VATICAN CITY, MARCH 3, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is urging priests to know the hearts of their parishioners, and to help them discover the Word of God and put it into practice in their daily situations.
The Pope affirmed this in a meeting last Thursday with parish priests of the Diocese of Rome, a Lenten tradition, in which he answered their questions and concerns.
He expressed his desire to share the experiences, sufferings, successes and joys of the priests in his diocese. “It is important for me to see my diocese,” he told them, “the problems and all the realities you live in this diocese.”
The Pontiff spoke about the importance of bringing priestly academic knowledge to a personal level in order to reach other people. “In this sense,” he said, “I would like to say that it is important, on one hand, to make the great word of the faith concrete with our personal experience of faith, in our meeting with our parishioners, but also to not lose its simplicity.”
He added: “We cannot simply work with great formulas, [although] truths, without putting them in the context of today’s world. Through study and what the masters of theology and our personal experience with God tell us, we must translate these great words, so that they enter into the proclamation of God to the man of today.”
The Holy Father underlined the “simplicity of the Word of God,” remembering the Apostles who “proclaimed Christ with simplicity, with the force of simplicity of what is true.”
He continued: “And this also seems important to me: Let us not lose the simplicity of the truth. God exists and he is not a distant, hypothetical being, rather, he is close, he has spoken to us, he has spoken to me. And so we say simply what it is and how naturally it should be explained and developed.”
He explained that the priests must give “the simple proclamation of the God who has acted, and who has also acted with me.”
Benedict XVI asserted, “Who knows the men of today better than the parish priest?”
He pointed out: “The sacristy is not in the world, but in the parish. And there, to the pastor, men often come normally, without a mask, without other pretexts, but in situations of suffering, infirmity, death, family issues.
“They come to the confessional unmasked, with their own being. It seems to me that no other profession gives this possibility of knowing man as he is in his humanity, and not in the role he has in society […].
“In this sense, I would say that it is absolutely important to know man, the man of today, in ourselves and in others, but always in attentive listening to the Lord and accepting in myself the seed of the Word, because in me it is transformed into wheat and is able to be communicated to others.”
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On ZENIT’s Web page:
Full text of question and answer: http://www.zenit.org/article-25258?l=english