VATICAN CITY, JUNE 13, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI says all the good of the Year for Priests cannot be measured, but that people will certainly see its fruits.
Today before praying the midday Angelus, the Pope reflected on the Year for Priests that ended Friday.
He said the closing celebrations in Rome with some 15,000 priests from around the world were "unforgettable days."
"So, today," the Holy Father said, "I would like to give thanks to God for all the good things that have come to the universal Church this year. No one could ever measure them but certainly they see them and still more they will see their fruits."
The Pontiff reflected on how the year concluded with Friday's solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, traditionally the "day of priestly sanctification."
"This time it was so in a very special way," he said. "In fact, dear friends, the priest is a gift from the Heart of Christ: a gift for the Church and for the world. From the Heart of the Son of God, overflowing with charity, there stream all the goods of the Church and in a special way it is the origin of the vocations of those men who, conquered by the Lord Jesus, leave everything to dedicate themselves entirely to the service of the people, following the example of the Good Shepherd.
"The priest is formed by Christ’s charity itself, that love that moved him to give his life for his friends and also to pardon his enemies. Because of this priests are the first builders of the civilization of love."
Benedict XVI recalled the model of the Year for Priests, proclaimed Friday as the patron of all priests: St. John Vianney.
"There is no need to add words to what has been said of him in recent months," the Pope said. "But his intercession must accompany us from now on. May his prayer, his 'Act of Love,' that we have recited so many times during the Year for Priests, continue to nourish your colloquy with God."
The Bishop of Rome went on to propose another priest-model: Father Jerzy Popieluszko, who was beatified June 6 in his native Poland.
"He exercised his generous and courageous ministry alongside those who worked for freedom, for the defense of life and its dignity," the Pontiff said of Father Popieluszko. "His work in the service of goodness and truth was a sign of contradiction for the regime that governed Poland at that time. The love of the Heart of Christ led him to give his life, and his witness was the seed of a new springtime in the Church and society."
The Holy Father went on to propose that a look at history shows "that so many pages of authentic spiritual and social renewal have been written by the contribution of Catholic priests, animated only by the passion for the Gospel and for man, for his true religious and civil liberty."
"How many initiatives of integral human promotion have begun in the intuition of a priestly heart!" he exclaimed.
The Pope concluded entrusting the priests of the world to Mary's Immaculate Heart, "so that by the power of the Gospel they may continue to build in every place the civilization of love."
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Full text: www.zenit.org/article-29586?l=english