Rev. John A. Hardon, S.J.
When Mary told the angel at the Annunciation, "Behold, I am the Handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word," she became the patroness of every priest and religious until the end of time. Her acceptance of God's invitation to become His Mother made her the Mother of all vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
When she conceived Jesus Christ, she brought into the world the one from whom every vocation is derived. Except for Him, no one would be called, and except for His call, no one could respond. Mary is, therefore, Mother of Vocations because she is the Mother of the Great High Priest who calls others to share in His priesthood, and she is Mother of the First Religious who invites others to follow in His footsteps.
Mary is Mother of Vocations also by her example. It is by imitating her practice of faith, hope and charity that men and women are inspired to give themselves to her Son in the priesthood or the lifetime practice of the counsels. Only believers have a vocation; only those who trust implicitly in God's promises respond to God's call; and above all only those who love God in others deeply are preserved in priestly or religious commitment. In all of these, Mary is their model, and the more devoted they are to her, the more secure is their consecration.
Finally, Mary is the Mother of Vocations by her heavenly intercession at the Throne of God. It is through her maternal prayers that Christ gives certain people the grace to give themselves entirely to His Service. She obtains from Him the grace for them to be called; but she also tells them, as she told the servants at Cana, to be sure to do whatever He tells you.
There is no more effective way of fostering vocations than asking the Mother of Jesus to ask her Son to extend the invitation. And there is no more effective way of remaining firm in the priesthood and the religious state than to beg the same Mother for the grace of perseverance.
"Mary, Mother of Vocations, pray for us," should be our daily invocation.
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