Parents should take care not to block their son’s calling to the priesthood, new Vatican guidelines on promoting vocations say.
“Even though a sense of respect for the figure of the priest is cultivated in Christian families, it is still noticeable, especially in the West, that they have a certain difficulty in accepting that their child may have a vocation to the priesthood,” says the document, launched by the Congregation for Catholic Education on June 25.
The guidelines also identify other stumbling blocks to discerning a priestly vocation.
These include the spread of secularism, the marginalisation of the priest in social life “with consequent loss of his relevance in the public square”, a lack of appreciation of priestly celibacy (including by some Catholics), the fallout from Church scandals, and the bad example of some priests who exist in a “whirlpool of exaggerated activism” that can “weaken the shine of priestly witness”.
The document highlights the fruitfulness of families — which ideally would be an “initial seminary” — schools, parishes and movements rooted in prayer.
Priests are described as “crucial for openly suggesting priestly vocation to boys and young men”.
This role of openly suggesting a priestly vocation could also be undertaken by others in the parish and by current seminarians, since “no-one is better suited to evangelise young people than young people themselves”.
Among its many recommendations, the guidelines note that numerous priests were “part of the group of altar boys and have served at the altar” before going to seminary. It therefore suggests giving special attention to altar boys when promoting priestly vocations.
The document also calls for diocesan vocation offices to organise a so-called “invisible monastery” where large numbers of people are dedicated to providing non-stop prayer for priestly vocations.
Image: SS. John & Bernard Parish
News category: World.