Yesterday evening I was over at the Holy Ghost Church in Balham to speak to the Seekers Meeting organised by Fr Stephen Langridge, our vocations director in the Archdiocese of Southwark. Fr Langridge has a variety of activities to promote vocations; the "Seekers Meetings" are for those who are definitely considering applying to the seminary. There are other events for those who are not yet at that stage.
He left me free to choose a topic to speak on. I chose to talk about the life of St Charles Borromeo and its significance for the priesthood today. The saintly archbishop of Milan lived through a time when the Church was struggling to renew priestly life and ministry as an essential component of the renewal of the life of the Church as a whole in response to the Protestant reformation.
There are many parallels with today when we look to revitalise the priesthood in response to the challenge of secularism. I spoke especially of Borromeo's encouragement of a solid rule of life for priests: prayer, the divine office, daily Mass, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, a solid asceticism and regular confession.
I am filled with Gaudium et Spes when I meet both the seminarians and those who are considering applying for the seminary. They are serious young men who wish to live wholly for Christ and to learn whatever it takes to follow him wholeheartedly.