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My first Sunday as a Priest without the aid of 20 servers, 2 deacons, 4 concelebrants, an assistant Priest MC, a polyphonic choir, a plainchant schola, a dulcian, 2 baroque guitars, and nearly 500 in the congregation. A little different? Yes. Downer? Certainly not.

This morning I celebrated the Solemn Mass and preached on the importance of supporting vocations work. We have such a great focus on vocations to the Sacred Priesthood in this parish that it’s difficult to know how to improve on things. My challenge was this: if we can think of something we’d rather our son/grandson/nephew did, other than be a Priest of Jesus Christ, then we need to think again about the importance of the Sacred Priesthood, and to engage more strongly with the image of Christ the Good Shepherd who willingly lays down his life for his sheep.

After Mass one mother told me I had to keep working on her sons – she clearly wants a Priest in the family: great! But it must be hard for a parent to hold an ideal which runs so contrary to what society expects. The world wants us to marry, to be successful, to earn money, to have our own house, to have independence. Christ wants more: he wants everything we have, everything we are, set apart. Set apart for what? The plebs sancta Dei, the Holy People of God, whom he calls his priests to serve without limits, searching out the lost and gathering all into the safety of sheepfold.

Sure, not everyone is called to the Ministerial Priesthood, but our baptism does call us all to give ourselves entirely the vocation Christ gives each one of us, and that supernatural fulfilment must genuinely be the desire of Christian families before we can regain a proper sense of what Scott Hahn calls ‘the glory of the priesthood’.

If you haven’t read the Holy Father’s message for the World Day of Vocations (which we celebrate today), you can read it here. You can also read his homily from the Ordination Mass he celebrated this morning in Rome and there’s a short video of the event here.