Monday, 27 April 2015
Vocations Sunday and Fr Lawrence Jones
Yesterday we prayed for vocations to the religious life and priesthood. Monks & nuns lead an enclosed life of prayer for the good of the Church; Sisters & brothers live and work in the world as educators, nurses, social workers etc. Each of these is important: without prayer we cannot draw upon Divine Power; without health, education and social care the Gospel does not impact the world and the common good. But what the Church needs to sustain us all is priests. We do not want to be left without someone to anoint us in sickness; absolve us from sin; to celebrate the Mass and solemnise our marriages. Small wonder that Our Lord lamented over sheep without a shepherd. Without a priest a community is a flock without a shepherd; even a body without a head. We should encourage those who voice an interest in following a vocation to listen to the Lord, and ask those we think might make a good priest to consider asking the Lord about it.
And do pray for the priests you already have. Many are now running two or three parishes, and I can tell you from my own experience of having run two parishes at one time, that each parish thinks you are there full time, and expects from your part-time hours all that they had from a resident, full-time pastor. Add to this the general perception of priests in the mind of the public today following the abuse scandals, and the pressures upon priests are hefty. A great deal of that pressure comes from within: the desire to preach well; to celebrate the sacraments in a worthy and dignified manner; to be a shepherd to the sick and housebound; a guide to the children in school and a support to families and others in crisis. It is a varied and challenging life for which none of us thinks he is fit, but we struggle on doing the best we can and trying to be the kind of priest, the sort of Father, we are called to be. We are not meant to simply but be his envoy, but to make Him present; to personify Him in the world around us. And that is no easy task.
Today in our Diocese we received notice of the death of one of our own priests: Father Lawrence Jones. Father was 53 years old and a priest for 29 years this year. He had a great sense of humour, of fairness, and of dedication to God and the people. He will be sadly missed. If we were having a vocations talk today I would be sharing the following video of Father Lawrence. Enjoy, and offer a prayer for Father and his family, please.