VATICAN CITY, JAN. 20, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI today told those preparing for the priesthood that their path to holiness also includes a commitment to their studies.
The Pope said this today in an address to the community from one of the Diocese of Rome seminaries, the Almo Collegio Capranica, which he received in audience for the feast of St. Agnes, patron of the college.
He said that priestly formation requires integrity and asceticism, as well as "heroic constancy and fidelity."
"Deep down there should be a solid spiritual life animated by an intense relationship with God on the personal and community level, with particular care shown in liturgical celebrations and the frequenting of the sacraments," the Holy Father encouraged. "The priestly life requires a growing desire for holiness, a clear sensus Ecclesiae and an openness to a fraternity without exclusions or partiality."
And he said that the priest's path to holiness also includes a decision to develop his intelligence and cultural knowledge, the "fruit of passionate and constant study."
"Faith has its own intellectual and rational dimension that is essential," the Pontiff explained. "For a seminarian and a young priest still struggling with academic study, it means assimilating the synthesis between faith and reason that is peculiar to Christianity. The Word of God became flesh, and the priest, the true priest of the Incarnate Word, must become more transparent, luminous and profound, to the eternal Word which is given to us. He who is mature also in this, his global cultural training, can be a more effective educator and promoter of that worship 'in spirit and truth' of which Jesus speaks to the Samaritan woman."
Benedict XVI also encouraged the seminarians to steep themselves in the experience of the Church's universality.
"Always have a deep sense of history and tradition of the Church," he invited them. "Being in Rome is a gift which should make you especially sensitive to the depth of the Catholic tradition. You touch it with your hands already in the history of the building that houses you. In addition, you live these years of training in a special closeness with the Successor of Peter, which enables you to perceive with particular clarity the size of the universal Church and the desire that the Gospel may reach all peoples. Here you have the opportunity to broaden your horizons with experiences of internationality; here, above all, you breathe Catholicism.
"Take advantage of what is offered, for future service to the Diocese of Rome, or your dioceses of origin! By friendship, which springs from living together, learn about the different situations of the nations and Churches around the world and learn to form in yourselves a Catholic view. Prepare yourselves to be close to every person you meet, not allowing any culture to be a barrier to the Word of life, which you proclaim also with your life."
The Pope concluded by reminding the seminarians that "the Church expects much from the young priests in the work of evangelization and new evangelization."
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