity to Christ with the sacrifice of their lives, as happened yesterday to two religious assassinated in Guinea and Kenya."

The Pontiff expressed his prayer that there would be "an increasing number of those who decide to radically live the Gospel through the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience -- men and women who have a primary role in evangelization."

"Some of them dedicate themselves to contemplation and prayer, others to a multifaceted educational and charitable work," he said. "All of them, nevertheless, are united in the same objective: to give witness to the primacy of God over all and to spread his Kingdom in every sphere of society."

Benedict XVI affirmed that those called to Christian marriage should also give their lives a missionary flavor.

He contended that "it mustn't be forgotten that Christian marriage is also a missionary vocation: The couple, in fact, is called to live the Gospel in the family, in the workplace and in parish and civil communities. In certain cases, moreover, they offer their valuable contribution to the missions 'ad gentes.'"

"Dear brothers and sisters," the Pope concluded, "let us invoke the maternal protection of Mary for the many vocations that exist in the Church so that they are developed with an intense missionary character. To her, Mother of the Church and Queen of Peace, I also commend the special missionary experience that I will live in the next few days with the apostolic trip to the United States and the visit to the United Nations, as I ask all of you to accompany me with your prayers."

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