The priests

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The priests

  1. 1. 16.The PriestsWhat does one gain of becoming a priest? What are they? Moreover, recent years have been aired a fewscandalous fact that, although a minority, do not leave open the question about the meaning of priesthood.Benedict XVI speaks frequently and priests. Return again and again to the essence: the mysterious andunique union between Christ and the priest. This friendship and confidence reached its height: the priestmay use the I of Jesus Christ.Some words of Pope stop to illustrate the priests mission in our world.
  2. 2. 1.16 That is to be a priest?.............................................................................................................................................................................. 4 The deep meaning of the being priest ................................................................................................................................................................ 4 1.16.a. ............................................................................................................................................................................................................ 4 “Do not be afraid. I do not leave you. You do not leave me” .............................................................................................................................. 4 1.16.b ............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 4 1.16.c.............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 4 1.16.e ............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 4 We can speak with his "me" ................................................................................................................................................................................ 4 1.16.f .............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 4 1.16.g ............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 5 WHAT IS TO BE A PRIEST? ................................................................................................................................................................................... 5 1.16.h ............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 5 1.16.i .............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 52.16 CRUCIFIX - PRIEST, A SPECIAL UNION ...................................................................................................................................................... 5 To pray very much and well joins us ................................................................................................................................................................... 5 2.16.a ............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 5 2.16.b ............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 5 2.16.c.............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 6 To do of Jesus the heart of the world.................................................................................................................................................................. 6 2.16.d ............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 6 Personal I form that of Jesus ............................................................................................................................................................................... 6 2.16.e ............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 63.16 THE MYSTERIOUS MOMENT OF THE CHANGE ......................................................................................................................................... 6 3.16.a ............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 6 3.16.b ............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 6 3.16.c.............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 6 3.16.d ............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 64.16 THE HANDS OF THE PRIEST ..................................................................................................................................................................... 7 4.16.a ............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 7 4.16.b ............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 75.16 In the altar .............................................................................................................................................................................................. 7 We are “in the person of other one”................................................................................................................................................................... 7 5.16.a ............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 7 5.16.b ............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 7 The way of celebrating ........................................................................................................................................................................................ 7 5.16.c.............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 7 The amice ............................................................................................................................................................................................................ 7 5.16.d ............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 7 The chasuble ....................................................................................................................................................................................................... 7 5.16.e ............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 7 The Alb ................................................................................................................................................................................................................ 8 5.16.f .............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 8 5.16.g ............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 8 To celebrate dresses of the love ......................................................................................................................................................................... 8 5.16.h ............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 86.16 CALLED TO .............................................................................................................................................................................................. 8 Called to remain with the Gentleman ................................................................................................................................................................. 8 6.16.a ............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 8 Called to serve the Gentleman ............................................................................................................................................................................ 8 6.16.b ............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 9 Called to being servants of the happiness ........................................................................................................................................................... 9 6.16.c.............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 9 Called to give hope .............................................................................................................................................................................................. 9 6.16.d ............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 9 I send you: Always in movement ......................................................................................................................................................................... 9 6.16.e ............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 9 The power to absolve .......................................................................................................................................................................................... 9 6.16.f .............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 9 2
  3. 3. 7.16 Some characteristics ............................................................................................................................................................................... 9 To guard .............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 9 7.16.a ............................................................................................................................................................................................................. 9 EUCHARISTIC LOVE .............................................................................................................................................................................................. 9 7.16.b ........................................................................................................................................................................................................... 10 The center of the day ........................................................................................................................................................................................ 10 7.16.c............................................................................................................................................................................................................ 10 Sacrament of the Eucharist ............................................................................................................................................................................... 10 7.16.d ........................................................................................................................................................................................................... 10 To be An Eucharist ............................................................................................................................................................................................. 10 7.16.e ........................................................................................................................................................................................................... 10 Our obedience ................................................................................................................................................................................................... 10 7.16.f ............................................................................................................................................................................................................ 10 Mary .................................................................................................................................................................................................................. 10 7.16.g ........................................................................................................................................................................................................... 108.16Some dangers ........................................................................................................................................................................................ 10 8.16.a ........................................................................................................................................................................................................... 10 8.16.b ........................................................................................................................................................................................................... 119.16 Years of the seminar ............................................................................................................................................................................. 11 9.16.a ........................................................................................................................................................................................................... 11 9.16.b ........................................................................................................................................................................................................... 11 9.16.c............................................................................................................................................................................................................ 11 9.16.d ........................................................................................................................................................................................................... 11 9.16.e ........................................................................................................................................................................................................... 1110.16 DEDICATE THEM IN THE TRUTH ........................................................................................................................................................... 11 10.16.a ......................................................................................................................................................................................................... 11 10.16.b ......................................................................................................................................................................................................... 12 10.16.c.......................................................................................................................................................................................................... 12 10.16.d ......................................................................................................................................................................................................... 12 3
  4. 4. 1.16 That is to be a priest?The deep meaning of the being priestI no longer call you servants but friends. This is the profound meaning of being a priest: becoming the friend of Jesus Christ. For this friendshipwe must daily recommit ourselves.Friendship means sharing in thought and will. We must put into practice this communion of thought with Jesus, as St Paul tells us in his Letterto the Philippians (cf. 2: 2-5). And this communion of thought is not a purely intellectual thing, but a sharing of sentiments and will, hence, alsoof actions. This means that we should know Jesus in an increasingly personal way, listening to him, living together with him, staying with him.Listening to him - in lectio divina, that is, reading Sacred Scripture in a non-academic but spiritual way; thus, we learn to encounter Jesuspresent, who speaks to us. We must reason and reflect, before him and with him, on his words and actions. The reading of Sacred Scripture isprayer, it must be prayer - it must emerge from prayer and lead to prayer St. Peters Basilica. Holy Thursday April 13, 2006 1.16.a.“Do not be afraid. I do not leave you. You do not leave me”In the sacramental gesture of the imposition of hands by the Bishop, it was the Lord himself who laid his hands upon us. This sacramental signsums up an entire existential process.Once, like the first disciples, we encountered the Lord and heard his words: "Follow me!" Perhaps, to start with, we followed him somewhathesitantly, looking back and wondering if this really was the road for us. And at some point on the journey, we may have had the sameexperience as Peter after the miraculous catch; in other words, we may have been frightened by its size, by the size of the task and by theinadequacy of our own poor selves, so that we wanted to turn back. "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord" (Lk 5: 8).Then, however, with great kindness, he took us by the hand, he drew us to himself and said to us: "Do not fear! I am with you. I will notabandon you, do not leave me!".And more than just once, the same thing that happened to Peter may have happened to us: while he was walking on the water towards theLord, he suddenly realized that the water was not holding him up and that he was beginning to sink. And like Peter we cried, "Lord, save me!"(Mt 14: 30). Seeing the elements raging on all sides, how could we get through the roaring, foaming waters of the past century, of the pastmillennium?But then we looked towards him... and he grasped us by the hand and gave us a new "specific weight": the lightness that derives from faithand draws us upwards. Then he stretched out to us the hand that sustains and carries us. He supports us. Let us fix our gaze ever anew on himand reach out to him. Let us allow his hand to take ours, and then we will not sink but will serve the life that is stronger than death and thelove that is stronger than hatred. 1.16.bLet us reflect once again on the signs in which the Sacrament has been given to us. At the centre is the very ancient rite of the imposition ofhands, with which he took possession of me, saying to me: "You belong to me".However, in saying this he also said: "You are under the protection of my hands. You are under the protection of my heart. You are kept safelyin the palm of my hands, and this is precisely how you find yourself in the immensity of my love. Stay in my hands, and give me yours". St. Peters Basilica. Holy Thursday April 13, 2006 1.16.cTo become priests in the Church means to enter into this self-donation of Christ through the Sacrament of Orders and to enter with all of onesbeing. Jesus gave his life for all, but in a special way he consecrated himself for those the Father had given to him, that they may beconsecrated in truth, that is in him, and could speak and act in his name, represent him, continue his saving actions: breaking the Bread of lifeand remitting sins. Thus, the Good Shepherd offered his life for all the sheep, but he gave it and gave it in a special way for those that hehimself, "with a feeling of favour", called and calls to follow him on the path of pastoral service. Then, in a singular way, Jesus prayed for SimonPeter, and sacrificed himself for him, because he would say to him one day, on the banks of the Sea of Tiberias: "Feed my sheep" (Jn 21: 16-17). In the same way, every priest is the recipient of Christs personal prayer, and only because of this he is able to collaborate with him infeeding the flock, which is completely and only the Lords. St. Peters Basilica. Holy Thursday April 13, 2006 1.16.eWe can speak with his "me"The Lord laid his hand upon us. He expressed the meaning of this gesture in these words: "No longer do I call you servants, for the servantdoes not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known toyou"(Jn15: 15). I no longer call you servants but friends: in these words one could actually perceive the institution of the priesthood. The Lord makes us hisfriends; he entrusts everything to us; he entrusts himself to us, so that we can speak with he himself - in persona Christi capitis.What trust! Hehas truly delivered himself into our hands St. Peters Basilica. Holy Thursday April 13, 2006 1.16.f 4
  5. 5. He supports us. Let us fix our gaze ever anew on him and reach out to him. Let us allow his hand to take ours, and then we will not sink but willserve the life that is stronger than death and the love that is stronger than hatred.Faith in Jesus, Son of the living God, is the means through which, time and again, we can take hold of Jesus hand and in which he takes ourhands and guides us.One of my favourite prayers is the request that the liturgy puts on our lips before Communion: "...never let me be separated from you". Let usask that we never fall away from communion with his Body, with Christ himself, that we do not fall away from the Eucharistic mystery. Let usask that he will never let go of our hands.... St. Peters Basilica. Holy Thursday April 13, 2006 1.16.gWHAT IS TO BE A PRIEST?Being friends with Jesus is par excellence always friendship with his followers. We can be friends of Jesus only in communion with the whole ofChrist, with the Head and with the Body; in the vigorous vine of the Church to which the Lord gives life.Sacred Scripture is a living and actual Word, thanks to the Lord, only in her. Without the living subject of the Church that embraces the ages,more often than not the Bible would have splintered into heterogeneous writings and would thus have become a book of the past. It iseloquent in the present only where the "Presence" is - where Christ remains for ever contemporary with us: in the Body of his Church.Being a priest means becoming an ever closer friend of Jesus Christ with the whole of our existence. The world needs God - not just any godbut the God of Jesus Christ, the God who made himself flesh and blood, who loved us to the point of dying for us, who rose and created withinhimself room for man. This God must live in us and we in him. This is our priestly call: only in this way can our action as priests bear fruit. St. Peters Basilica. Holy Thursday April 13, 2006 1.16.hI would like to end this Homily with a word on Andrea Santoro, the priest from the Diocese of Rome who was assassinated in Trebizond whilehe was praying.Cardinal Cé recounted to us during the Spiritual Exercises what Fr Santoro said. It reads: "I am here to dwell among these people and enableJesus to do so by lending him my flesh.... One becomes capable of salvation only by offering ones own flesh. The evil in the world must beborne and the pain shared, assimilating it into ones own flesh as did Jesus".Jesus assumed our flesh; let us give him our own. In this way hecan come into the world and transform it. Amen! St. Peters Basilica. Holy Thursday April 13, 2006 1.16.i2.16 CRUCIFIX - PRIEST, A SPECIAL UNIONTo pray very much and well joins usThe priest who prays a lot, and who prays well, is progressively drawn out of himself and evermore united to Jesus the Good Shepherd and theServant of the Brethren. In conforming to him, even the priest "gives his life" for the sheep entrusted to him. No one takes it from him: heoffers it himself, in unity with Christ the Lord, who has the power to give his life and the power to take it back not only for himself, but also forhis friends, bound to him in the Sacrament of Orders. Thus the life of Christ, Lamb and Shepherd, is communicated to the whole flock, throughthe consecrated ministers. St. Peters Basilica. Holy Thursday April 13, 2006 2.16.aThe Evangelists tell us that the Lord frequently withdrew - for entire nights - "to the mountains", to pray alone. We too need these"mountains": they are inner peaks that we must scale, the mountain of prayer.Only in this way does the friendship develop. Only in this way can we carry out our priestly service, only in this way can we take Christ and hisGospel to men and women. Activism by itself can even be heroic, but in the end external action is fruitless and loses its effectiveness unless itis born from deep inner communion with Christ. The time we spend on this is truly a time of pastoral activity, authentic pastoral activity. Thepriest must above all be a man of prayer.The world in its frenetic activism often loses its direction. Its action and capacities become destructive if they lack the power of prayer, fromwhich flow the waters of life that irrigate the arid land. I no longer call you servants, but friends. The core of the priesthood is being friends ofJesus Christ. Only in this way can we truly speak in persona Christi, even if our inner remoteness from Christ cannot jeopardize the validity ofthe Sacrament. Being a friend of Jesus, being a priest, means being a man of prayer. In this way we recognize him and emerge from theignorance of simple servants. We thus learn to live, suffer and act with him and for him. Saint Peter´s Basilica, Holy Thursday April 13, 2006. 2.16.bTo be completely enthralled by Christ! This was the goal of the entire life of Saint Paul, to whom we looked throughout the Pauline Year nowending; this was the goal of the entire ministry of the Curé of Ars, whom we shall invoke in particular during this Year for Priests; may it alsobe the primary goal for each and every one of us. Certainly, to be ministers at the service of the Gospel, study and careful, ongoing pastoral 5
  6. 6. and theological formation are useful and necessary, but even more necessary is that “knowledge of love” which can only be learned in a “heartto heart” encounter with Christ. For it is he who calls us to break the bread of his love, to forgive sins and to guide the flock in his name. Andfor that reason we must never step back from the source of love which is his heart, pierced on the Cross. Saint Peter´s Basilica, Holy Thursday April 13, 2006. 2.16.cTo do of Jesus the heart of the worldOnly in this way can we cooperate effectively in the mysterious “plan of the Father” which consists in “making Christ the heart of theworld”! This plan is accomplished in history as Jesus gradually becomes the Heart of human hearts, beginning with those called to be closestto him: namely his priests. We are reminded of this constant commitment by the “priestly promises” that we made on the day of ourordination and which we renew yearly on Holy Thursday during the Chrism Mass Saint Peter´s Basilica, Holy Thursday April 13, 2006. 2.16.dPersonal I form that of JesusThe Church needs holy priests; ministers capable of helping the faithful to experience the Lord’s merciful love, and convinced witnesses of thatlove. In the Eucharistic Adoration which is to follow our celebration of Vespers, let us ask the Lord to set the heart of every priest afire withthat “pastoral charity” which can make him one in heart and mind with Jesus the High Priest, and thus to imitate Jesus in complete self-giving. Saint Peter´s Basilica, Holy Thursday April 13, 2006. 2.16.e3.16 THE MYSTERIOUS MOMENT OF THE CHANGEThe reference to the ritual gesture of the imposition of hands is especially meaningful also for us who are gathered here. Indeed, it is also thecentral gesture of the rite of Ordination through which, in a little while, I shall confer on the candidates the dignity of the priesthood. It is asign inseparable from the prayer of which it is a silent prolongation. Without speaking, the consecrating Bishop and after him the other priests,place their hands on the heads of the ordinands, thereby expressing the invocation to God that he will pour out his Spirit upon them andtransform them, making them sharers in the priesthood of Christ. It is a matter of only a few seconds, a very short time, but full of anextraordinary spiritual intensity. Saint Peter´s Basilica, Holy Thursday April 13, 2006 3.16.aDear Ordinands, in the future you must always think back to this moment, to this gesture that has nothing magical about it and yet is full ofmystery, because this is the origin of your new mission. In that silent prayer the encounter between two freedoms comes into being: thefreedom of God, who works through the Holy Spirit and the freedom of man. The imposition of hands visually expresses the specific manner ofthis meeting: the Church, impersonated by the Bishop standing with extended hands, prays to the Holy Spirit to consecrate the candidate: thedeacon, on his knees, receives the imposition of hands and entrusts himself to this mediation. Altogether these gestures are important but theinvisible spiritual movement that they express is infinitely more important, a movement clearly evoked by the sacred silence that envelopseverything, internal and external. Saint Peter´s Basilica, Holy Thursday April 13, 2006. 3.16.bThe mystery of the priesthood of the Church lies in the fact that we, miserable human beings, by virtue of the Sacrament, can speak with his"I": in persona Christi. He wishes to exercise his priesthood through us. On Holy Thursday, we remember in a special way this moving mystery,which moves us anew in every celebration of the Sacrament.So that daily life will not dull what is great and mysterious, we need this specific commemoration, we need to return to that hour in which heplaced his hands upon us and made us share in this mystery. Let us reflect once again on the signs in which the Sacrament has been given tous. At the centre is the very ancient rite of the imposition of hands, with which he took possession of me, saying to me: "You belong to me".However, in saying this he also said: "You are under the protection of my hands. You are under the protection of my heart. You are kept safelyin the palm of my hands, and this is precisely how you find yourself in the immensity of my love. Stay in my hands, and give me yours". Saint Peter´s Basilica, Holy Thursday April 13, 2006. 3.16.cOn the eve of my priestly ordination, fifty-eight years ago, I opened the Sacred Scripture, because I wanted to receive once more a word fromthe Lord for that day and for my future journey as a priest. My gaze fell on this passage: “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth”. Then Irealized: the Lord is speaking about me, and he is speaking to me. This very same thing will be accomplished tomorrow in me. When all is saidand done, we are not consecrated by rites, even though rites are necessary. The bath in which the Lord immerses us is himself – the Truth inperson. Priestly ordination means: being immersed in him, immersed in the Truth. I belong in a new way to him and thus to others, “that hisKingdom may come”. Dear friends, in this hour of the renewal of promises, we want to pray to the Lord to make us men of truth, men of love,men of God. Let us implore him to draw us ever anew into himself, so that we may become truly priests of the New Covenant. Amen. Saint Peter´s Basilica, Holy Thursday April 13, 2006. 3.16.d 6
  7. 7. 4.16 THE HANDS OF THE PRIESTThen let us remember that our hands were anointed with oil, which is the sign of the Holy Spirit and his power. Why ones hands? The humanhand is the instrument of human action, it is the symbol of the human capacity to face the world, precisely to "take it in hand".The Lord has laid his hands upon us and he now wants our hands so that they may become his own in the world. He no longer wants them tobe instruments for taking things, people or the world for ourselves, to reduce them to being our possession, but instead, by putting ourselvesat the service of his love, they can pass on his divine touch.He wants our hands to be instruments of service, hence, an expression of the mission of the whole person who vouches for him and brings himto men and women. Saint Peter´s Basilica, Holy Thursday April 13, 2006. 4.16.aIf human hands symbolically represent human faculties and, in general, skill as power to dispose of the world, then anointed hands must be asign of the human capacity for giving, for creativity in shaping the world with love. It is for this reason, of course, that we are in need of theHoly Spirit. In the Old Testament, anointing is the sign of being taken into service: the king, the prophet, the priest, each does and gives morethan what derives from himself alone. In a certain way, he is emptied of himself, so as to serve by making himself available to One who isgreater than he. Saint Peter´s Basilica, Holy Thursday April 13, 2006. 4.16.b5.16 In the altarWe are “in the person of other one”In the sacred mysteries, he does not represent himself and does not speak expressing himself, but speaks for the Other, for Christ.Thus, in the Sacraments, he dramatically renders visible what being a priest means in general; what we have expressed with our "Adsum - I amready", during our consecration to the priesthood: I am here so that you may make use of me. We put ourselves at the disposal of the Onewho "died for all, that those who live might live no longer for themselves..." (II Cor 5: 15). Putting ourselves at Christs disposal means that weallow ourselves to be attracted within his "for all": in being with him we can truly be "for all".In persona Christi: at the moment of priestly Ordination, the Church has also made this reality of "new clothes" visible and comprehensible tous externally through being clothed in liturgical vestments. Vatican Basilica. Holy Thursday April 5, 2007. 5.16.aVesting ourselves in them must be more than an external event: it means entering ever anew into the "yes" of our office - into that "no longerI" of Baptism which Ordination to the priesthood gives to us in a new way and at the same time asks of us.The fact that we are standing at the altar clad in liturgical vestments must make it clearly visible to those present that we are there "in theperson of an Other". Just as in the course of time priestly vestments developed, they are a profound symbolic expression of what thepriesthood means. I would therefore like to explain to you, dear Confreres, on this Holy Thursday, the essence of the priestly ministry,interpreting the liturgical vestments themselves, which are precisely intended to illustrate what "putting on Christ", what speaking andacting in persona Christi, mean. Vatican Basilica. Holy Thursday April 5, 2007. 5.16.bThe way of celebratingPutting on priestly vestments was once accompanied by prayers that helped us understand better each single element of the priestly ministry. Vatican Basilica. Holy Thursday April 5, 2007 5.16.cThe amiceLet us start with the amice. In the past - and in monastic orders still today - it was first placed on the head as a sort of hood, thus becoming asymbol of the discipline of the senses and of thought necessary for a proper celebration of Holy Mass. My thoughts must not wander here andthere due to the anxieties and expectations of my daily life; my senses must not be attracted by what there, inside the church, mightaccidentally captivate the eyes and ears. My heart must open itself docilely to the Word of God and be recollected in the prayer of the Church,so that my thoughts may receive their orientation from the words of the proclamation and of prayer. And the gaze of my heart must be turnedtoward the Lord who is in our midst: this is what the ars celebrandi means: the proper way of celebrating. If I am with the Lord, then, withmy listening, speaking and acting, I will also draw people into communion with him. HOMILY. Vatican Basilica. Holy Thursday April 5, 2007 5.16.dThe chasubleOne additional brief word on the chasuble. The traditional prayer when one puts on thechasuble sees it as representing the yoke of the Lordwhich is imposed upon us as priests. And it recalls the words of Jesus, who invites us to take his yoke upon us and to learn from him who is"gentle and lowly in heart" (Mt 11: 29).Taking the Lords yoke upon us means first of all: learning from him. It means always being ready to goto his school. From him we must learn gentleness and meekness: the humility of God who shows himself in his being a man. Vatican Basilica. Holy Thursday April 5, 2007. 5.16.e 7
  8. 8. The AlbThe texts of the prayer expressed by the alb and the stole both move in the same direction. They call to mind the festive robes which thefather gave to the prodigal son who had come home dirty, in rags.When we approach the liturgy to act in the person of Christ, we all realize how distant we are from him; how much dirt there is in our lives. Healone can give us festive robes, can make us worthy to preside at his table, to be at his service.Thus, the prayers also recall the words of Revelation, which say that it was not due to their own merit that the robes of the 144,000 elect wereworthy of God. The Book of Revelation says that they had washed their robes in the Blood of the Lamb and thus made them white and shininglike light (cf. Rv 7: 14) Vatican Basilica. Holy Thursday April 5, 2007. 5.16.fWhen I was little, I used to ask myself about this: when one washes something in blood, it certainly does not become white! The answer is: the"Blood of the Lamb" is the love of the Crucified Christ. It is this love that makes our dirty clothes white, that makes our clouded spirit true andbright; that transforms us, despite all our shadows, into "light in the Lord".By putting on the alb we must remind ourselves: he suffered for me, too. And it is only because his love is greater than all my sins that I canrepresent him and witness to his lightNow that we are preparing for the celebration of Holy Mass, we must ask ourselves whether we are wearing these clothes of love. Let us askthe Lord to keep all hostility away from our hearts, to remove from us every feeling of self-sufficiency and truly to clothe ourselves with thevestment of love, so that we may be luminous persons and not belong to darkness. Vatican Basilica. Holy Thursday April 5, 2007. 5.16.gTo celebrate dresses of the loveThe king comes into the crowded room to see his guests. And here in this multitude he also finds a guest who was not wearing weddingclothes, who is then thrown outside into the darkness.Then Gregory asks himself: "But what kind of clothes ought he to have been wearing? All those who are gathered in the Church have receivedthe new garment of baptism and the faith; otherwise, they would not be in the Church. So what was it that was still lacking? What weddingclothes must there be in addition?"The Pope responds: "the clothes of love". And unfortunately, among his guests to whom he had given new clothes, the white clothes ofrebirth, the king found some who were not wearing the purple clothes of twofold love, for God and for neighbour."In what condition do wewant to come to the feast in Heaven, if we are not wearing wedding clothes - that is, love, which alone can make us beautiful?", the Pope asks.A person without love is dark within. External shadows, of which the Gospel speaks, are only the reflection of the internal blindness of theheart (cf. Hom. 38, 8-13) Vatican Basilica. Holy Thursday April 5, 2007. 5.16.h6.16 CALLED TOCalled to remain with the GentlemanWe have seen that to be ordained priests means to enter in a sacramental and existential way into Christs prayer for "his own". From this wepriests derive a particular vocation to pray in a strongly Christocentric sense: we are called, that is, to "remain" in Christ as the evangelist Johnlikes to repeat (cf. Jn 1: 35-39; 15: 4-10) and this abiding in Christ is achieved especially through prayer. Our ministry is totally tied to this"abiding" which is equivalent to prayer, and draws from this its efficacy. In this perspective, we must think of the different forms of prayer of apriest, first of all daily Holy Mass.The Eucharistic Celebration is the greatest and highest act of prayer, and constitutes the centre and the source from which even the otherforms receive "nourishment": the Liturgy of the Hours, Eucharistic adoration, Lectio divina, the Holy Rosary, meditation. All these expressionsof prayer, which have their centre in the Eucharist, fulfil the words of Jesus in the priests day and in all his life: "I am the good shepherd; Iknow my own and my own know me, as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep" (Jn 10: 14-15). Infact, this "knowing" and "being known" in Christ and, through him, in the Most Holy Trinity, is none other than the most true and deep realityof prayer. St. Peters Basilica. May 3, 2009 6.16.aCalled to serve the GentlemanThe cult that Christ rendered to the Father was the giving of himself to the end for humanity. Into this cult, this service, the priest must inserthimself. Thus, the word "serve" contains many dimensions. In the first place, part of it is certainly the correct celebration of the liturgy and ofthe sacraments in general, accomplished through interior participation. We must learn to increasingly understand the sacred liturgy in all itsessence, to develop a living familiarity with it, so that it becomes the soul of our daily life. It is then that we celebrate in the correct way; it isthen that the ars celebrandi, the art of celebrating, emerges by itself. In this art there must be nothing artificial. If the liturgy is the central dutyof the priest, this also means that prayer must be a primary reality, to be learned ever anew and ever more deeply at the school of Christ andof the Saints of all the ages. Since the Christian liturgy by its nature is also always a proclamation, we must be people who are familiar with the 8
  9. 9. Word of God, love it and live by it: only then can we explain it in an adequate way. "To serve the Lord" - priestly service precisely also means tolearn to know the Lord in his Word and to make it known to all those he entrusts to us. St Peter´s Basilica, Holy Thursday March 20, 2008. 6.16.bCalled to being servants of the happinessDear friends, this is also your mission: to bring the Gospel to everyone so that everyone may experience the joy of Christ and that there be joyin every city. What can be more beautiful than this? What can be greater, more exciting, than cooperating in spreading the Word of life in theworld, than communicating the living water of the Holy Spirit? To proclaim and to witness joy: this is the central core of your mission, deardeacons who will soon become priests. The Apostle Paul called Gospel ministers "servants of joy". He wrote in his Second Letter to theChristians of Corinth: "Domineering over your faith is not my purpose. I prefer to work with you toward your happiness. As regards faith, youare standing firm" (II Cor 1: 24). These are programmatic words for every priest. In order to be collaborators in the joy of others, in a worldthat is often sad and negative, the fire of the Gospel must burn within you and the joy of the Lord dwell in you. Only then will you be able to bemessengers and multipliers of this joy, bringing it to all, especially to those who are sorrowful and disheartened. St. Peters Basilica in the Vatican, April 27, 2008. 6.16.cCalled to give hopeOur hope, your hope is God, in Jesus and in the Spirit. It is a hope which from today becomes in you a "priestly hope", that of Jesus the GoodShepherd who dwells within you and gives shape to your desires in accordance with his divine Heart: a hope of life and forgiveness for thepeople who will be entrusted to your pastoral care; a hope of holiness and apostolic fruitfulness for yourselves and for all the Church; a hopeof openness to faith and to the encounter with God for those who support you in their quest for the truth; a hope of peace and comfort forthe suffering and for those wounded by life. St. Peters Basilica in the Vatican, April 27, 2008. 6.16.dI send you: Always in movement "As the Father has sent me, so I send you" (Jn 20: 21). Christ says this in a very personal way to each one of you.With priestly ordination you are inserted into the Apostolic mission. The Holy Spirit is wind, but it is not amorphous; it is an orderly Spirit. Itbecomes manifest precisely when it orders the mission, in the Sacrament of the Priesthood, in which the ministry of the Apostles is continued.Through this ministry, you are inserted in the multitude of those who, beginning with Pentecost, have received the apostolic mission. You areinserted into the communion of priests, into communion with the Bishop and with the Successor of St Peter, who here in Rome is also yourBishop. All of us are inserted in the network of obedience to the Word of Christ, to the word of the One who gives us true freedom because heleads us in the free spaces and open horizons of the truth.It is precisely in this common bond with the Lord that we can and must live the dynamism of the Spirit. As the Lord came from the Father andhas given us light, life and love, so too the mission must continually set us in motion, make us restless, to bring the joy of Christ to those whosuffer, those who are in doubt, as well as to the reluctant. 
Sunday, May 15, 2005 . 6.16.eThe power to absolveThe essential signs of priestly ordination are basically all a manifestation of those words: the laying on of hands; the consignment of the book -of his words that he entrusts to us; the consignment of the chalice, with which he transmits to us his most profound and personal mystery.The power to absolve is part of all this. It also makes us share in his awareness of the misery of sin and of all the darkness in the world, andplaces in our hands the key to reopen the door to the Fathers house. St. Peter´s Basilica. Holy Thursday April 13, 2006. 6.16.f7.16 Some characteristicsTo guardThe priest must be on the watch. He must be on his guard in the face of the imminent powers of evil. He must keep the world awake for God.He must be the one who remains standing: upright before the trends of time. Upright in truth. Upright in the commitment for good. Beingbefore the Lord must always also include, at its depths, responsibility for humanity to the Lord, who in his turn takes on the burden of all of usto the Father. And it must be a taking on of him, of Christ, of his word, his truth, his love. The priest must be upright, fearless and prepared tosustain even offences for the Lord, as referred to in the Acts of the Apostles: they were "rejoicing that they were counted worthy to sufferdishonour for the name" (5: 41) of Jesus. St. Peter´s Basilica. Holy Thursday March 20, 2008. 7.16.aEUCHARISTIC LOVEAt this most solemn and important moment of your life, dear Ordinandi, I once again address you with affection. On this day Jesus repeats toyou: "I no longer call you servants, but friends". Welcome and nurture this divine friendship with "Eucharistic love"! 9
  10. 10. May Mary, the heavenly Mother of priests, accompany you. May she who beneath the Cross united herself with the Sacrifice of her Son andafter the Resurrection accepted together with the other disciples the gift of the Spirit, help you and each one of us, dear brothers in thepriesthood, to allow ourselves to be inwardly transformed by Gods grace.Only in this way is it possible to be faithful images of the Good Shepherd; only in this way can we carry out joyfully the mission of knowing,guiding and loving the flock which Jesus acquired at the price of his blood. Amen. Vatican Basilica. April 29, 2007 7.16.bThe center of the dayDear Ordinandi, in this way the message of Pentecost is now aimed directly at you. The Pentecostal scene of the Gospel of John speaks to youand of you. To each one of you, in a very personal way, the Lord says: Peace to [all of] you - peace to you! When the Lord says this, he does notgive something, but he gives himself. Indeed, he himself is peace (cf. Eph 2: 14).In this greeting of the Lord, we can also foresee a reference to the great mystery of faith, to the Holy Eucharist, in which he continually giveshimself to us, and, in this way, true peace. Sunday, May 15, 2005 . 7.16.cSacrament of the EucharistThis greeting is placed at the centre of your priestly mission: the Lord entrusts to you the mystery of this Sacrament. In his Name you can say:"This is my Body.... This is my Blood". Allow yourselves to be drawn ever anew by the Holy Eucharist, by communion of life with Christ.Consider the centre of each day the possibility to celebrate the Eucharist worthily. Lead people ever anew to this mystery. Help them, startingfrom this, to bring the peace of Christ into the world. Sunday, May 15, 2005 7.16.dTo be An EucharistSt Leo the Great recalls that "our participation in the Body and Blood of Christ aspires to nothing other than to become what we receive"(Sermo 12, De Passione 3, 7, PL 54). If this is true for every Christian it is especially true for us priestsTo become the Eucharist! May precisely this be our constant desire and commitment, so that the offering of the Body and Blood of the Lordwhich we make on the altar may be accompanied by the sacrifice of our existence. Every day, we draw from the Body and Blood of the Lordthat free, pure love which makes us worthy ministers of Christ and witnesses to his joy. This is what the faithful expect of the priest: that is, theexample of an authentic devotion to the Eucharist; they like to see him spend long periods of silence and adoration before Jesus as was thepractice of the Holy Curé dArs, whom we shall remember in a special way during the upcoming Year for Priests. Basilica of St. John Lateran. Thursday June 11, 2009. 7.16.eOur obedienceAdams sin consisted precisely in the fact that he wanted to accomplish his own will and not Gods. Humanitys temptation is always to want tobe totally autonomous, to follow its own will alone and to maintain that only in this way will we be free; that only thanks to a similarlyunlimited freedom would man be completely man. But this is precisely how we pit ourselves against the truth. Because the truth is that wemust share our freedom with others and we can be free only in communion with them. This shared freedom can be true freedom only if weenter into what constitutes the very measure of freedom, if we enter into Gods will. This fundamental obedience that is part of the humanbeing - a person cannot be merely for and by himself - becomes still more concrete in the priest: we do not preach ourselves, but him and hisWord, which we could not have invented ourselves. We proclaim the Word of Christ in the correct way only in communion with his Body. Ourobedience is a believing with the Church, a thinking and speaking with the Church, serving through her. What Jesus predicted to Peter alsoalways applies: "You will be taken where you do not want to go". This letting oneself be guided where one does not want to be led is anessential dimension of our service, and it is exactly what makes us free. In this being guided, which can be contrary to our ideas and plans, weexperience something new - the wealth of Gods love. St. Peters Basilica. Holy Thursday March 20, 2008. 7.16.fMaryIn every circumstance of your life, look to her, the star of your priesthood. As she said to the servants at the wedding in Cana, Mary repeats toyou too: "Do whatever he tells you" (Jn 2: 5). At the school of the Virgin, always be men of prayer and service, to become, in the faithfulpractice of your ministry, holy priests after Gods heart. St. Peters Basilica. May 3, 2009 7.16.g8.16Some dangersWe must not take this faith for granted! Today we run the risk of secularization creeping into the Church too. It can be translated into formaland empty Eucharistic worship, into celebrations lacking that heartfelt participation that is expressed in veneration and in respect for theliturgy. Basilica of St. John Lateran. Thursday 11 June 2009. 8.16.a 10
  11. 11. The temptation to reduce prayer to superficial, hasty moments, letting ourselves be overpowered by earthly activities and concerns, is alwaysstrong. When, in a little while, we recite the Our Father, the prayer par excellence, we will say: "Give us this day our daily bread", thinking ofcourse of the bread of each day for us and for all peoples. But this request contains something deeper. The Greek wordepioúsios, that wetranslate as "daily", could also allude to the "super-stantial" bread, the bread "of the world to come". Some Fathers of the Church saw this as areference to the Eucharist, the bread of eternal life, the new world, that is already given to us in Holy Mass, so that from this moment thefuture world may begin within us. With the Eucharist, therefore, Heaven comes down to earth, the future of God enters the present and it is asthough time were embraced by divine eternity. Basilica of St. John Lateran. Thursday 11 June 2009. 8.16.b9.16 Years of the seminarDear seminarians, these years of formation constitute an important time in which to prepare yourselves for the exalting mission to which theLord calls you. Allow me to underline two aspects that mark your current experience. First of all, your seminary years involve a certaindetachment from ordinary life, a certain "wilderness", so that the Lord can speak to your heart (cf. Hos 2: 14). Indeed, his voice is not loud butrather subdued, it is "a still small voice" (I Kgs 19: 12). Pontifical Roman Major Seminar. Friday February 1, 2008 9.16.aFor this reason the Seminary offers space and times for daily prayer; it takes great care of the liturgy, meditation on the Word of God andEucharistic adoration. At the same time, it demands that you devote long hours to study: in praying and studying you can build withinyourselves the man of God whom you must be and whom people expect a priest to be. Pontifical Roman Major Seminar. Friday February 1, 2008 9.16.bThen there is a second aspect of your life: during your seminary years, you live together; your formation for the priesthood also involves thiscommunity aspect which is of great importance. In following Jesus, the Apostles were formed together. Your communion is not limited to thepresent time but also concerns the future: the pastoral action that awaits you must see you joining forces, as though in one body, inone ordo, that of priests who, together with the Bishop, care for the Christian community. May you love this "family life" which is ananticipation for you of that "sacramental brotherhood" (Presbyterorum Ordinis, n. 8) which must characterize every diocesan priest. Pontifical Roman Major Seminar. Friday February 1, 2008 9.16.cAll this reminds you that God calls you to be holy, that holiness is the secret of the true success of your priestly ministry. From this momentholiness must be the goal of your every choice and decision. Entrust this desire and this daily commitment to Mary, Mother of Trust! This mostpacifying title corresponds to the invitation, repeated in the Gospel and addressed to the Virgin by the Angel and then so many other times byJesus to his disciples: "Do not be afraid" (cf. Lk 1: 30). "Do not be afraid, for I am with you", says the Lord. In the icon of Our Lady of Trust, inwhich the Child points to the Mother, it seems that Jesus is adding, "Look at your Mother and do not fear". Pontifical Roman Major Seminar. Friday February 1, 2008 9.16.dDear seminarians, follow the Seminary curriculum with your minds open to truth, transparency and dialogue with those who guide you. Thiswill enable you to respond in a very simple and humble way to the One who calls you, freeing yourselves from the risk of creating a strictlypersonal project. Dear parents and friends, accompany the seminarians with prayer and with your constant material and spiritual support. Ialso assure you all of my remembrance in prayer, as I joyfully impart the Apostolic Blessing to you. Pontifical Roman Major Seminar. Friday February 1, 2008 9.16.e10.16 DEDICATE THEM IN THE TRUTHOnly now can we fully understand the prayer which the Lord offered the Father for his disciples – for us. “Sanctify them in the truth”: this isthe inclusion of the Apostles in the priesthood of Jesus Christ, the institution of his new priesthood for the community of the faithful of alltimes. “Sanctify them in truth”: this is the true prayer of consecration for the Apostles. The Lord prays that God himself draw them towardshim, into his holiness. He prays that God take them away from themselves to make them his own property, so that, starting from him, they cancarry out the priestly ministry for the world. St. Peters Basilica. Holy Thursday April 9, 2009. 10.16.a“Sanctify them in the truth”. Jesus adds: “Your word is truth”. The disciples are thus drawn deep within God by being immersed in the word ofGod. The word of God is, so to speak, the bath which purifies them, the creative power which transforms them into God’s own being. So then,how do things stand in our own lives? Are we truly pervaded by the word of God? Is that word truly the nourishment we live by, even morethan bread and the things of this world? Do we really know that word? Do we love it? Are we deeply engaged with this word to the point thatit really leaves a mark on our lives and shapes our thinking? Or is it rather the case that our thinking is constantly being shaped by all the thingsthat others say and do? Aren’t prevailing opinions the criterion by which we all too often measure ourselves? Do we not perhaps remain, whenall is said and done, mired in the superficiality in which people today are generally caught up? Do we allow ourselves truly to be deeply 11
  12. 12. purified by the word of God? Nietzsche scoffed at humility and obedience as the virtues of slaves, a source of repression. He replaced themwith pride and man’s absolute freedom. Of course there exist caricatures of a misguided humility and a mistaken submissiveness, which we donot want to imitate. But there also exists a destructive pride and a presumption which tear every community apart and result in violence. Canwe learn from Christ the correct humility which corresponds to the truth of our being, and the obedience which submits to truth, to the will ofGod? “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth”: this word of inclusion in the priesthood lights up our lives and calls us to become everanew disciples of that truth which is revealed in the word of God. St. Peters Basilica. Holy Thursday April 9, 2009. 10.16.bNietzsche scoffed at humility and obedience as the virtues of slaves, a source of repression. He replaced them with pride and man’s absolutefreedom. Of course there exist caricatures of a misguided humility and a mistaken submissiveness, which we do not want to imitate. But therealso exists a destructive pride and a presumption which tear every community apart and result in violence. Can we learn from Christ thecorrect humility which corresponds to the truth of our being, and the obedience which submits to truth, to the will of God? “Sanctify them inthe truth; your word is truth”: this word of inclusion in the priesthood lights up our lives and calls us to become ever anew disciples of thattruth which is revealed in the word of God. St. Peters Basilica. Holy Thursday April 9, 2009. 10.16.cTo be immersed in God’s truth and thus in his holiness – for us this also means to acknowledge that the truth makes demands, to stand up, inmatters great and small, to the lie which in so many different ways is present in the world; accepting the struggles associated with the truth,because its inmost joy is present within us. Nor, when we talk about being sanctified in the truth, should we forget that in Jesus Christ truthand love are one. Being immersed in him means being immersed in his goodness, in true love. True love does not come cheap, it can alsoprove quite costly. It resists evil in order to bring men true good. If we become one with Christ, we learn to recognize him precisely in thesuffering, in the poor, in the little ones of this world; then we become people who serve, who recognize our brothers and sisters in him, and inthem, we encounter him. St. Peters Basilica. Holy Thursday April 9, 2009. 10.16.d 12

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