Ư NGHĨA ƠN GỌI

(Qua những lời của ĐTC Gioan Phaolo 2 nói trong  83 nơi trên thế giới, nxb Scepter ấn hành năm 1997)

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1. Chúa  kêu gọi bạn làm ǵ?

 

Tôi ngỏ lời cách riêng với các bạn trẻ nam cũng như nữ, cả các bạn đă khá lớn, các bạn đang phải lựa chọn quyết định cuối cùng .Tôi muốn gặp riêng mỗi bạn, gọi tên mỗi bạn, nói chuyện tâm t́nh với mỗi bạn về chuyện rất quan trọng với các bạn và c̣n quan trọng cho cả nhân loại.

Tôi muốn hỏi mỗi bạn lời này:

-Bạn sẽ sống đời bạn để làm ǵ?

-Dự tính của bạn thế nào?

-Có khi nào bạn nghĩ tới việc hiến toàn thân  cho Chúa Kitô không?

-Bạn có nghĩ rằng c̣n có ǵ lớn lao hơn việc đem Chúa Kitô đến cho nhân loại và đem nhân loại đến cho Chúa không?

Khi suy nghĩ điều đó, ta thấy một chân trời vô biên những hi vọng và ước muốn trong tâm trí ta. Trong chính trung tâm những xung khắc của cuộc đời, người ta t́m ra ư nghĩa đích thực của cuộc đời. Người ta tự hỏi:

-Tại sao?

-Tại sao tôi hiện diện nơi này?

-Tại sao tôi sống?

-Tôi phải làm ǵ đây?

Các bạn không cô đơn khi đặt những câu hỏi đó? Toàn thể nhân loại đều cảm thấy nhu cầu thúc bách t́m ra ư nghĩa và mục đích của thế giới này đang chất chứa những phức tạp và khó khăn hàng ngày.

Bạn đang ở tại ngă tư đường đời, bạn phải quyết định thế nào cho tương lai bạn được hạnh phúc, đón nhận những trách nhiệm mà bạn  hi vọng rằng nó sẽ nằm yên trên vai bạn, nó sẽ đóng một vai tṛ chủ động trong thế giới chung quanh bạn.

 

Bạn trẻ xin tôi lời khích lệ và hướng dẫn, tôi rất sẵn ḷng tặng các bạn vài lời khuyên nhủ nhân danh Chúa Giêsu Kitô.

Trước hết, tôi nói rằng: bạn đừng bao giờ nghĩ rằng ḿnh cô đơn trong quyết định cho tương lai ḿnh,

Thứ đến là, khi quyết định cho tương lai, bạn không được quyết định cho tư lợi ḿnh bạn thôi.

Điều chắc chắn là chúng ta phải san sẻ và loan truyền lời kêu gọi nên thánh cho hết mọi người. (Lumen Gentium chương 5).

Đây không phải là vấn đề riêng tư hay viên thuốc tiên tinh thần. Đây không phải là vấn đề của một số người tự cảm thấy ḿnh dám là anh hùng. Cũng không phải là vấn đề t́m nơi trú ngụ yên tĩnh cho một vài h́nh thức đạo đức, hoặc vài loại tính tự nhiên nào đó. Đây là vấn đề  ơn thánh hiến tặng cho mọi người đă lănh Bí tích Rửa tội, trong các đường lối khác nhau (Ep 4,7).

 

Các bạn trẻ hăy tự hỏi ḿnh về T́nh yêu Chúa Kitô. Nhận ra tiếng gọi của Chúa đang vang dội trong đền thờ trái tim bạn. Trở lại với ánh sáng và cái nh́n thấu suốt của Ngài, nó mở ra nẻo đường của đời bạn đi tới những chân trời của sứ mạng Giáo hội. Đó là sứ mạng vất vả, ngày nay hơn bao giờ trước, để chỉ cho con người sự thật về chính ḿnh, về cùng đích của họ, về vận mệnh của họ, và chỉ ra cho các tín hữu trung thành sự phong phú không thể đo lường được của T́nh yêu Chúa Kitô.

Đừng sợ những chính yếu của những đ̣i hỏi này, v́ Chúa Giêsu đă yêu chúng ta trước, đă chuẩn bị ban chính ḿnh Ngài cho ta, như Ngài đang đ̣i hỏi các bạn. Nếu Ngài đ̣i hỏi các bạn nhiều, chính v́ Ngài biết các bạn có thể cho nhiều.

 

Sự thánh thiện, không nghĩa là không có tội, nhưng đúng hơn là chiến đấu để không đầu hàng tội và chỗi dậy ngay sau khi ngă phạm tội.

Sự thánh thiện cũng không có nghĩa là loại bỏ những cố gắng của con người, dù có như thế, cũng không hạn chế được những tác động của ơn thánh trong tâm hồn con người, cũng không làm giảm giá trị của ơn thánh.

 

Mọi Kitô hữu giáo dân đều là việc lạ thường của ơn thánh Chúa và được kêu gọi tới độ cao của sự thánh thiện. Đôi khi, người nam hay nữ giáo dân dường như không  nhận thức được đầy đủ nhân phẩm và ơn gọi của ḿnh như là ơn gọi giáo dân. Đó là ơn gọi và sứ mạng riêng biệt tŕnh bầy Tin mừng Phúc âm trong cuộc sống của họ, và từ đó, ḥa nhập Tin mừng vào cuộc sống như nắm men vào thực tại của thế giới, nơi họ sinh sống và làm việc.

Hăy bước theo Chúa Kitô, hỡi người bạn c̣n độc thân hay sắp lập gia đ́nh.

Hăy bước theo Chúa Kitô, hỡi người trẻ hay người già.

Hăy bước theo Chúa Kitô, hỡi người già hay người bệnh, người cảm thấy…cần có một người bạn. Hăy bước theo Chúa Kitô.

 

 

2. Chúa kêu gọi bạn khi nào và cách nào?

 

Biết bao nhiêu người trẻ không nắm giữ sự thật, họ trôi nổi với câu hỏi "tại sao". Bao nhiêu người, bất hạnh thay, sau những t́m ṭi trống rỗng và mệt mỏi, đắng cay và bực bội, vẫn c̣n thất vọng và thất vọng. Và được bao nhiêu người đă t́m thấy sự thật sau nhiều năm bị dằn vặt với những câu hỏi, với những kinh nghiệm đớn đau!

Hăy nghĩ tới gương thánh Augustinô đi trên đường bi thảm đă đạt được ánh sáng chân thật, t́m lại được b́nh an vô tội! Sau cùng ngài đă thốt lên như tiếc xót: "Sero Te amavi!" (Con đă yêu Chúa muộn rồi).

Hăy nghĩ tới những cố gắng của Hồng y Newman danh tiếng, đă tranh thủ để đạt tới đức tin Công giáo. Ngài đă trải qua biết bao gian khổ tinh thần. Thực là một điều to lớn khi biết có người đă đạt tới sự thật.

Ngài đă chọn anh em, trong con đường nhiệm mầu nhưng chân xác, để làm cho anh em nên những người cứu thế với Ngài và như Ngài. Phải Chúa Kitô kêu gọi anh em, nhưng gọi anh em trong sự thật. Lời kêu gọi của Ngài có tính cách đ̣i hỏi, v́ Ngài mời anh em để Người "chiếm đoạt" hoàn toàn, để cả cuộc đời anh em sẽ được nh́n trong ánh sáng khác. Anh em hay để Chúa Giêsu nắm giữ anh em, anh em hăy chỉ sống  cho Người!

Khi suy tư về sự sống Chúa Giêsu đă ban cho, tôi xin anh em  hăy can đảm dấn thân cho sự thật. Hăy can đảm tin vào Tin mừng về ss mà Chúa Giêsu đă dạy trong Phúc âm. Hăy mở rộng ḷng, trí nh́n sự tốt đẹp Thiên Chúa đă dựng nên và cách riêng dựng nên cho Ngài,  tỏ t́nh yêu cá biệt với mỗi anh em.

Hỡi các người trẻ trên thế giới, hăy nghe tiếng gọi của Chúa. Hăy nghe tiếng gọi của Chúa và đi theo Chúa.

Có một đường tuyệt vời về kinh nghiệm t́nh yêu trong cuộc sống: đó là ơn gọi theo Chúa Kitô trong đời sống độc thân tự chọn, hoặc trong đời sống trinh khiết v́ yêu mến Nước Trời. Tôi xin mỗi anh chị em nghiêm túc hỏi ḿnh xem Chúa có gọi anh chị em vào đường nào trong hai đường này không. Và xin những ai đang c̣n nghi ngờ không biết ḿnh có ơn gọi không? tôi khuyến khích: Hăy bền tâm cầu nguyện để xin ơn soi sáng, rồi nếu có, hăy thưa "xin vâng" một cách vui vẻ.

Quả thực, Thiên Chúa đă tưởng nghĩ đến chúng ta từ trước muôn đời, và đă yêu thương ta như chỉ có một ḿnh ta. Ngài đă gọi mỗi người chúng ta bằng tên riêng của ta, như Đấng chăn chiên nhân lành gọi chiên ḿnh bằng tên của nó (Jn 10: 3).

 

3. Chúa gi bạn khi c̣n trẻ

 

Trong những năm c̣n trẻ, mỗi thiếu niên phát triển tính t́nh riêng của ḿnh. Cái tương lai đă bắt đầu thành hiện thực, và đúng là như nắm lấy trong tầm tay. Đó là thời ḱ sự sống như một tương lai đầy hứa hẹn cho mỗi người, ḿnh muốn là, sẽ là ai đây. Đó cũng là đúng lúc để phân biệt và để trở nên nhận biết tận căn gốc rằng, cuộc đời không thể triển nở nếu không có Thiên Chúa  và tha nhân. Đó là lúc phải đương đầu với những thắc mắc lớn, sự chọn lựa giữa ích kỉ và xả kỉ.

Mỗi người trong các bạn cũng đương đầu với thử thách đem lại ư nghĩa đầy đủ cho cuộc sống của các bạn mà Thiên Chúa đă ban cho. Các bạn c̣n trẻ và c̣n ham sống. Nhưng các bạn phải sống đầy đủ ư nghĩa và có mục đích: Các bạn phải sống cho Chúa và cho tha nhân. Không ai có thể sống thay các bạn. Tương lai thuộc về các bạn, nhưng trên hết,  tương lai là một ơn gọi, một thử thách, muốn "giữ" mạng sống ḿnh th́ phải cho nó đi, phải đánh mất nó đi, như lời Phúc âm nhắc nhớ chúng ta- qua bác ái, san sẻ nó để phục vụ tha nhân. Các bạn được gọi để làm chứng nhân cho điều mâu thuẫn mà Chúa Giêsu đă nói xưa: "Ai yêu mạng sống ḿnh th́ sẽ mất, ai ghét bỏ mạng sống ḿnh đời này th́ sẽ lấy lại nó trong đời sau" (Jn 12: 25).  Mức độ thành công của các bạn tùy vào mức độ cho đi quảng đại của các bạn.

Chúa Kitô có thuốc chữa bệnh cho thế giới. Ngài cũng gọi Ngài là "thầy thuốc" (Mk 2: 17), Ngài dạy chúng ta rằng: nếu ai muốn biến đổi thế giới th́ điều cần là phải biến đổi ḷng ḿnh trước đă.

Tất cả chúng ta được kêu gọi, mỗi người một cách, đi và "đem lại hoa trái", Tông đồ được chọn bởi Thầy . Họ không tự ḿnh ra đi, cũng không t́nh nguyện đi, ít là trong lúc đầu, v́ bởi ơn cứu rỗi hoàn toàn ban không, mà Chúa Giêsu ban  cho họ thành bạn hữu. Ai làm bạn  với Chúa, cũng dấn thân trong đức tin và hoạt động tông đồ. Đó là ư nghĩa "đem lại hoa trái".

 

4. Chúa kêu gọi từ đời đời trước

 

Every vocation is part of a divine plan. This means that in God's creative initiative there enters a particular act of love for those called not only to salvation, but also to the ministry of salvation. Therefore from all eternity, since we began to exist in the plans of the Creator, and he willed us to be creatures, he also willed us to be "called," preparing in us the gifts and conditions for the per­sonal, conscious, and opportune response to the call of Christ and of the Church. God who loves us, who is Love, is also "He who calls" (Rom 9: 11).

Vocation is, therefore, a mystery that man accepts and lives in the depths of his being. A gift and a grace, it depends on supreme divine freedom and, in its total reality, it escapes our understanding. We cannot demand explanations from the Giver of all goods - "Why have you made me thus' " (Rom 9:20) because he who calls is also "he who is" (Ex 3: 14). Therefore, in the presence of a vocation we adore the mystery, we respond lovingly to the initia­tive of love, we say yes to the call.

The experience of a vocation is unique and indescribable, and is only perceived as a gentle breeze of the clarifying touch of grace. The vocation is a breathing of the Holy Spirit, who, at the same time as he genuinely shapes our fragile human reality, shines a new light into our hearts. He instills an extraordinary power that merges our existence into the divine enterprise.

 

5. Tiến tŕnh Ơn gọi

 

The Lord has given you a heart open to great horizons; do not be afraid to commit your life completely to the service of Christ and his Gospel! Listen to him as he says again today: "The harvest is abundant, but the laborers are few."

We can learn how the Lord acts in every vocation (Ex 3: 1-6; 9-12). First, he provokes a new awareness of his presence-the burning bush. When we begin to show an interest he calls us by name. When our answer becomes more specific and like Moses we say: "Here I am" (cf. v. 4), then he reveals more clearly both him­self and his compassionate love for his people in need. Gradually he leads us to discover the practical way in which we should serve him: "I will send you." And usually it is then that fears and doubts come to disturb us and make it more difficult to decide. It is then that we need to hear the Lord's assurance: "I am with you. Be not afraid!" Every vocation to the apostolate springs from familiarity with God's word and involves being sent to communicate that word to others.

 

The lack of workers for God's harvest was already a challenge in Gospel times, [even] for Jesus himself. The Gospel tells us that as he roamed through towns and villages, Jesus was moved with pity for the crowds which "were lying prostrate from exhaustion, like sheep without a shepherd" (Mt 9: 36). He tried to remedy that situ­ation by teaching them at great length (cf. Mk 6: 34), but he wanted the disciples to join him in solving the problem and so he invited them, first of all, to pray: "Beg the harvest master to send out labor­ers to gather his harvest" (Mt 9: 38). He also teaches us today that with prayer we can and must influence the number of vocations. This prayer must be joined to efforts to encourage an increase in the responses to the divine call. Here too we find the prime example in the Gospel. After his first contact with Jesus, Andrew brings his brother Simon to him (Jn 1: 42). Certainly, Jesus shows himself sovereign in his call to Simon, but on his own initiative Andrew played a decisive role in Simon's meeting with the Master.

 

Do not be afraid to go out into the streets and public places like the first apostles, who preached Christ and the good news of salvation in the squares of cities, towns, and villages. This is no time to be ashamed of the Gospel. It is the time to preach it from the rooftops. Do not be afraid to break out of comfortable and rou­tine modes of living in order to take up the challenge of making Christ known in the modern "metropolis." It is you who must "go out into the byroads" and invite everyone you meet to the banquet which God has prepared for his people. The Gospel must not be kept hidden because of fear or indifference. It was never meant to be hidden away in private. It has to be put on a stand so that people may see its light and give praise to our heavenly Father.

 

From the human point of view, a vocation in the Church begins with a discovery, with finding the pearl of great price. You discover Jesus: his person, his message, his call. After the initial dis­covery, a dialogue in prayer ensues, a dialogue between Jesus and the one called, a dialogue which goes beyond words and expresses itself in love.

 

Some experiences of religious enthusiasm, which the Lord sometimes grants, arc only initial and passing graces which have the purpose of prodding [one] towards the decisive commitment of conversion, walking generously in faith, hope, and love.

 

The calling of man first finds its source in God: in man's mind and in the choice that God himself makes and which man needs to read in his own heart. In clearly detecting this vocation that comes from God, man experiences the sense of his own insuffi­ciency. He even attempts to defend himself against the responsi­bility of this calling. And so, almost without wanting it, the calling becomes an interior dialogue with God and, at times, even results in becoming a battle with God.

 

Faced with the hesitancy and difficulties human reason sets up, God offers the power of his grace. And by the power of this grace, man is able to fulfill his calling.

 

6. Trả lời Ơn gọi luôn là lời thưa "Xin vâng" đầy đức tin

 

Faith and love are not just words or vague feelings. Believing and loving God means a consistent life, lived wholly in the light of the Gospel; ... this is not easy. It often calls for great courage in going against the trends of fashion and the opinions of our world. But this -I repeat- is the one [requirement] for a truly successful and happy life.

If, in spite of your personal effort to follow Christ you are sometimes weak and do not live in conformity to the law of love, to the commandments, do not be discouraged. Christ continues to wait for you. He, Jesus, is the Good Shepherd who searches for the lost sheep and who tenderly bears it on his shoulder ( Lk 15: 4­7). Christ is the friend who never lets you down.

 

In the Gospel story we see that the young man, having affirmed that he has kept the commandments, adds: "What do I still lack?" (Mt 19: 20). That young heart, moved by God's grace, felt a desire for greater generosity, more commitment, greater love. This desire for more is characteristic of youth; a heart that is in love does not calculate, does not begrudge, it wants to give of itself without measure. "Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, come, follow me (Mk 10: 21)."

 

To those who entered the path of life by observing the com­mandments ... the Lord proposes new horizons; the Lord proposes to them means that are loftier and calls them to commit them­selves to his love without reserve. To discover this call, this voca­tion, is to realize that Christ is looking on you and inviting you by his glance to give yourself totally in love. Before this glance, before his love, the heart opens its doors gradually and is capable of say­ing yes.

 

If some of you hear the call to follow Christ more closely, to dedicate your entire heart to him, like the apostles John and Paul, be generous, do not be afraid, because you have nothing to fear when the prize that you await is God himself, for whom, some­times without ever knowing it, all young people are searching.

Young people who are listening to me, young people who, more than anything else, want to know what you must do to gain eternal life, always say yes to God and hee will fill you with his happiness.

"There  is one thing you lack, come, follow me" (Mk 10: 21). Is Jesus perhaps repeating to some of you today: "There is one thing you lack"? Is he perhaps asking for even more love, more generosity, more sacrifice? Yes, the love of Christ involves generos­ity and sacrifice. To follow Christ and to serve the world in his name requires courage and strength. There is no place for selfishness -and no place for fear! Do not be afraid, then, when love makes demands. Do not be afraid when love requires sacrifice.

 

To each one of you I say, therefore: Heed the call of Christ when you hear him saying to you: "Follow me!" Walk in my path! Stand by my side! Remain in my love! There is a choice to be made: a choice for Christ and his way of life, and his command­ment of love. Real love is demanding. I would fail in my mission

if I did not clearly tell you so. Love demands effort and a personal commitment to the will of God.

 

7. Ơn gi bao gm nhng khó khăn

 

Unfortunately we live in an age in which sin has even become an industry which produces money, inspires economic plans, bestows prosperity. This situation is certainly striking and terrible. Yet we must not let ourselves be frightened or oppressed: any age demands "consistency" from the Christian.

You, too, be courageous! The world needs convinced and fear­less witnesses. It is not enough to discuss, it is necessary to act! ... live in grace, abide in his love, putting into practice the whole moral law, nourishing your soul with the Body of Christ, taking advantage of the Sacrament of Penance periodically and seriously. Always feel ready to love, to assist, to help-in the family, at work, at recreation-those who are near and those who are far away. Also consider, with seriousness and generosity, whether the Lord might not also be calling some of you.

How can this be? That is a good question. Our Blessed Lady, Mary of  Nazareth, asked that same very question when God's extra­ordinary plan for her life was first explained to her. And the answer which Mary received from Almighty God is the identical answer that he gives to you: "The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow ... noth­ing is impossible to God" (Lk 1: 34-37).

 

They will tell you that the meaning of life is to have as much pleasure as you can. They will try to convince you that this world is the only world there is, and that you must grasp everything you can for yourselves, now. You will hear some people telling you: "Look after yourselves, and do not worry about others." There will be those, moreover, who will say: "You will find your happiness in accumulating money and as many consumer goods as you can, and when you feel unhappy use the escape of alco­hol or drugs."

 

You come from Catholic families; you go regularly and meet Christ in Holy Communion on Sundays or even during the week. You pray with your families every day; and I hope you all will con­tinue to do so throughout later life. And yet it can happen that you will be tempted to walk away from Christ.

You will hear people tell you that your religious practices are hopelessly out of date, that they hamper your style and your future, that with everything that social and scientific progress has to offer, you will be able to organize your own lives and that God has played out his role. Even many religious persons adopt such atti­tudes, breathing them in from the surrounding atmosphere with­out noticing the practical atheism that is at their origin.

A society that, in this way, has lost its higher religious and moral principles will become an easy prey for manipulation and for domination by the forces, which, under the pretext of greater freedom, will enslave it ever more. Christ has the answers to your questions and the key to history; he has the power to uplift hearts.

Without heeding the call of Jesus, it's not possible to realize the fullness of your own humanity. He keeps calling you. He keeps inviting you. Yes, Christ calls you, but he calls you in truth. His call is demanding, because he invites you to let yourselves be "cap­tured" by him completely, so that your whole lives will be seen in a different light. He is the friend who said to his disciples, "No longer do I call you servants ... but I have called you friends" (Jn 15: 15). And he proved his friendship by laying down his life for you.

True living is not found in one's self or in things. It is found in Someone else, in the One who created everything that is good, true, and beautiful in the world. True living is found in God and you discover God in the person of Jesus Christ.

 

8. Mun thy rơ đường đi, phải cầu nguyện, lănh Bí tích và được hướng dẫn linh hồn

 

Try to get to know Jesus in a true and comprehensive way! Deepen your knowledge of Jesus which ends loneliness, over­comes sadness and uncertainty, gives real meaning to life, curbs passions, exalts ideals, expands energies in charity, brings light in decisive choices. Let Christ be for you the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Look for him in prayer, in sincere and assiduous dialogue with him. Let him share in the questions that come up, your problems, and your own plans. Look for him in his word, in the Gospels, and in the liturgical life of the Church. Have recourse to the sacraments. Confidently open your most intimate aspirations to the Love of Christ who waits for you in the Eucharist. You will receive the answer to all your worries and you will see with joy that the consistency of your life which he asks of you is the door to fulfill the noblest dreams of your youth.

Mature in meditation and prayer the choice you are about to
make and which, inevitably, you will have to make. If the Lord's
voice rings out deep down in your heart, listen to it: "O that today
you would listen to his voice! Harden not your hearts" (Ps 94: 8).


          Who would dare to say no to the call of the Lord? No one can afford to make a mistake about his path in life. Therefore reflect
well, pray to have the light necessary for your choice and, once it
is made, pray even more to have the strength to persevere, always
walking in a way "worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing him" (Col 1: 10).

"Lord, help me to see" (Lk 18: 41). Help me, Lord, to see what is your will for me at every moment and especially help me to see what is your design of love for the whole of my life, that is my vocation. Give me the generosity to say yes to you and to be faith­ful to you in whatever path you mark out for me. Let me be both salt and light in my place of work, in my family, and in the whole world.

The Sacrament of Penance constitutes a singularly effective means in that commitment to spiritual growth ... an indispens­able means ... for the faithful who, having fallen into grave sin, desire to return to the life of God. Certainly, "spiritual direction" can be carried out even outside the context of the Sacrament of Penance and even by someone who is not endowed with Holy Orders. In this way the penitent overcomes the danger of arbi­trariness and is helped to know and to decide his vocation in the light of God.

 

9. Tr li "Xin vâng" mau l trong ánh sáng ca Ơn gi cao c

 

Take heart young people! Christ is calling you and the world awaits you! Remember that the Kingdom of God needs your gen­erous and complete dedication. Do not act like the rich young man, who invited by Christ, was unable to choose and kept his possessions and his sadness (Mt 19: 22), he who had been looked upon with a loving gaze ( Mt 19: 21). Act like those fishermen who, called by Jesus, immediately left everything behind and became fishers of men (Mt 14: 18-22).

It is always Christ who sends. But whom does he Send" You, young people, are the ones he looks upon with love. Christ, who says, "Follow me," wants you to live your lives with a sense of vocation. The search and discovery of God's will for you is a deep and fascinating endeavor. Every vocation, every path to which Christ calls us, ultimately leads to fulfillment and happiness, because it leads to God, to sharing in God's own life.

Know the greatness of this mission, let yourselves be completely caught up in this whirlpool at whose center God himself is at work. Be fully aware of carrying out a mission that cannot be replaced. Do not let tiredness or disappointment dull that freshness of self-giving that the priestly vocation demands.

 

10. Nim vui ca ḷng qung đi

 

You understand that I am speaking to you of very important mat­ters. It is a question of dedicating one's life to the service of God and of the Church, of doing so with unshakeable faith, with mature judgment and a free decision, generously regardless of the price.

Open your heart to a joyful meeting with Christ. Ask for advice. The Church of Jesus must continue its mission in the world. In speaking to you about vocation and in urging you to fol­low along this path, I am the humble servant of that love that moved Christ when he called the disciples to follow him.

Be certain that, if you listen to his call and follow him, you will find great joy and happiness. Be generous, take courage, and remember his promise: "My yoke is easy and my burden light" (Mt 11: 30).

Young people: Christ needs you and calls you to help millions of your brothers and sisters achieve their salvation. Open your heart to Christ, to his law of love. Place no conditions on God's accessibility to you, have no fear to respond definitively, because love and friendship never fade.

 

11. Bn chí, trung thành

 

It is easy to be consistent for a day or two. It is difficult and impor­tant to be consistent for one's whole life. It is easy to be consistent in the hour of enthusiasm; it is difficult to be so in the hour of tribulation. And only a consistency that lasts throughout the whole of life can be called faithfulness.

His calling is a declaration of love. Your response is commit­ment, friendship, love manifested in the gift of one's own life as a definitive following. Being faithful to Christ is loving him with all of one's soul and all of one's heart in such a way that this love becomes the standard and motive of all our actions.

Christ's fidelity achieves its full and highest expression on the cross. As a result renunciation and mortification are indispensable. Without a demanding asceticism and without a disposition to serve him deeply rooted in your heart, without habitual self forgetfulness, it becomes impossible to truly love and to be con­cerned solely with the interests of Christ.

Allow me to open my heart to you and say that the principal concern of every priest must be fidelity and loyalty to his own vocation, as a disciple who wants to follow in total self-surrender and missionary readiness, without conditions or frontiers. Only in the light of this surrender can the other problems be faced.

 

12. Ơn gọi luôn là Ơn gọi tông đồ

 

Jesus went in search of the men and women of his time. He needs laborers ready to work in his vineyard. May you, the Catholic young people of the world, not fail him. In your hands, carry the cross of Christ; on your lips, the words of life; in your hearts, the saving grace of the Lord.

God calls whomever he wills through a free initiative of his love. But he wants to call through other persons. This is the way the Lord Jesus wants to call us. It was Andrew who called his brother Peter. Jesus called Phillip, but Phillip called Nathaniel (Jn 1: 33 fl:). We should not be afraid to directly suggest to a young or not so young person that the Lord may be calling them. It is an act of esteem and confidence. It can be a moment of light and of grace.

No Christian is exempt from his apostolic responsibility, no one can be substituted for in his personal apostolate. No human activity can remain foreign to your apostolic craving.

 

Many of your contemporaries do not know Christ, or do not know him well enough. You cannot, therefore, remain silent or indifferent. The harvest is indeed great and laborers are needed in abundance. Christ is counting on you and counting on your coop­eration. I invite you, therefore, to renew your apostolic commit­ment. Christ has need of you! Answer his call with the boldness and enthusiasm proper to your age.

 

13. Hoàn toàn dấn bước giữa ḷng thế giới

 

There is no vocation more religious than work. A Catholic layman or laywoman is someone who takes work seriously. Only Christianity has given a religious meaning to work and recognizes the spiritual value of technological progress.

Your institution has as its aim the sanctification of one's life, while remaining in the world at one's place of work and profes­sion: to live the Gospel in the world, while living immersed ill the world, but in order to transform it, and to redeem it with one's personal love for Christ. This is truly a great ideal. This, in fact, is the spirituality of Opus Dei: to live united with God, in the world, in whatever situation, seeking to better oneself with the help of grace, and making Jesus known with the witness of one's life.

What could be more beautiful and more enthusiastic than this ideal? You, who are immersed in and linked to this joyful and sor­rowful humanity, wish to love it, to enlighten it, to save it. May you always be blessed and encouraged in this intention of yours.

It is worth devoting oneself to man for Christ, in order to bring him to him, to raise him, to help him on his way to eternity. For the kingdom, it is worth living this precious value of Christianity, priestly celibacy.

Bear witness to Christ before your contemporaries. In this way you will fortify your lives as firm believers, persons fully committed to a great cause and you will be able to be led by the voice of the Holy Spirit. And if this voice calls you to a higher and more generous love do not be afraid.

With a burning heart, in conversation with the Lord, perhaps some of you have noticed that Jesus is asking more of you. Dear young people, I would like to tell each one of you: If such a call comes into your heart, do not remain silent. Allow it to mature into a genuine vocation. Cooperate with this calling by means of prayer and faithfully fulfilling the commandments. You well know, there is a great need for vocations ... of committed lay persons who follow Jesus more closely. "The harvest is abundant, but the laborers are few. Pray, therefore, to the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into his harvest" (Lk 10: 2). This is the program that the Church sets before you, young people. May you also pray. And, if the fruit of this prayer of the Church should bloom in the depths of your heart, listen to the Teacher who tells you: "Follow me." Do not be afraid. Give him, if he asks it of you, your heart and your entire life.

 

14. Ơn gọi bậc Hôn nhân

 

The whole history of mankind is the history of the need of lov­ing and being loved. The heart symbol of friendship and love has also its norms, its ethics. To make room for the heart in the har­monious construction of your personality has nothing to do with mawkishness or even sentimentality.

Young people, raise your eyes more often towards Jesus Christ! Do not be afraid! Jesus came not to condemn love but to free love from its ambiguities and its counterfeits. The human being is a corporeal being. The body is not just one object among other objects. It is, in the first place, someone, in the sense that it is a manifestation of the person, a way of being present to others, of communication, of extremely varied expression. The body is a word, a language. What a marvel, and what a risk at the same time! Young men and women, have very great respect for your body and for the bodies of others! Let your body be in the service of your inner self ! Let your gestures, your looks, always be the reflection of your soul!

The union of bodies has always been the most forceful lan­guage in which two beings can communicate with each other. That is why this language, which touches the sacred mystery of man and woman, demands that the gestures of love should never be performed without the conditions of a complete and definitive assumption of responsibility for the partner, and that the commit­ment should be undertaken publicly in marriage.

And to those of you whom Christ is calling to the vocation of married life I say this: be assured of the Church's love for you. Christian family life and lifelong fidelity in marriage are so needed in the world today.

Deep within yourself, listen to your conscience which calls you to be pure: it is a serious thing to commit oneself in marriage: it is the foundation of a sturdy building. A home is not warmed by the fire of pleasure which burns quickly like a pile of withered grass. Passing encounters are only a caricature of love; they injure hearts and mock God's plan.

 

What does Jesus want of me? To what is he calling me? What is the meaning of his call for me?

For the great majority of you human love will present itself as a
way of self-realization in the formation of a family. This is why, in the
name of Christ, I want to ask you: Are you prepared to follow the call
of Christ through the Sacrament of Marriage, so as to be procreators
of new life, people who will form new pilgrims to the heavenly city?
The family is a mystery of love, because it collaborates directly
in the creative work of God. Beloved young people, a large sector
of society does not accept Christ's teachings, and, consequently, it
takes other roads: hedonism, divorce, abortion, birth control, and
contraceptive methods. These ways of understanding li
fe are ill
clear contrast to the Law of God and the teachings of the Church.
To follow Christ faithfully means putting the Gospel message into
practice, and this also implies chastity, the defense of life, and also the indissolubility of the matrimonial bond, which is not a mere contract which can be arbitrarily broken.

Living in the "permissiveness" of the modern world, which denies or minimizes the authenticity of Christian principles, it is easy and attractive to breathe in this contaminated mentality and give in to the passing desire. But, bear in mind that those who act in this way neither follow Christ nor love him. In the Christian framework, life is stronger than death. Therefore I ask you again: Are you prepared to protect human life with the maximum care at every moment, even at the most difficult times? Are you pre­pared, as young Christians, to live and defend love through indis­soluble marriage, to protect the stability of the family, a stability which favors the balanced upbringing of children, under the pro­tection of a paternal and maternal love, which complement each other? This is the Christian witness that is expected of the major­ity of you, young men and women.

 

15. Ơn gọi Linh mục

 

I am often asked, especially by young people, why I became a priest. Maybe some of you would like to ask the same question. Let me try briefly to reply. I must begin by saying that it is impos­sible to explain entirely. For it remains a mystery, even to myself. How does one explain the ways of God? Yet, I know that, at a cer­tain point in my life, I became convinced that Christ was saying to me what he had said to thousands before me: "Come, follow me!" There was a clear sense that what I heard in my heart was no human voice, nor was it just an idea of my own. Christ was call­ing me to serve him as a priest.

And you can probably tell that I am deeply grateful to God for my vocation to the priesthood. Nothing means more to me or gives me greater joy than to celebrate Mass each day and to serve God's people in the Church. That has been true ever since the day of my ordination as a priest. Nothing has ever changed this, not even becoming Pope.

It is with deep emotion that I recall the meeting that took place in Nagasaki [Japan] between a recently arrived missionary and a group of people, who after making sure that he was a Catholic priest, told him: "We have been waiting for you for centuries." They had been without priest or churches or public worship for well over two hundred years. And yet, in spite of these adverse circumstances, the Christian faith had not been extinguished; it had been handed down in the family from generation to generation.

The priestly vocation is essentially a call to sanctity, in the form that derives from the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Sanctity is intimacy with God; it is the imitation of Christ, poor, chaste and humble; it is unreserved love for souls and self-giving to their true good; it is love for the Church which is holy and wants us to be holy, because such is the mission that Christ has entrusted to it. Each one of you must be holy also in order to help your brothers pursue their vocation to sanctity.

You wish to become priests, or at least you wish to discover if you are really called. And so the question is a serious one, because you have to prepare thoroughly, with clear intentions and an austere formation.

His calling is a declaration of love. Your response is commit­ment, friendship, and love manifested in the gift of your own life as a definitive following and as a permanent sharing in his mission and in his consecration. To make up your mind is to love him with all of your soul and all of your heart in such a way that this love becomes the standard and motive of all your actions. From this moment on, live the Eucharist fully; be persons for whom the Holy Mass, Communion, and Eucharistic adoration are the center and summit of their whole life. Offer Christ your heart in medi­tation and personal prayer which is the foundation of the spiritual life.

The world looks to the priest, because it looks to Jesus! No one can see Christ; but everyone sees the priest, and through him they wish to catch a glimpse of the Lord! Immense is the grandeur of the Lord! Immense is the grandeur and dignity of the priest!

"Pray, therefore, to the Lord of the harvest that he send har­vesters into his harvest. ..:' Considering that the Eucharist is the greatest gift our Lord gives to his Church, we must ask for priests, since the priesthood is a gift for the Church. We must pray insis­tently for this gift. We must ask for it on our knees.

Called, consecrated, sent. This triple dimension explains and determines your conduct and your lifestyle. You are "set apart"; "segregated," but not "separated." What would separate you, would be to forget or to overlook the meaning of the consecration that characterizes your priesthood. To be but one more in your profes­sion, in your lifestyle, in your way of living, in your political oblig­ations, would not help you to filly carry out your mission. You would betray your own faithful who want you to be priests through and through.

 

16. Ơn gọi Tu sĩ

 

If someone among you hears Christ's call to a complete gift of self in the religious life, do not reject such a noble, though demand­ing, proposal. Have the courage to say yes generously and firmly; this can give an incomparable depth of meaning to your whole life.

A religious vocation is a gift, freely given and freely received. It is a profound expression of the love of God for you, and, on your part, it requires in turn a total love for Christ. Thus, the whole life of a religious is aimed at strengthening the bond of love which was first forged in the Sacrament of Baptism. You are called to do this in religious consecration through the profession of the evan­gelical counsels of chastity, poverty, and obedience.

I want to reaffirm strongly the eminently apostolic role of cloistered nuns. To leave the world to devote oneself in solitude to deeper and constant prayer is none other than a special way of being an apostle. It would be an error to consider cloistered nuns as creatures separated from their contemporaries, isolated and seemingly cut off from the world and the Church. Rather, they are present to them, and in a deeper way, with the same tenderness as that of Christ. It is therefore not surprising that the bishops of the new churches solicit, as an eminent grace, the possibility of receiv­ing a monastery of contemplative religious, even if workers for the active apostolate are still in such insufficient number.

 

Experience shows that often the example of a man or woman religious has a decisive impact on the direction of a young per­sonality which has been able to discover in this fidelity, integrity, and joy the concrete example of an ideal way to live.

Today's young people are not, as is too easily said, closed to the evangelical call. They may certainly move more spontaneously towards new institutes, however, they are no less attracted to older congregations who demonstrate vitality and remain faithful to rad­ical and adequately presented demands. We have long had proof of this: we need only to consult the history of the Church. Often adap­tations are necessary, but those inspired by a relaxation or which lead to it, absolutely cannot attract the young who are capable of radical giving, even if at times these capacities seem hesitant or blocked.

 

I want to acknowledge here in a special way four hundred young contemplative nuns from Spain who have told me of their wish to be present at this meeting. I am certain that they are very united to all of us through their prayer in the silence of the clois­ter. Seven years ago, many of them attended the meeting which I had with young people in the Santiago Bernabeu  Stadium in Madrid. Afterwards, responding generously to the call of Christ, they have followed him for life. Now they dedicate themselves to praying for the Church, but above all for you, young men and women, that you also may be able to respond with generosity to the call of Jesus.

 

17. Gương mẫu của Mẹ Maria

 

MY MESSAGE to young people is, above all, an invitation and an exhortation. My desire is for the young people of the entire world to come closer to Mary. She is the bearer of an indeli­ble youthfulness and beauty that never wanes. May young people have increasing confidence in her and may they entrust the life just opening before them to her.

Look to Mary to see how to respond to Jesus' call. First, she kept all things [concerning that call], pondering them, in her heart. She also went in haste to serve her cousin Elizabeth. Both attitudes are essential parts of our response to the Lord: prayer and action. That is what the Church expects of her young people. That is what I have come here to ask of you. Mary, Mother of the Church and our mother, will help us to hear her Divine Son.

What does Mary, our mother and teacher, have to tell us? In the Gospel we find a statement in which Mary certainly shows herself to be a teacher. It is the statement she makes at the wed­ding feast of Cana. After having said to her Son: "They have no wine;' she says to the waiters: "Do whatever he tells you."

"Do whatever he tells you." In these words Mary expresses, above all, the deepest secret of her life. The whole of her person is in these words. Her life, in fact, has been a total yes to the Lord. A yes filled with joy and trust. And these words enclose a very impor­tant message, relevant to every man of every age. This "do what­ever he tells you" means: listen to Jesus, my Son, act on his word and put your trust in him. Learn to say yes to the Lord in every sit­uation of your life. This message of great comfort is one of which we all have need.

You must welcome Mary into your young lives as the apostle John took her "to his own home." May you allow her to be your mother. May you open your hearts and consciences to her. May she always help you find Christ, to "follow him," on all the paths of your lives.

"Behold, the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me accord­ing to your word."

This was the moment of Mary's vocation. The very possibility of Christmas hung upon this moment. Without Mary's yes, Jesus would not have been born.

 

 

18. Cha m quan tâm đến Ơn gi ca con cái

 

ADDRESS PARENTS as well. May faith and readiness never be I lacking in your hearts, if the Lord should bless you by calling a son or a daughter to missionary service. May you give thanks to God! Indeed, see that this call is prepared through family prayer, through education rich in spirit and enthusiasm, through partici­pation in parochial and diocesan activities, through involvement in associations and volunteer work.

The family that cultivates a missionary spirit in its lifestyle and in education itself, prepares good soil for the seed of the divine call and, at the same time, strengthens the loving ties and Christian virtues of its members.

The Christian family, as the "domestic Church," forms the original and fundamental school for training in the faith. The father and mother receive, in the Sacrament of Matrimony, the grace and the responsibility of providing a Christian education for their children, to whom they bear witness and transmit, at one and the same time, human and religious values. In learning their first words, the children also learn to praise God, whom they feel to be very close as a loving and provident Father. As they learn the first expressions of love, the children also learn to open themselves to others, perceiving in their own self-giving the meaning of human living.

Here is Jesus, who returns to Nazareth and is obedient to them, to Mary and Joseph. That "obedience" signifies filial obedi­ence, but also, at the same time, an obedient opening to humanity, which always needs to learn, above all in the family. Parents must behave in such a way that children can find in them a living model of mature humanity -and can, on the basis of this model, gradually develop their own human and Christian maturity.

For man, to generate a child is above all to "receive it from God": it is a matter of welcoming from God as a gift the child that is generated. For this reason, children belong first to God, and then to their parents: and this is a truth which is rich in implications for both parents and children.

To be instruments of the heavenly Father in the work of forming their own children -here is found the inviolable limit that parents must respect in carrying out their mission. They must never consider themselves "owners" of their children, but rather they must educate them, paying constant attention to the privi­leged relationship that their children have with their Father in heaven. In the last analysis, as with Jesus, it is his business that they must "be about" more than that of their earthly parents.

The family is for this reason also the first and fundamental set­ting in which the Christian vocation sprouts, is formed, and is manifested. Just as Jesus' vocation was manifested in the family of Nazareth, so every vocation today is born and manifests itself also in the family. And when this general vocation is revealed as a par­ticular calling to "leave everything" then the Christian family is revealed here also, and above all here, as the privileged place where the seed placed by God in the heart of the children can take root and mature; the place where the participation of the parents in the priestly mission of Christ himself is revealed in its most elevated degree. Vocation touches the very roots of the human soul. It is an interior calling of God directed to the person: to the unique and irreplaceable person.

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