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Sunday, January 25, 2009

"Vocation week is time to pray, ponder one’s call"

From Intermountain Catholic
by Priscilla Cabral

Photo at left: Father Colin F. Bircumshaw , Director of Vocations and Most Rev. John C. Wester, bishop of the Diocese of Salt Lake City kneel before the Blessed Sacrament while its being exposed for Evening of Prayer with Benediction at the Cathedral of the Madeleine Jan. 11. Evening Prayer with Benediction was part of the National Vocation Awareness week, which has been observed since 1976, when the National Conference of Catholic Bishops established it. IC photo by Priscilla Cabral

SALT LAKE CITY — National Vocation Awareness Week is Jan. 11 – 17, 2009, starting on the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. During this period, Catholics are called to pray especially for an increase in vocations to religious life and the priesthood, and to ponder the call to follow Jesus received at their baptisms.

“We are called and formed to be one with Christ in his passion and resurrection,” said the Most Rev. John C. Wester, bishop of the Diocese of Salt Lake City during Evening Prayer with Benediction, part of National Vocation Awareness Week, at the Cathedral of the Madeleine Jan. 11.

Baptism, he said, calls us to practice the mystery of vulnerability and kindness exemplified when God all-powerful, who created everything, became one of us.

This call is hard to answer especially when images everywhere tell us violence and power should be our ideals.

Celebrities and the arms they carry are a good example that in our culture “violence and power get bigger with each generation,” said Bishop Wester.

Humphrey Bogart carried a small gun, then Clint Eastwood came along with a rifle, Sylvester Stallone followed him with a canon, and finally Arnold Schwarzenegger came out with a tank or a bazooka, he said.

“We are conditioned to be powerful… but we are called to a different role, that of a servant,” he said echoing the words of the evening’s reading:

Thus says the Lord: Here is my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased, upon whom I have put my spirit; he shall bring forth justice to the nations, not crying out, not shouting, not making his voice heard in the street. A bruised reed he shall not break, and a smoldering wick he shall not quench, until he establishes justice on earth; the coastlands will wait for his teaching. (Isaiah 42:1-4)

As servants, we are called to put somebody else first, to bring hope, love, peace, and courage to others, and to recognize we are vulnerable and fragile.

“When we know we are weak… Christ can work with us and use us,” said Bishop Wester.

Evening of Prayer with Benediction was organized by the Office of Vocations and the Office of Liturgy in an effort to bring the community together to pray for vocations before the Blessed Sacrament.

The evening started with dim lighting in the Cathedral to emphasize the presence of the Paschal Candle. Each assembly member lit the candle he or she was holding as the Paschal Candle passed by under the guard of the Knights of Columbus.

“We ask the Lord to kindle within us the flame of faith,” said Bishop Wester during the homily.

After the Benediction, Bishop Wester gave thanks to Father Colin F. Bircumshaw, Director of Vocations, and Father Javier Virgen, associate director of Vocations and vicar for Hispanic Affairs, for assisting him at the altar, and to the choir for their uplifting music. Then, he gave special thanks to the Knights of Columbus for the stipend they collect for the seminarians of the diocese.

“I know sometimes it is a sacrifice to your members to come forward with that,” he said.

The bishop also invited the assembly to gather again in prayer.

“There is a certain power of prayer when we work together.”

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