MAY 22, 2011, Vol 61, No 10

From Abraham to Peter, Andrew, James, and John to the disciples on the road to Emmaus and extending to us, Scripture reveals that nothing is so life changing as the call that originates in God.

THE most basic meaning of vocation is not defined by any specific role or function but is something far greater, something written on a vast canvas. It is pure gift, with God as its author and life as its subject.

This call is not first and foremost to a particular role in life but more – it is a call to seek the face of God, a call to holiness and the fullness of life itself. This is the endpoint of the biblical quest: to see the face of God and live. It is for this that we are called, all of us as part of the human family, and surely all of us as part of the Church.

“Call” is not peripheral to Scripture but essential to the Bible’s understanding of human existence before God.

Who can forget in the opening chapters of Mark and Matthew’s Gospels those encounters by the Sea of Galilee?

Fishermen Simon and Andrew casting their nets in the sea; James, son of Zebedee, and John his brother, sitting in their boat mending their nets – they have no inkling of what is about to happen to them, something that will change their lives forever. Jesus, walking by the sea, calls to them, “Come, follow me and I will make you fish for people” (Mark 1:16-20).

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

The 48th World Day of Prayer for Vocations, to be celebrated on 15 May 2011, the Fourth Sunday of Easter, invites us to reflect on the theme: “Proposing Vocations in the Local Church”. Seventy years ago, Venerable Pius XII established the Pontifical Work of Priestly Vocations. Similar bodies, led by priests and members of the lay faithful, were subsequently established by Bishops in many dioceses as a response to the call of the Good Shepherd who, “when he saw the crowds, had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd”, and went on to say: “The harvest is plentiful but the labourers are few. Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest!” (Mt 9:36-38).

The work of carefully encouraging and supporting vocations finds a radiant source of inspiration in those places in the Gospel where Jesus calls his disciples to follow him and trains them with love and care. We should pay close attention to the way that Jesus called his closest associates to proclaim the Kingdom of God (cf. Lk 10:9). In the first place, it is clear that the first thing he did was to pray for them: before calling them, Jesus spent the night alone in prayer, listening to the will of the Father (cf. Lk 6:12) in a spirit of interior detachment from mundane concerns. It is Jesus’ intimate conversation with the Father which results in the calling of his disciples.
During Holy Week, I believe all churches in Singapore were filled to capacity.

I have seen many “choping” or reserving seats for their relatives or friends, using handbags and tissue packets.

When I approached them, many said the person went to the toilet. Others said their friends were on the way.

We practise “choping” seats when we are at foodcourt, now the habit appears to have come into the Church.

John Wee, Singapore

Pope Benedict XVI prays at the casket of Pope John Paul II in front of the main altar in St Peter’s Basilica on May 1. A US biographer says the late pontiff’s legacy will endure for generations. CNS photo

VATICAN CITY – Pope John Paul II deeply influenced generations of Catholics who knew him in life, but his most enduring legacy – his teaching – is something that will continue to impact the Church for centuries, a US biographer of the late pope said.

“It’s going to be several hundred years before the Church really takes on board the breadth and depth of this man’s explication of the Gospel, and in that sense we’re going to be thinking, and arguing, about John Paul II for hundreds of years,” said George Weigel, author of the papal biographies “Witness To Hope” and “The End And The Beginning”.

Weigel said that six years after the pope’s death, his connection with young people continues to bear fruit in many ways: in priesthood vocations over the last decade, in women’s Religious orders inspired by him and in renewal movements.

“I look at my own parish in suburban Washington and see young couples raising Catholic families, who all took some form of inspiration from John Paul II. And I suspect this is replicated all over the world,” he said in an interview four days before the beatification.
More than 1 million people gathered in and around the Vatican for ceremonies to mark the late pope’s beatification

A Swiss Guard stands to attention as Pope Benedict XVI celebrates the beatification Mass for the late Pope John Paul II in St Peter’s Square.

VATICAN CITY – Pope John Paul II was a true believer, a courageous voice of truth, said Pope Benedict XVI during the beatification ceremony for the late pope.

“John Paul II is blessed because of his faith – a strong, generous and apostolic faith,” Pope Benedict said on May 1 just minutes after formally beatifying his predecessor.

Pope Benedict said that after a consultation with many bishops and faithful and a study by the Congregation for Saints’ Causes, he had decided that “the venerable servant of God, John Paul II, pope, henceforth will be called Blessed” and his feast will be Oct 22, the anniversary of the inauguration of his pontificate in 1978.

Italian police said that for the beatification Mass, more than 1 million people gathered in and around the Vatican, and in front of large video screens in several parts of Rome. The next morning 60,000 people gathered in St Peter’s Square for a Mass in thanksgiving for the beatification.

Pope Benedict ended his homily sharing his own personal story.