By Father Joseph Sia
In our current diocesan vocations prayer, we end with the invocation, “Mary, Model for all Vocations, pray for us.” Why is Mary considered the model for all vocations?
How can she be the standard for men who are priests, deacons, religious brothers or husbands? In his 1992 exhortation “Pastores Dabo Vobis” (I Shall Give You Shepherds), St. Pope John Paul II explains why Mary is the model for the priestly vocation. This explanation can be extended to all other vocations as well:
“Every aspect of priestly formation can be referred to Mary, the human being who has responded better than any other to God’s call. Mary became both the servant and the disciple of the Word to the point of conceiving, in her heart and in her flesh, the Word made man, so as to give him to mankind. With her example and intercession the Blessed Virgin keeps vigilant watch over the growth of vocations and priestly life in the Church.”
Hence, the key characteristic of Mary is that she “has responded to God’s call” and her response was so intimate and sincere that she conceived within her Jesus Christ himself. Therefore, anyone who wishes to live out their vocation, whether to married life, consecrated life, single life, the diaconate or priesthood, must also be able to unite himself or herself closely to God and be open to the fountain of blessings that comes forth from God. In doing so, like Mary, we can also experience the incarnation of Christ; that is, making God present to this world in whatever state of life we are called.
These seasons of Advent and Christmas offer us many ways to celebrate the example of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Through the dogma of the Immaculate Conception (Dec. 8), we become inspired by her sinless disposition to become less sinful ourselves. In her appearances as Our Lady of Guadalupe (Dec. 12), we remember our important mission to bring the Good News to all peoples. As the gentle woman who gave birth to Christ (Dec. 25), she helps us to realize that one person’s “yes” to God can make a difference for the entire world. As the Mother of God (Jan. 1), she helps us to appreciate our God who is so humble that he chose to be born of a woman.
As we continue to pray for vocations, let us never fail to look to the Blessed Virgin Mary to give us inspiration to persevere. She, who was always faithful to God, will also be faithful to us.
(Fr. Sia is vocations director for the Davenport Diocese. Contact him at (563) 888-4255 or sia@ davenportdiocese.org.)