On Friday, November 4, 2011, the Holy Father celebrated Vespers in a very full St. Peter’s Basilica to open the new academic year for all of the Pontifical Universities in Rome. Vespers was celebrated on the feast of St. Charles Borromeo, the patron saint of seminary studies. Although the Pontifical Universities are attended by seminaries, religious, and the lay faithful, the Pope chose to address his comments particularly to the spiritual and academic formation of priests.
In his homily, the Pope spoke especially on the conditions necessary for a priest to be fruitful in his ministry to shepherd the community. The Pope underlined three factors that aid a priest’s ability to grow in accord with Christ in his own priestly life. First, he must encounter the Lord Jesus, he must be struck by the very person of Christ, his words and actions. The priest must be “affascinato”–fascinated with–the person of Christ. In this way, he is capable of hearing Jesus’ voice above all of the voices of the world. The priest is called to be the instrument of Christ’s presence into his own time, but he can do so only by that intimate relation with Jesus Christ that is friendship.
Second, priests are called to be “amministratori dei Misteri di Dio”–administrators of the mysteries of God, not for themselves alone but for the people of God. Just as the priest himself is chosen by God in the sacrament of Ordination, so he must choose daily to give himself over to the love of God and of neighbor. To be a priest is to follow in the complete self-gift of the love of Christ expressed on the cross, remembering that growth in ministry is characterized not by success but by the cross.
Finally, the logic of the foregoing means that what it means to be a priest is to serve, especially in the example of one’s own life. This life of service is shown especially in the priest’s careful attention to his flock, his faithful celebration of the liturgy, and his ready solicitude for all his brethren, especially the poor. It is in living a life of “carità pastorale”–pastoral charity–that the priest truly lives his vocation.
Thank You, tremendously! And, God Bless You in all you do and the lives you have given for the Lord and His People! Your reward will be GREAT in Heaven!
Summa Catechetica, "Neque enim quaero intelligere ut credam, sed credo ut intelligam." – St Anselm, "Let your religion be less of a theory, and more of a love affair." -G.K. Chesterton, "I want a laity, not arrogant, not rash in speech, not disputatious, but men and women who know their religion, who enter into it, who know just where they stand, who know what they hold and what they do not, and who know their creed so well that they can give an account of it."- Bl John Henry Newman, Cong. Orat., "Encounter, not confrontation; attraction, not promotion; dialogue, not debate." -cf Pope Francis, “You will not see anyone who is really striving after his advancement who is not given to spiritual reading. And as to him who neglects it, the fact will soon be observed by his progress.” -St Athanasius, "To convert someone, go and take them by the hand and guide them." -St Thomas Aquinas, OP. 1 saint ruins ALL the cynicism in Hell & on Earth. “When we pray we talk to God; when we read God talks to us…All spiritual growth comes from reading and reflection.” -St Isidore of Seville, “Also in some meditations today I earnestly asked our Lord to watch over my compositions that they might do me no harm through the enmity or imprudence of any man or my own; that He would have them as His own and employ or not employ them as He should see fit. And this I believe is heard.” -GM Hopkins, SJ, "Only God knows the good that can come about by reading one good Catholic book." — St. John Bosco, "Why don't you try explaining it to them?" – cf St Peter Canisius, SJ, Doctor of the Church, Doctor of the Catechism, "Already I was coming to appreciate that often apologetics consists of offering theological eye glasses of varying prescriptions to an inquirer. Only one prescription will give him clear sight; all the others will give him at best indistinct sight. What you want him to see—some particular truth of the Faith—will remain fuzzy to him until you come across theological eye glasses that precisely compensate for his particular defect of vision." -Karl Keating, "The more perfectly we know God, the more perfectly we love Him." -St Thomas Aquinas, OP, ST, I-II,67,6 ad 3, “But always when I was without a book, my soul would at once become disturbed, and my thoughts wandered." —St. Teresa of Avila, "Let those who think I have said too little and those who think I have said too much, forgive me; and let those who think I have said just enough thank God with me." –St. Augustine