Good Shepherd Sunday
Updated: May 2
People who study such things will tell you that following the atrocities of the First World War and again after the Second World War, the Church saw an increase in vocations to the priesthood. Commentators are already speculating whether the contemporary horrors of living through the coronavirus pandemic may result in a similar increase.
Next Sunday, the Fourth Sunday of Easter, 3rd May, is traditionally known as Good Shepherd Sunday, so-called because the Gospel reading is taken from John chapter 10 in which Jesus describes himself as the Good Shepherd. It is a Sunday on which we are invited to pray particularly for vocations.
Although not one of the formally approved titles of Our Lady, it is not, however, unusual to seek the intercession of Mary, Mother of Vocations in this regard. For example, on 25th October 2004, Serra International* received the approval of the Holy See for use the invocation ‘Mary, mother of vocations, pray for us!’ in promoting vocations.
Mary may rightly be called the Mother of Vocations. As Mother of God, through her fiat of humble acceptance she became the Mother of all vocations to the priesthood and the religious life. As Mother of Jesus, our great High Priest, she invites others to respond to the call of her son to follow him and so share in his priesthood. As the handmaid of the Lord she is Mother of Vocations through her example, inviting us to follow the model of her faithful discipleship.
The following prayer, written by St Annibale Maria di Francia, is addressed to Mary, although not as Mother of Vocations, seeking her intercession for vocations:
O Most Holy Virgin,
you have kept in your Immaculate Heart
the Divine Command of Jesus:
‘Pray therefore to the master of the harvest
to send labourers to his harvest’
and you have raised all priestly and apostolic vocations,
which have bloomed in the Church at all times.
We ask of you this spirit of prayer
and that you may present the supplications which we raise
to the Lord of the Harvest
so that he send to the world an abundance of holy labourers
for his greater glory and for the salvation of souls.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
* Serra International is a global lay apostolate for promoting vocations to the priesthood and religious life and creating a culture of vocation in the Catholic Church; its members, called Serrans, promote and support vocations.