The Pope made that observation today when he met with students of Vienna's major seminary. They came to the Vatican accompanied by Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, archbishop of the Austrian capital.
Speaking in German, the Holy Father gave his visitors advice based on his own experience as priest and Superior of priests.
"Study and prayer, regular reception of the sacrament of penance, and fervent participation in the eucharistic sacrifice are indispensable means on the path to holiness," the Pope said.
The seminary should be "in a certain sense, [a] continuation in the Church of the apostolic community, gathered around Jesus," he said. "Your friendship in Christ, the Lord of your precious vocation, and your readiness to follow him must be constantly deepened."
John Paul II urged the seminarians "to give each day a personal response to the decisive question posed by Christ: 'Do you love me?'"