Sunday, May 7, 2017 marks the 54th Anniversary of the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. Embedded deep in the psyche of the Congregation of the Mission and the Daughters of Charity is the prayer for vocations, “Expectatio Israel”.
O Hope of Israel, its Savior in time of trouble, look down with kindness from Heaven.
Take a close look at your vineyard, and provide whatever is necessary for it.
Swell its streams, increase its fruits, and bring to maturity the vineyard which your right hand has planted.
Indeed the harvest is great, but the laborers are few.
We ask you, therefore, Lord of the harvest: send laborers into your harvest.Multiply your people and increase their joy, so that the walls of Jerusalem may be built up.
This is your house, 0 Lord God, this is your house. Let there not be in it, I beg you, even one stone which your most holy hand has not placed there.
Preserve in your name those whom you have called and make them truly holy. Amen.
This prayer has roots going back to November 12, 1665 Saint Vincent wrote to M. Etienne Blatiron, the Superior at Genoa:
I thank God for the uncommon devotions which you have proposed for yourself to perform in order, through the blessed Saint Joseph, to request of God the spread of the Company. I beg His Divine Goodness to find them acceptable. For more than twenty years I have not dared to ask God for that, thinking that, the Congregation being His work, it was necessary to allow to His Providence alone the care for its preservation and its increase; now, by dint of thinking of the recommendation which is given in the Gospel of asking Him to send workers to His harvest, I have become convinced of the importance and usefulness of this devotion.”
[Background of Expectatio Israel Fr. John Carven]
However, it was Fr. A. Fiat (1878- 1914) who composed the prayer Expectatio Israel which has been used in the Double Family of Saint Vincent as their own particular prayer for vocations.
Vocations, however, are not the concern solely of Vincentians.
In his message for this year, Pope Francis stresses the theme “Led by the Spirit for Mission”
I would like to reflect on the missionary dimension of our Christian calling. … In the depths of their heart, all missionary disciples hear this divine voice bidding them to “go about”, as Jesus did, “doing good and healing all” (cf. Acts 10:38). I have mentioned that, by virtue of baptism, every Christian is a “Christopher”, a bearer of Christ, to his brothers and sisters (cf. Catechesis, 30 January 2016).
This is particularly the case with those called to a life of special consecration and with priests, who have generously responded, “Here I am, Lord, send me!” With renewed missionary enthusiasm, priests are called to go forth from the sacred precincts of the temple and to let God’s tender love overflow for the sake of humanity (cf. Homily at the Chrism Mass, 24 March 2016). The Church needs such priests: serenely confident because they have discovered the true treasure, anxious to go out and joyfully to make it known to all (cf. Mt 13:44).
As mentioned above May 7 marks the 54th year os World Day of Prayer for Vocations
The purpose of the World Day of Prayer for Vocations is to publically fulfill the Lord’s instruction to, “Pray the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into his harvest” (Mt 9:38; Lk 10:2). As a climax to a prayer that is continually offered throughout the Church, it affirms the primacy of faith and grace in all that concerns vocations to the priesthood and to the consecrated life. While appreciating all vocations, the Church concentrates its attention this day on vocations to the ordained ministries(priesthood and diaconate), to the Religious life in all its forms (male and female, contemplative and apostolic), to societies of apostolic life, to secular institutes in their diversity of services and membership, and to the missionary life, in the particular sense of mission “ad gentes”.