Pope Offers Priests a Model for Their Vocation

Notes Timely Teaching of St. Joseph Cafasso for All Faithful

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 30, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Turning his attention to a lesser-known saint, Benedict XVI today offered another model to priests seeking holiness.

The Pope dedicated the address at today’s general audience to a 19th-century Italian saint: Father Joseph Cafasso.

The saint is perhaps most remembered for his association with St. John Bosco: Joseph acted as John’s spiritual director for a quarter of a century.

Though the Holy Father used St. Joseph’s example to emphasize the importance of spiritual direction, he also made this point: «Cafasso never tried to form a disciple in Don Bosco ‘in his image and likeness’ and Don Bosco did not copy Cafasso. He imitated him, certainly, in human and priestly virtues — describing him as a ‘model of priestly life’ — but according to his own attitudes and his own peculiar vocation.»

The Holy Father indicated in this a «sign of the wisdom of the spiritual teacher and of the intelligence of the disciple.»

However, Benedict XVI recommended spiritual directors for everyone, however, not just priests.

Referring to the relationship between Sts. Cafasso and Bosco, he said, «Dear friends, this is a beautiful teaching for all those who are involved in the formation and education of young generations and also a strong reminder of the importance of having a spiritual guide in one’s life, who helps us to know what God wants from us.»

A formator

The Pontiff above all emphasized St. Joseph Cafasso’s role as a formator, teacher and guide for priests who would model him in holiness.

Referring to his work with those just starting the path of the priesthood, the Pope noted, «The type of priest that Cafasso found in the academy and that he himself contributed to reinforce — especially as rector — was that of the true pastor with a rich interior life and a profound zeal in pastoral ministry: faithful to prayer, committed to preaching and catechesis, dedicated to the celebration of the Eucharist and to the ministry of confession, according to the model embodied by St. Charles Borromeo, by St. Francis de Sales and promoted by the Council of Trent.»

The saint thus started a chain of holiness, the Holy Father noted, sculpting this image in young priests so that «in turn, they would become formators of other priests, religious and laymen.»

He added: «His secret was simple: to be a man of God; to do, in little daily actions, ‘that which can turn to the greater glory of God and to the advantage of souls.’ He loved the Lord totally, he was animated by a well-rooted faith, sustained by profound and prolonged prayer, he lived a sincere charity toward all. He knew moral theology, but he likewise knew the situations and the hearts of people and looked after their best interests, as the Good Shepherd.»

The Bishop of Rome concluded his reflection expressing his hope that St. Joseph Cafasso might be a «call to all to intensify the way toward the perfection of the Christian life, holiness; in particular, may he remind priests of the importance of dedicating time to the sacrament of reconciliation and to spiritual direction, and remind all of the attention we must give to the neediest.»

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Full text: www.zenit.org/article-29759?l=english

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