Benedict XVI: Thank God for Priests

Reflects on Their Mission of Sanctifying

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 5, 2010 ( Benedict XVI today encouraged the faithful to be close to their priests, remembering that through them, God chooses to sanctify the world.

The Pope reflected on the priestly mission of sanctifying today in the general audience. He thus continued with the second element of the three-fold mission of the priest, in this last full month of the Year for Priests.

The Holy Father first reflected on what sanctity is, saying it is the «specific quality of God’s being, that is, absolute truth, goodness, love, beauty — pure light.»

«Hence,» he said, «to sanctify a person means to put him in contact with God, with his being light, truth, pure love.»

Now, this contact with God, the Pope explained, is created by God himself, and it «transforms us little by little into true images of God.»

«No man on his own, by his own strength, can put another in contact with God. An essential part of the grace of priesthood is the gift, the task to create this contact,» he reflected. «This is done in the proclamation of the Word of God, in which He comes to meet us. It is done in a particularly profound way in the sacraments.»

Christ’s work

Benedict XVI affirmed that it is «Christ himself who makes us saints, namely, who attracts us to the sphere of God.»

«But,» he said, «as an act of his infinite mercy he calls some to ‘be’ with him and to be converted, through the sacrament of Holy Orders, despite human poverty, into participants in his own priesthood, ministers of this sanctification, dispensers of his mysteries, ‘bridges’ of the encounter with him, of his mediation between God and men and between men and God.»

«Who, therefore, saves the world and man? The only answer we can give is: Jesus of Nazareth, Lord and Christ, crucified and resurrected,» the Pope reiterated. «And where is the mystery realized of the death and resurrection of Christ, which brings salvation? In the action of Christ through the Church, in particular in the sacrament of reconciliation, in which from the death of sin one returns to the new life, and in every other sacramental act of sanctification.»

Jesus with us

The Holy Father gave some particular words of encouragement to priests. He urged them: «live the liturgy and worship with joy and love: It is action that the Risen One carries out through the power of the Holy Spirit in us, with us and for us. […]

«And I would also like to invite each priest to celebrate and live the Eucharist with intensity, which is at the heart of the task of sanctifying; it is Jesus who wants to be with us, to live in us, to give himself to us, to show us the infinite mercy and tenderness of God.»

But the Bishop of Rome also had encouragement for the faithful: «Dear friends, be conscious of the great gift that priests are for the Church and for the world; through their ministry, the Lord continues saving men, making himself present, sanctifying. Know how to thank God, and above all be close to your priests with your prayer and support, especially in difficulties, so that they will be increasingly shepherds according to the heart of God.»

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