CNS PHOTO | PAUL HARING
Pope Benedict greets the crowd in St. Peter's Square after praying the Regina Coeli April 29.
VATICAN CITY – People often do not hear God's call to dedicate themselves to him because they are either too distracted or afraid they would no longer be free if they answered the call, Pope Benedict said.
"Let us pray that all young people pay attention to the voice of God, who speaks to their hearts and calls them to detach themselves from everything in order to serve him," he said April 29, the World Day of Prayer for Vocations.
Before praying the Regina Coeli with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square, the pope said, "The Lord is always calling us, but very often we don't listen."
"We are distracted by many things, by other voices that are more superficial and because we are afraid to listen to the Lord's voice because we think that it can take away our freedom."
But everyone on the earth is deeply loved by God, the pope said. As soon as people become aware of that love, their lives change by becoming a response to God's love, which in turn means human freedom is fully realized.
The pope asked that the universal Church and every local parish or community become a lush garden "in which the seeds of vocations that God spreads in abundance can germinate and ripen."
He asked that everyone help cultivate this garden so that those who do hear God's call can follow through with joy and generosity.
Earlier in the day, Pope Benedict ordained nine priests in St. Peter's Basilica.
The pope said these men "are not any different from other young people."
The only thing that sets them apart is that "they have been profoundly touched by the beauty of God's love and could not do anything but respond to it with their whole lives," he said.