On the Pope's Prayer Requests
Vocations and the Holy Land Trip
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Dear brothers and sisters:
I have just concluded, in St. Peter's Basilica, the Eucharistic celebration in which I consecrated 19 new priests of the Diocese of Rome. Once again, I have chosen this Sunday, the fourth of Easter, for this joyous event, because it is marked by the Gospel of the Good Shepherd (cf. John 10:1-18) and offers a particularly suitable context.
Because of this, today is celebrated the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. In my annual message for this occasion, I have invited reflection on the theme: "Faith in the Divine Initiative -- the Human Response." In fact, trust in the Lord, which continuously calls to sanctity and, for some in particular, to a special consecration, is expressed precisely in prayer. As much personally as in community, we have to pray a lot for vocations, so that the greatness and the beauty of the love of God attracts many to follow Christ on the path of the priesthood and the consecrated life.
It is also necessary to pray as well so that there are holy spouses, capable of indicating to their children, above all by example, the horizons to which they should tend toward with their liberty.
The men and women saints that the Church proposes for the veneration of all the faithful give witness to the mature fruit of this union between the divine call and the human response. Let us entrust to their heavenly intercession our prayer for vocations.
There is another intention for which I invite you to pray today: the trip to the Holy Land that I will make, God willing, next Friday, May 8 through Friday, May 15. Following the footsteps of my venerable predecessors Paul VI and John Paul II, I will go on pilgrimage to the principle holy places of our faith.
With my visit, I propose to confirm and encourage the Christians of the Holy Land, who must daily confront many difficulties. As a successor of the Apostle Peter, I will show the closeness and support of the whole body of the Church. Moreover, I will be a pilgrim of peace, in the name of the one God, Father of all. I will give witness to the Catholic Church's commitment in favor of those who work to practice dialogue and reconciliation, to arrive to a stable and lasting peace in justice and mutual respect.
Finally, this trip will necessarily have notable ecumenical and interreligious significance. Jerusalem is, from this point of view, the symbolic city par excellence: There Christ died so as to reunite all of the dispersed children of God (cf. John 11:52).
Addressing now the Virgin Mary, let us invoke her as Mother of the Good Shepherd so that she watches over the new priests of the Diocese of Rome, and so that in the whole world, numerous and holy vocations of special consecration to the Kingdom of God may flourish.
[Translation by ZENIT]
[The Holy Father then addressed the faithful in various languages. In English, he said:]
To all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for today's Regina Caeli, I extend a warm welcome. I pray that as you follow the voice of the Good Shepherd, you will grow ever closer to the Risen Lord and share his Gospel with all those you encounter. This Friday I leave for my pilgrimage to the Holy Land, where men and women first heard the voice of the Good Shepherd. I ask you all to join me in praying for the afflicted peoples of that region. In a special way I ask that you remember the Palestinian people who have endured great hardship and suffering. May the Lord bless them and all those who live in the Holy Land with the gifts of unity and peace. Upon all of you visiting Rome during this Easter Season, I invoke the abundant blessings of Almighty God.
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