World Day of Prayer for Vocations always falls on the fourth Sunday of Easter, which is also called Good Shepherd Sunday because of the Gospel readings.
In 2014, May 11 also happens to be Mother’s Day. How can we celebrate these two important days together in a harmonious way?
We can start by remembering the words of Pope St. Pius X, “Every vocation to the priesthood comes from the heart of God, but it passes through the heart of a mother.”
Pope Francis’s Mother Surprised by His Vocation
In an interview for a Spanish-language newspaper, Pope Francis’s only living sibling, María Elena Bergoglio, recounts how their mother discovered he was interested in the priesthood.
At age 19, young Jorge Bergoglio initially felt that he wanted to study medicine. Wanting him to have a quiet place to study, his mother prepared a special room for him by cleaning out a cluttered room on the family’s terrace.
One day, the future pope’s mom entered the room to clean it. But she ran into a surprise: books of theology.
The pope’s sister, the only one of his five siblings still alive, recounted the conversation between mother and son:
“Jorge, come here. You told me that you were going to study medicine.”
“Why did you lie to me?”
“No, I did not lie to you mother; I am going to study the medicine of the soul.”
Surprised by the news, his mother wept, because she understood he would have to leave home to study. His father, however, rejoiced in his son’s vocation.
Eventually the entire family embraced his call to the priesthood. Jorge Bergoglio was ordained a priest in in 1969 and elected Pope in 2013.
Pope Saint Pius X Kisses His Mother’s Wedding Ring
Pope Pius X was a very humble man and had a saintly mother. Because they were so poor, she worked as a washer woman and a school janitor to earn enough money so that he could go to the seminary. (In those days, the family had to pay for the seminarian’s education.)
When elected pope, he was embarrassed and uncomfortable with the pomp and circumstance of the office. “Look how they have dressed me up,” he lamented to a friend.
His mother was also present at his installation and kissed his large papal ring, as is the custom. She then presented her tiny hand with her wedding ring and said, “Now you kiss my ring—for without it, you never would have received yours!”
On this World Day of Prayer for Vocations, let’s fervently pray not just that young people to hear the Lord’s voice, but that their parents happily support & encourage them as they respond to His call.
Mary, Mother of Vocations
“Every aspect of priestly formation can be referred to Mary, the human being who has responded better than any other to God’s call. Mary became both the servant and the disciple of the Word to the point of conceiving, in her heart and in her flesh, the Word made man, so as to give him to mankind. Mary was called to educate the one Eternal Priest, who became docile and subject to her motherly authority. With her example and intercession the Blessed Virgin keeps vigilant watch over the growth of vocations and priestly life in the Church.”
Pope John Paul II, I Will Give You Shepherds
Additional resources for World Day of Prayer for Vocations can be found at the US Bishop’s web site.