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POPE-VOCATIONS Jan-16-2014 (400 words) xxxi

Vocations are calls to build up God's kingdom, pope says in message

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A vocation to the priesthood, consecrated life or marriage is a call to center one's life on Christ and build up his kingdom, Pope Francis said.

"The more we unite ourselves to Jesus through prayer, sacred Scripture, the Eucharist, the sacraments celebrated and lived in the church and in fraternity, the more there will grow in us the joy of cooperating with God in the service of the kingdom of mercy and truth, of justice and peace," the pope said in his message for the 2014 World Day of Prayer for Vocations.

All Christians are called to adore the Lord and allow the seed of his word to grow in their lives and be transformed into service of others, the pope said in the message for the day, which will be celebrated May 11 at the Vatican and in many dioceses around the world.

In his message, released at the Vatican Jan. 16, Pope Francis said that while God calls each person individually by name, "no vocation is born of itself or lives for itself."

"A vocation is a fruit that ripens in a well-cultivated field of mutual love that becomes mutual service," the pope said, and that takes place in the context of an authentic Christian community.

"A vocation flows from the heart of God and blossoms in the good soil of faithful people in the experience of fraternal love," he said. "Did not Jesus say: 'By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.'"

Following Christ, the pope said, means that sometimes a believer will have to go "against the tide" of the predominant culture, as well as overcome personal doubts and fears.

While some may be tempted to take the easy way out, Pope Francis said, "the true joy of those who are called consists in believing and experiencing that he, the Lord, is faithful and that with him we can walk, be disciples and witnesses of God's love, open our hearts to great ideals, to great things."

When in the Bible Jesus urges his followers to pray that God will send out laborers for the harvest -- a passage seen as a key support for praying for vocations -- Jesus also tells his disciples that "the harvest is plenty."

"Who did the work to bring about these results?" the pope asked. "There is only one answer: God."

- - -

Editor's Note: The text of the pope's message in English can be found here: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/francesco/messages/vocations/documents/papa-francesco_20140115_51-messaggio-giornata-mondiale-vocazioni_en.html

The text of the pope's message in Spanish can be found here: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/francesco/messages/vocations/documents/papa-francesco_20140115_51-messaggio-giornata-mondiale-vocazioni_sp.html

END


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