The Diocese of Erie Vocations Office is sponsoring a number of Holy Hours for Vocations at the beginning of November. We encourage your participation, and if you cannot participate in person, please join us in prayer during these hours. The Holy Hours are listed here:
• Nov. 3 at 7 p.m.—St. Mark Seminary, 429 E. Grandview Blvd., Erie (Bishop Lawrence Persico will participate in this evening. The communities of Mercyhurst Preparatory School, Cathedral Preparatory School and Villa Maria Academy are encouraged to participate in this event.)
• Nov. 3 at 7 p.m.—Kennedy Catholic High School, 2120 Shenango Valley Freeway, Hermitage
• Nov. 3 at 7 p.m.—Venango Catholic High School, 1505 West First St., Oil City
• Nov. 3 at 6:30 p.m.—DuBois Central Catholic High School, 200 Central Christian Road, DuBois
• Nov. 4 at 7 p.m.—St. Michael Church, 811 Chestnut St., Emlenton
Nov. 5 during school hours only—Elk County Catholic High School, 600 Maurus St., St. Marys
One of St. Benedict’s many famous sayings was “ora et labora”. This translates as “pray and work”. This is what we need to do for vocations – pray and work. There is no greater form of prayer than prayer involving the Eucharist.
The Eucharist teaches us lessons essential for our growing towards a vocation. I was privileged this week to host the first 40 Hours Devotion that my parish has held in anyone’s memory. For those of you who are unfamiliar with 40 Hours, it is essentially a prolonged time of Adoration over the course of 3 days. In the evening of each day, a solemn prayer service is held (often Evening Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours), and guest preachers are invited to speak. It is a powerful time of renewal in our love for Jesus Christ. It is an opportunity for a powerful renewal in our belief in the True Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.
Each night of the 40 Hours’ devotion, our preachers inspired us to a deeper faith. Fr. Justin Pino, our speaker for Sunday, challenged us to really treat the Eucharist as Jesus’ real Presence, and not as a symbol. He shared beautiful stories from his youth about how much the Sacrament meant to him. Our Tuesday speaker, Fr. Daniel Hoffman, shared a quote from a homily of the Cure of Ars, St. John Vianney. During the homily, St. John simply gestured at the Tabernacle with tears in his eyes, saying “he is there, he is there, he is there.” He also quoted a parishioner of St. John Vianney’s parish, who described Eucharistic Adoration by saying, “I look at Him, and He looks at me.” Fr. David Poulson gave a talk on Monday about Mary at Fatima. He referenced a vision by the three child visionaries of an angel, who held a host and a chalice in front of them. The Angel told the little visionaries Jacinta, Marta, and Francesco that we are called to do three things each time we go to Adoration. We are to:
1. Adore Jesus in His True Presence
2. Make an offering to him of our life and our prayers.
3. Make reparation for our sins and others’ sins.
These three attitudes are important for us to enter into the spirit of Eucharistic Adoration. Also, they prepare us for a vocation to the priesthood. For what is the priesthood but Adoration of the Lord? Priesthood is also an offering of our very lives, united with the Church’s sacrifice of the altar. Priesthood is reparation. Priests literally repair the sins of people through extending Jesus’ promise of forgiveness through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. If we can cultivate these three attitudes each time we adore Jesus in the Eucharist, and each time we receive Him at Mass, it can prepare us for a priestly vocation.
Each of us are called as Christians to be priests. Relatively few of us are called to the ministry of sacramental priesthood. But all of the baptized are called to be people of sacrifice. We are a people who do not merely accept the grace of God for our forgiveness, but a people who cooperates with the grace of God. We draw near to Jesus in the Eucharist so that we may really be one with Him, and with each other.
The obstacles to having seminarians and priests seem to be insurmountable. Indeed, much hard work needs to be done. That effort begins on our knees. Jesus will give us shepherds after his own heart, if we are open to His way! Please come and join us in any of these locations to pray for vocations to the Diocese of Erie. I end with the Bishop’s Prayer for Vocations, which I encourage everyone to pray daily:
Prayer for Vocations
Lord God, creator of all things and source of all gifts and talents, your Son came to this world to fulfill His vocation as the Redeemer of all humanity.
Grant the sons and daughters of the parishes of the Diocese of Erie a profound awareness of their own vocations. Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, may they come to realize their distinct place in your divine plan.
Give them the grace to recognize and the courage to pursue vocations as devoted priests, deacons and consecrated women and men to assist the Diocese of Erie in fulfilling her mission.
With the intercession of Saint Patrick, our patron, who preached the Gospel in word and deed, we pray that they may find happiness and fulfillment in a life of service to others.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Imprimatur, July 29, 2013
The Most Reverend Lawrence T. Persico, JCL
Bishop of Erie