VATICAN CITY, NOV. 7, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is recommending three conditions for a priest to grow in conformity with Christ, and the first is being fascinated by Him -- His words, gestures and very person.
The Pope offered his recommendations at the celebration of vespers on Friday to mark the opening of the academic year at the pontifical universities.
Mindful of the 70th anniversary of Pius XII's institution of the Pontifical Work for Priestly Vocations, the Holy Father focused his reflection on the priesthood, though he clarified that his words are applicable to others, since it is "important for all, in fact, always to learn more to 'remain' with the Lord."
"There are some conditions for there to be a growing consonance between Christ and the life of the priest," the Pope stated: "the aspiration to work with Jesus to spread the Kingdom of God, the gratuity of the pastoral charge and the attitude of service."
The Bishop of Rome first emphasized that in the priesthood, "there is the encounter with Christ and being fascinated, struck by his words, by his gestures, by his very person. It is distinguishing his voice from many voices. (...) It is like feeling the radiance of the Good and Love that emanate from him, feeling enveloped and involved to the point of desiring to remain with him like the disciples of Emmaus."
The minister of the Gospel is one who is drawn in by Christ, the Holy Father said, "who knows how to 'remain' with him, who enters into harmony, in intimate friendship, with him, that all be done 'as God wishes.'"
Next, Benedict XVI spoke of the priestly calling to be "administrators of the Mysteries of God 'not for personal gain but with a generous soul.'"
"The Lord's call to ministry is not the fruit of special merits but a gift to be received and to which there corresponds a dedication of oneself not to one's own project but God's, in a generous and disinterested way, that he might dispose of us according to his will even if this does not concur with our desires of self-realization," he stressed. "(...) We must never forget -- as priests -- the one legitimate ascent for the ministry of shepherd is not that of success but that of the cross."
Finally, the Holy Father exhorted priests to live as servants, both in the sense of being role models for the faithful and as servants of the sacraments.
"It is one life, then, profoundly marked by this service: from the attentive care of the flock, from the faithful celebration of the liturgy, and from the prompt solicitude for all of the brothers, especially the most poor and needy," he said. "In living this 'pastoral charity' on the model of Christ and with Christ, in whatever post the Lord calls one to, every priest can fully realize himself and his vocation."
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