VATICAN CITY, FEB. 20, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is encouraging priests to seize the opportunities to grow in “spiritual and theological maturity” so that they can be “stout-hearted” enough for whatever the future holds.
The Pope said this on Saturday when he received in audience a group of students and faculty from the Pontifical Filipino College. Blessed Pope John XXIII founded the college 50 years ago and the papal audience was commemorating the anniversary.
The German Pontiff encouraged the students to “grow in faith” and to “strive for excellence in your studies.” He also told them to “grasp every opportunity afforded you to attain spiritual and theological maturity, so that you will be equipped, trained, and stout-hearted for whatever awaits you in the future.”
Speaking about the martyrs of Rome, the Pope assured: “I am confident that each of you will be inspired by their union with the mystery of Christ and embrace the Lord’s call to holiness which demands from you as priests nothing less than the complete gift of your lives and labors to God.”
The Holy Father also gave practical counsel regarding the students’ use of time. He suggested a “healthy balance between local pastoral concerns and the academic requirements of your stay here, to the benefit of all.”
The Pontiff’s final reflection regarded the special opportunity afforded the priests by their studies in Rome.
“[D]o not forget the affection of the Pope for you and for your homeland,” he said. And he urged them to return to the Philippines with an “unshakeable affection of your own for the Successor of Peter.”
The Holy Father encouraged the “desire to strengthen and maintain the communion which binds the Church in charity around [the Pope].”
“In this way,” he said, “having completed your studies, you will surely be a leaven of the Gospel in the life of your beloved nation.”
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