At our parish, we have a beautiful practice that our priest instituted when he came five years ago. Each Sunday a family is asked to take home the chalice, place it in an area of prominence, and pray for an increase in vocations and for those who have already dedicated their lives to Christ and His Holy Church. Called the Elijah’s Cup, it is eagerly sought out in our parish. It is always an honor when our family has been allowed the privilege of praying with this sacred cup in our home.
With the cup comes a journal in which all the families who have taken the cup home can write their prayer intentions, their thoughts, their hopes, and whatever else sits on their hearts. Many have shared prayers and drawings as well. It is a blessing to be able to read through the journal and pray along with so many others before us. To know that others are praying devoutly for vocations is heartwarming! To see the journey the cup has been on is moving as well. It is a link between each of us throughout the week as we are separated by distance, work, and other obligations.
When my children see the chalice being wrapped up in its purple bag after Mass they look eagerly at me to see if it is our turn again to bring the cup home. When I shake my head at them, they frown in disappointment. If they could have the cup here all the time they would! It makes me proud to know they are eager to use the cup as a visual reminder of our prayers for more priests and religious. It makes my heart swell with love to know they care so deeply about our priests that they are so eager to pray for them individually as well. Of course, we know we don’t need the Elijah Cup to pray for our priests, but to hold the cup in our hands that has held Christ’s blood at Mass while praying for our spiritual father who has held it so gently in his hands… well, it just brings our prayer life to a whole other level!
The Elijah Cup is a reminder to pray for our priests and for an increase in vocations. Often this is something many people fail to see as important. Doesn’t God just call good men and women to His service? Why should we pray about it? The reason we pray is that while God is faithful in His calling, many are not answering the tug they feel deep within. They feel there will be no support; they worry about what society will say; they know how hard the job is, how the media portrays not only the Church but also her priests and they are scared; they are dazzled by the ways of the world and don’t want to leave the “good life”; there is often so many other things going on in their lives that they fail to hear God gently calling them. Whatever the reasons, they may fail to answer the call. Our prayers are said not so that God will call more priests and religious, but so that those He is calling will answer!
As Catholics, we are encouraged to pray for vocations. Our parish priest is often animated when he speaks about praying for vocations, smiling from ear to ear, saying that many will pray with great earnestness and zeal, but will also add in a little clause, “But just not my son, Lord!” The congregation laughs, but there is seriousness to his words. When we pray for vocations we must be willing to offer our sons and daughters to God’s service. We must encourage our children not only to listen for God’s call, but to act on it as well, if they feel He is tugging on their hearts to become priests, monks, deacons, sisters or other religious. We must expose them to the beauty that service to God and His Church bring not only to those who are called, but to the entire community they serve. St. John Vianney said, “The priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus.” Let us instill a great love for the heart of Jesus in our children so that if they hear Christ calling them they will instinctively flee to His sacred heart!
As we near Father’s Day let us pray in thanksgiving for those men who have become our spiritual fathers. Their dedication and willingness to answer God’s call enables us to become closer to God in so many ways, especially through the Holy Eucharist. Let us also pray for more young men to open their hearts and minds to the idea that God may be calling them to serve Him and His people through the priesthood. With or without the Elijah Cup in our homes we must continue to pray for holy men and women to answer the call to religious vocation!
A prayer for vocations:
Heavenly Father, Your divine Son taught us to pray to the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into His vineyard. We earnestly beg You to bless our Diocese and our world with many priests and religious men and women who will love You fervently, and gladly and courageously spend their lives in service to Your Son’s Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We pray that their lives may be always centered on our Eucharistic Lord; that they be always faithful to the Holy Father; and that they may be devoted sons and daughters of Mary, our Mother, in making You known and loved; and that all may attain Heaven. Bless our families and our children and choose from our homes those whom You desire for this holy work. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
You can find more prayers for vocations, including a beautiful prayer for priests written by St. Therese the Little Flower here.
© 2014. Michelle Fritz. All rights reserved.