Priests Urged to Open Their Hearts Wide

Clergy Dicastery Prepares to Celebrate the Priesthood

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 5, 2009 ( As the Year for Priests is set to begin, the Congregation for Clergy is encouraging priests to enter the celebration with a «wide open heart.»

Archbishop Mauro Piacenza, secretary of the Congregation for Clergy, wrote this in a letter he sent to the priests of the world ahead of the June 19 inauguration.

Benedict XVI will open the year with a celebration of vespers on the solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The theme for the priestly year is «Faithfulness of Christ, Faithfulness of Priests.»

The year coincides with the 150th anniversary of the death of St. Jean Marie Vianney, the Curé of Ars, and the inauguration event will be held in the presence of the relic of the Curé of Ars, to be brought to Rome by Bishop Guy Bagnard of Belley-Ars.

The Year for Priests will conclude with an International Convention in Rome, to be held June 9-11, 2010.

The archbishop said the Year for Priests promises to be «an intense moment of faith» for the priests of the world, together with Benedict XVI.

He said priests are called every day — and much more so during this year — «to be ever more authentically that which we already are, [to] conversion to our ecclesial identity of which our ministry is a necessary consequence, so that a renewed and joyous awareness of our ‘being’ will determine our ‘acting,’ or rather will create the space allowing Christ the Good Shepherd to live in us and to act through us.»

«Our spirituality must be nothing other than the spirituality of Christ himself,» the prelate added, «the one and only supreme High Priest of the New Testament.»

Archbishop Piacenza noted that the main work of the Year for Priests will be to «concentrate on the identity of Christ the Son of God […] and on his mission to reveal the Father and his wondrous plan of salvation. This mission of Christ carries with it the building up of the Church: Behold the Good Shepherd who gives his life for the Church.»

The archbishop urged priests to take up the challenge so that «Christ’s manner of life may be the manner of life made ever more manifest in each one of us.»  

He continued: «We must exist for others, we must undertake to live with the People in a union of holy and divine love — which clearly presupposes the richness of holy celibacy — which obliges us to live in authentic solidarity with those who suffer and who live in a great many types of poverty.

«We must be laborers for the building up of the one Church of Christ, for which we must live purposefully and faithfully the communion of love with the Pope, with the bishops, with our brother priests and with the faithful. We must live this communion with the unbroken pilgrimage of the Church within the very sinews of the Mystical Body.»

«[R]un spiritually in this year with a ‘wide open heart,'» the archbishop urged, «so as to inwardly conform to our vocation the better to say, in truth ‘it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me.’”

Archbishop Piacenza invited all Church faithful to celebrate the opening of the Year for Priests, which will take place June 19 at St. Peter’s Basilica.

The basilica will open at 4 p.m., and the reliquary of St. Jean Marie Vianney will arrive at 5:30 p.m. Vespers will follow.
He asked those unable to attend to join themselves spiritually to the occasion.

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