04.jpgTHE ANNUAL WORLD Day of Prayer for Vocations, to be celebrated on Apr 29, is an appropriate occasion for highlighting the importance of vocations in the life and mission of the church, as well as for intensifying our prayer that they may increase in number and quality, said Pope Benedict XVI.

Referring to this year's theme "The vocation to the service of the church as communion", the pope said that the mission of the church is founded on an intimate and faithful communion with God, and the Eucharist is the source of that unity.

In order to foster vocations, it is important that pastoral activity be attentive to the mystery of the church as communion because whoever lives in an ecclesial community that is harmonious, co- responsible and conscientious, certainly learns more easily to discern the call of the Lord, Pope Benedict said. "The care of vocations, therefore, demands a constant education for listening to the voice of God."

According to the explicit command of the Lord, we must implore the gift of vocations, by praying untiringly and together to the "Lord of the harvest", he said. "If two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven (Mt 18:19)."

It is indispensable that every ministry and charism be directed to full communion, the pope continued, and it is the duty of the bishop and priests to promote this communion in harmony with every other church vocation and service. The consecrated life, too, is at the service of this communion, he stressed.

"At the centre of every Christian community is the Eucharist, the source and summit of the life of the church," Pope Benedict explained. "Whoever places himself at the service of the Gospel, if he lives the Eucharist, makes progress in love of God and neighbour and thus contributes to building the church as communion.

The pope also asked Catholics to turn to Mary to help the church in today's world to be an eloquent sign of divine love for all people.

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