By GLENN RUTHERFORD
Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke reminded the 27th annual Church Teaches Forum July 20 that each person is “called to follow Christ in a holiness of life” regardless of one’s status or vocation.
God calls some to a holy life as an ordained priest or deacon. He calls others to religious life as a sister or brother in a religious order. But the laity is called, too, he noted, speaking to a crowd of several hundred at the Galt House Hotel in downtown Louisville.
“For some, God was specifically calling them to be open to the holiness of a vocation,” he said, “but those not called in such a manner are asked to make the gift of our whole life, lived in holiness.”
Others, through the witness of their lives, “see Christ in us through our faithful response to our call to a holy life. We must all realize our share in Christ’s mission of salvation,” said Cardinal Burke, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura and former Archbishop of St. Louis, Mo.
Married adults have a responsibility not only to recognize and respond to their own call to holiness, Cardinal Burke noted, but to make certain their children are educated in the faith and open to their own possible vocations and to their personal call to holiness.
“Children and young people should pray each day to know their vocation in life,” the cardinal said. “Our education and faith programs help us to hear God’s call.”
Parents can help make that call heard by encouraging faith formation in their children and by leading the family in daily prayer, he said.
As for the need for vocations, Cardinal Burke noted that “the harvest is abundant but the laborers are few.”
“The church has responsibility to help young people hear God’s call,” he said. “Bishops have an especially weighty responsibility to assist young people to determine their vocations.”
In fact, he said, Blessed John Paul II stressed that bishops bear the main responsibility “for the promotion of vocations, so young people will understand that our entire lives are vocations.”
Blessed John Paul believed that everyone needs to “assist boys and girls in discussing God’s plan for their lives and in discovering the call to holiness that God asks of all his people,” he noted.
“Priests can help through their enthusiasm for the faith and the example of their lives,” Cardinal Burke said. Priests and parents can “accompany young people as they strive to know God’s will for them.”
Young people and children must be encouraged “to attend Holy Mass and to confess their sins regularly,” he said.
“The call to consecrated life, the call to the priesthood is difficult to hear in the secular environment,” the cardinal added. “Bishops should foster and encourage the call to all vocations. I know my own heart is filled with gratitude to those who helped me to know God’s will in my life.”
His parents, he said, “made prayer natural in our lives, and made it natural to think of a religious vocation. And the sisters who educated me disciplined me to pray to know the lives of the saints and to be open to hear God’s call.”
“We must all pray especially that our children will come to know God’s plan for them,” he said. “And we must pray that all the faithful will hear and respond to God’s call to holiness. We must make our homes a place of prayer for vocations and for vocational fidelity.”