05/03/2009, 00.00
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Pope: Pray for vocations and my journey to the Holy Land

On Vocations Sunday Pope Benedict asks for prayers for calls to the priesthood, but also for “saintly spouses capable of showing their children, above all by setting an example, the high horizons for which to strive in freedom”. The voyage to the Holy Land (May 8th to 15th) to “encourage Christians” there immersed in “difficulties” and promote peace and justice “in shared respect”. A greeting and special prayer for Mexicans, victims of the swine flu epidemic.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – In reflections ahead of the Easter prayer, the Regina Caeli, Benedict XVI asked for prayers for vocations and for his imminent journey to the Holy Land (Jordan, Israel, Palestinian Territories). Somewhat later than usual – following mass in St Ptere’s Basilica where he ordained 19 new priests for the diocese of Rome, the pontiff said: “Both on a personal and community level we must pray a lot for vocations, so that the greatness and beauty of God’s love attract many to follow Christ on the path to priesthood and consecrated life”.   “We also need to pray – he added –for saintly spouses, capable of showing their children, above all by setting an example, the high horizons for which to strive in freedom”.

The pope’s appeal for vocations was made on the IV Sunday of Easter, called “Good Shepherd Sunday” (from the Sunday Gospel), when traditionally the pope ordains new priests, and the world marks a day of prayer for vocations.

Benedict XVI also invited the faithful to pray for his upcoming journey to the Holy Land (8-15 May), where he travels as a “pilgrim”, “in the footsteps of my predecessors Paul VI and John Paul II”.

 “With my visit – explained the pope – I aim to confirm and encourage the Christians in the Holy Land, who are faced with no small amount of difficulties each and every day.  As successor to the Apostle Peter, I will bring to them the support and closeness of the entire Church.  Moreover, I will be a pilgrim of peace, in the name of the one God, the Father of all.  I will be a witness of the Catholic Churches commitment in favour of all those who struggle to practice dialogue and reconciliation, to reach a stable and lasting peace in justice and shared respect.  Finally, this voyage cannot avoid being of notable importance for ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue.  Jerusalem is, from this point of view, the symbolic city par excellence: there Christ died to unite all of Gods lost children (Jn 11,52)”.

Following the Marian prayer the pontiff greeted the estimated 50 thousand pilgrims present in St Peter’s Square in various languages. In Spanish, he assured all Mexicans, victims of the swine flu epidemic, of his prayers and urged them to remain firm in the Lord’s faith.  To all he them wished a May spent in the “spiritual company of Holy Mary”.  The month of May is traditionally dedicated to the devotion of Our Lady.


Photo: CPP


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