We are all aware of the need for vocations to the priesthood, the religious life and to the deaconate. But sometimes we forget just how powerful praying for an increase in vocations can be. The purpose of the "Elijah Cup Program" is to provide a focal point for prayer specifically for an increase in vocations.
In 1 Kings 17, during a drought, Elijah tells the poor widow of Zarapeth that if she makes him a small loaf of bread with the last of her flour and oil, her "jar of flour will not go empty, or the jug of oil run dry, until the Lord sends rain upon the earth". In faith, the widow baked the bread and fed Elijah. For the next year, the widow, her son, and Elijah ate bread made from the bowl of flour and jug of oil.
If we pray with the faith of the widow of Zarpeth, our cup will never run dry! We will always have priests to bring us Jesus in the Eucharist.
HOW THE ELIJAH CUP PROGRAM WORKS
At a specific Mass the Celebrant will use a consecrated chalice, as the Elijah Cup. After purifying the Elijah Cup at the end of Communion, the priest calls a family, individual, or couple forward to receive the Elijah Cup. They receive a special blessing and take the cup home, putting it in a place of honor.
Each day for a week, during designated prayer time, the family, couple or individual pray for an increase in perseverance of vocations. The following Sunday they return the Elijah Cup with the gifts of bread and wine at the Offertory.
A prayer journal also travels with the Elijah Cup. Each week the family, individual or couple that has the Elijah Cup, enters a thought, prayer, or scripture verse. Over time, this diary becomes a spiritual journal for the parish. Also included will be special prayers for vocations and a Scriptural Rosary along with Rosary beads.
Praying for vocations is the most powerful way to support vocations. A vocation is a call from the Holy Spirit, a gift from God that is nurtured in prayer. When we pray for vocations, we lift up to our Father those men and women who He is calling in a very special way. May those who bring the cup home continue to pray for vocations daily.
Lord, you told us that "the harvest indeed is great, but the laborers are few. Pray, therefore, the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into His fields." We ask You, Lord, to strengthen us as we follow the vocation to which You have called us. We pray particularly for those called to serve as priests, sisters, brothers, and deacons: Those whom You have called, those You are calling now, those You will call in the future. May they be open and responsive to the call of serving Your people. We ask this through Christ, our Lord, Amen.