VATICAN CITY, 4 JUL 2009 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father received the 120 participants in a European congress on the pastoral care of vocations which was held in Rome and focused on the theme: "The Gospel of vocation for young people in European culture". The Pope reminded them how "concern for vocations is one of the pastoral priorities for all dioceses, and assumes even greater importance in the context of the recently-inaugurated Year for Priests".
The parable of the sower was the focus of the work of the congress, in which context the Pope noted how "the sower scatters the seed of the Word of God, well aware that it may find inadequate soil that will not allow it to grow. ... Nonetheless, the sower does not lose heart, because he knows that part of his seed is destined to find 'good soil', in other words ardent hearts capable of giving a ready welcome to the Word".
"The image of the earth can evoke the situation of families, good or bad as it may be; the working environment, sometimes arid and harsh; days of suffering and tears", he said. "The earth is, above all, the heart of man, in particular that of the young: ... a heart often confused and disoriented yet capable of containing unexpected energy and capacity to give, ready to open itself to a life spent in love for Jesus ... with the certainty that comes from having found life's greatest treasure.
"It is always God and God alone Who sows in man's heart" the Pope added. "Only after the abundant and generous sowing of the Word of God can we then venture along the paths of accompaniment and education, of formation and discernment", he said. "Like Christ, the priest and the animator must be a 'grain of wheat' who sacrifices himself to do the Father's will; who knows how to live hidden from clamour and strife; who abandons the search for visibility and image which so often today are the criterion and even the goal of life for such a large part of our culture, and which fascinate so many young people".
"Be sowers of trust and hope", the Holy Father told his audience. "Many young people today often experience a profound sense of confusion. Not infrequently human words lack future and perspective, they lack also a sense of wisdom. An attitude of frenetic impatience is spreading, an inability to wait. And yet this could be the moment for God: His call, mediated by the force and effectiveness of the Word, generates a path of hope towards fullness of life".
Finally, turning to consider the figure of St. John Mary Vianney who "dedicated his life to the spiritual guidance of others", the Pope said: "The Year for Priests offers us a fine opportunity to rediscover a profound sense of vocational pastoral care, and of its fundamental methodologies. These are: simple and credible witness; shared and harmonious communion within each particular Church; educating people to follow the Lord in everyday life; listening guided by the Holy Spirit in order to direct young people in the search for God and for true happiness; and finally, truth, which is the only thing that can generate inner freedom".
AC/PASTORAL VOCATIONAL CARE/... VIS 20090706 (550)