MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS JOHN PAUL II FOR THE XVI WORLD DAY OF PRAYER FOR VOCATIONS (1979)
I am speaking in a special way to you, the young people. In fact I would like to talk with you, with each one of you. You are very dear to me and I have great confidence in you. I have called you the hope of the Church and my hope.
Let us remind ourselves of a few things together. In the treasure of the Gospel there are preserved the beautiful responses given to the Lord when he called. The response of Peter and Andrew his brother: “Immediately they left their nets and followed him” (Mt 4:20). The response of Levi the publican: “And he left everything, and rose and followed him” (Lk 5:28). The response of the Apostles: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (Jn 6:68). The response of Saul: “What shall I do, Lord?” (Acts 22:10). From the time when the Gospel was first proclaimed right up to our time, a very large number of men and women have given their personal response, their free and deliberate response, to the call of Christ. They have chosen the priesthood, the religious life, life in the Missions, as the reason for and the ideal of existence. They have served the People of God and humanity, with faith, intelligence, courage and love. Now it is time for you. It is up to you to respond. Are you afraid, perhaps?
Then let us reflect together, in the light of faith. Our life is a gift from God. We must do something good with it. There are many ways of living life well, using it for serving human and Christian ideals. My reason for speaking to you today about total dedication to God in the priesthood, in the religious life, in life as a missionary, is that Christ calls many from among you to this extraordinary adventure. He needs, and he wants to need, your persons, your intelligence, your energy, your faith, your love, your holiness. If it is to the priesthood that Christ is calling you, it is because he wishes to exercise his priesthood through your dedication and priestly mission. He wants to speak to the people of today through your voice. He wants to consecrate the Eucharist and forgive sins through you. He wants to live with your heart. He wants to help with your hands. He wants to save through your efforts. Think about it carefully. The response that many of you can give is given personally to Christ, who is calling you to these great things.
You will meet difficulties. Do you think perhaps that I do not know about them? I am telling you that love overcomes all difficulties. The true response to every vocation is the work of love. The response to the priestly, religious and missionary vocation can only spring from a deep love of Christ. He himself offers you this power of love, as a gift that is added to the gift of his call and makes your response possible. Trust in “him who by the power at work within us is able to do far more abundantly than all that we wish or think” (Eph 3:20). And, if you can, give your life, with joy and without fear, to him who first gave his for you.