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NOVENA TO St. JOSEPH FOR VOCATIONS
March 10 - March 19
The Catholic tradition of praying a novena (derived from the Latin novem, meaning nine) is very ancient. It consists of nine days of unbroken private or public prayer to obtain special graces, to implore special favours, or make special petitions.
St. Joseph, as “Guardian of the Redeemer” (Pope St. John Paull II) has also been invoked since time immemorial as Guardian of the Universal (or ‘Catholic’) Church.
The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council rightly proclaimed that the Eucharistic sacrifice is “the source and summit of the Christian life” (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, 11). Therefore, the “Church draws her life from the Eucharist,” as Pope John Paul II said at the start of his encyclical “Ecclesia de Eucharistia”.
Both these truths can be summarised in the words of the great theologian Henri Cardinal de Lubac S.J. (1896-1991):
“the Church makes the Eucharist and the Eucharist makes the Church”
Only a Priest can bring us Christ, the Son of the Living God, in the Eucharist: His Divine Body and Precious Blood, “the new and eternal Covenant, which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins” (words of the Consecration at the divine Liturgy of the Mass).
Christ entrusted the Church to perpetuate this gift, through the institution of the Sacred Priesthood at the ‘Last Supper’ when He commanded: “Do this in memory of me!”. How can the Church not fail to heed the words of Her blessed Lord!
And so it is, throughout history, no matter what crises, we have never lacked Priests, but for one reason alone: The People of God have never ceased to pray and nurture vocations to the Priesthood and Religious Life, especially during times of persecution or trial.
Priests are therefore a Divinely-willed necessity, since:
Without Priests, we cannot have or receive the Most Blessed Eucharist.
Without Priests, our mortal sins cannot be forgiven.
Without Priests, we cannot receive the fullness of the Holy spirit in Confirmation.
Without Priests, we cannot receive the Sacrament of the Sick.
Without Priests, we cannot receive the so-called ‘last Rites’ as we prepare to go to the Lord forever.
Without Priests, the People of God cannot be guided in a fatherly, pastoral way.
Without Priests, the People of God cannot be governed as a Community of Faith.
Without Priests, we cannot be Church!
The Vatican has presented the “Annuarium Statisticum Ecclesiae 2017,” with up-to-date statistics on the status of the Catholic Church in the world. Although the number of Catholic has marginally increased, for the first time since 2010 the number of priests has decreased from 414,969 in 2016 to 414,582 in 2017. There are clear signs that the downward trend seems set to continue.
In Gibraltar there have been no vocations to the Sacred Priesthood since around 2006. At present, there are no men offering themselves for formation, which means Gibraltar will have no new indigenous priests for at least the next 10 years (it takes around 7 years to train and usually, this is preceded by a year or two of discernment before entering Seminary). Our Gibraltarian Priests are almost all in their 50’s. We will have to rely increasingly on help from abroad. If you want Gibraltarian Priests for the future, please pray now!
Encourage priests from within your own family! Indeed, the family is the “domestic Church” (Lumen Gentium, 11) since in the family, “parents should, by their word and example, be the first preachers of the faith to their children; they should encourage them in the vocation which is proper to each of them, fostering with special care vocation to a sacred state” (ibid.).
We cannot afford to be complacent. The mission to pray and seek vocations belongs to all, as does the future and health of our local Church.
Please consider joining us and praying for vocations these nine days, concluding with the Solemnity of St. Joseph on 19th March.
Prayer to Saint Joseph for Vocations