Benedict XVI says that every ecclesial community is called to promote and safeguard priestly and consecrated vocations, since the Lord's voice is at risk of being submerged by many other voices.
The Pope affirmed this today, the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, before praying the midday Regina Caeli with crowds in St. Peter's Square.
He noted that today's liturgy presents Christ the Good Shepherd, while the flock's attitude toward the Good Shepherd is presented "with two specific verbs: listening and following."
"These terms designate the fundamental characteristics of those who live as followers of the Lord," the Holy Father stated. "First of all, listening to his word from which faith is born and nourished. Only those who are attentive to the Lord’s voice are able to determine by their own conscience the right choices to act according to God. From listening, then, is derived the following of Jesus: we act as disciples after we have listened and internalized the Master’s teaching, to live it daily."
The Holy Father also cited his message for this year's World Day of Prayer for Vocations to emphasize that "a vocation is followed when we leave behind 'our will that is closed in itself and our idea of self-actualization, to immerse ourselves in another will, God’s, letting ourselves be guided by it.'"
People always have a need for God, and "there will always be a need for Shepherds who announce the Word and help us to meet the Lord in the sacraments," he affirmed.
"On this Sunday it is natural to remember the Shepherds of the Church of God, and those who are being formed to become Shepherds," the Pontiff also reflected. "I therefore invite you to say a special prayer for bishops -- including the Bishop of Rome! -- for parish priests, for all those who have a responsibility in leading the flock of Christ, that they might be faithful and wise in carrying out their office. In particular, let us pray for vocations to the priesthood on this World Day of Prayer for Vocations, that authentic workers for the Lord’s harvest never be lacking."