Father Brian Danner
Iowa KofC State Chaplain
As this article is written, the Church is at the completion of the Christmas season and the Feast of Our Lord’s Baptism was most immediately celebrated. Often in the middle of January the Church’s focus draws us to the observance of National Vocations Awareness Week, a time when we concentrate our efforts on the ministry of service to the Church. This year those dates are January 13-19. During this time we are invited to pray for vocations to the priesthood and religious life: that people will truly open their hearts to God's call and respond freely and fully....without reservation...and without anxiety. The Knights of Columbus have tirelessly dedicated their work to the awareness and need for vocations to the priesthood, diaconate, and consecrated religious life. We are grateful to all our councils who regularly pray before and during their meetings, mass and as individuals for more vocations to religious life.
Devotion to the Eucharist plays a central role to our efforts of raising greater awareness to praying for more vocations and to the achievement of newly ordained or professed religious. As a priest and
pastor, I am so encouraged to hear parishioners occasionally comment at how often they pray during Eucharistic Adoration and at mass for more vocations. Let us not forget to carry our rosaries with us at all times. Pull it out and pray it for your parish leaders and for the growth of more vocations in our parishes. The recitation of the rosary has been important to Knights from the early days of our Order, and it is one of the first steps of every Catholic gentleman entering the ranks of the Knights of Columbus. Some of our councils make it a regular practice of praying the rosary before every council meeting. Others pray it during their meeting. Still others will pray a decade of the rosary as their council meeting’s opening prayer.
Most of us know that our young people today are entering a culture that does not prioritize God nor... godly values. We are searching for God and desire to go to heaven, sometimes without even realizing it. Still, at the same time, there are those of us who do not want God and gospel values to be integrated into our society, let alone do what God expects of us. There are those who believe our nation’s shootings are a spiritual awakening to the realities that we are denying God from entering today's culture.
Regarding vocations, the world laughs at the media for mocking the ideals of a celibate life. And so we ask...what are we doing about it. We say….if priests would only be allowed to marry, more would pursue priesthood. Perhaps. Yet, many other Christian denominations do allow their clergy to marry, but still struggle, sometimes far worse than Catholics, to recruit the number of ministers needed to adequately serve their respective churches. Still, more than 60% of marriages end in a divorce. Perhaps we might ask...what is God trying to tell us? History has repeatedly shown that more men and women seek religious life as a viable lifetime vocation during economically challenging times than in flourishing ones. Why? Because poor economies force people to rethink their relationship with God. Religious communities and dioceses are reporting more inquiries and admissions. Perhaps these challenging days will do the Body of Christ some good! Friends, it
is overtime for us to ask God, “Lord, what do You want ME to do? How can I make a difference?”
It is time to go fishing. No…I’m not talking about ice fishing in the nearest lake…but fishing for more men and women to serve the church. It is overtime for us to get down on our hands and knees and pray WITH our children, WITH our grandchildren for more vocations…..in our homes, during mass, at Eucharistic Adoration and at the dinner table. Parents, please allow your children see you pray alone as a couple. Let our youth see you pray FOR THEM. And children…pray not only every morning before going to school and every night before going to bed, but with your parents every single day. Young men and women are being called to serve the church today, but they are not readily answering the call or being heard because our culture today frowns upon a religious life. Examine the environment in which we speak of religious life.
Parents, what kind of message do you give your children about religious life? When was the last time you encouraged your son or daughter to include serving the church as a career option? Channel your energies to something positive by influencing our
culture. Our young people today want the challenge
to do something other than mediocrity.
Our young people WANT to make a difference in the world. Have we thought about whether our children will have a priest available to preside at their wedding someday? Or, how many days will it be before a priest is available to preside at grandma or grandpa’s funeral someday? Have we thought about all the sisters who have served our schools, and the poor and the sick in nursing homes and hospitals? We need good people to step forward and accept the call! No, it is not natural to be a religious because it is super-natural to lay down one's life for a friend. National Vocations Awareness Week gives us something to think about. What are we doing right now.......and where are we channeling our energies for the church's future?
Please join me in praying as we bow our heads, “God our Father, we pray that each of us, may be like Jesus, and hear God say to us: “You are my beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”