Pope Tells What's Most Important on Path to Priesthood

Emphasizes Importance of Studying the Faith as an Organic Whole

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 27, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI says the most important thing on the journey toward the priesthood and in priestly life is a personal relationship with God in Christ.

The Pope affirmed this Thursday when he addressed three of Italy’s regional seminaries.

After noting the value of seminaries that draw from several dioceses as a preparation for collaboration in the universal Church, the Holy Father went on to speak about the philosophical-theological formation of future priests.

«As I wrote in my letter to seminarians at the close of the Year for Priests, it is not only a question of learning obviously useful things but of knowing and understanding the structure of the faith in its totality — which is not a summary of theses but an organism, an organic vision — so that it becomes an answer to the questions of men, who change in externals from generation to generation but who remain fundamentally the same,» he said.

The Pontiff also emphasized that the study of theology must be connected with the life of prayer.

«It is important,» he said, «that the seminarian well understands that the object that he applies himself to is in fact a ‘Subject’ who calls to him, that Lord who spoke to him, inviting him to spend his life in service to God and to his brothers.»

Promoting sanctity

Benedict XVI reflected on the integration of ministry and spiritual life, observing how important the human formation of the priest is.

«It is in fact in our humanity that we present ourselves before God to be authentic men of God in the eyes of our brothers. […] Thus, the most important thing in the journey toward the priesthood and during the whole priestly life is a personal relationship with God in Jesus Christ,» he affirmed.

The Pope cited his predecessor, Blessed John XXII, affirming: «In view of the mission with which you will be entrusted for the glory of God and the salvation of souls, this is the purpose of your education: forming the mind, sanctifying the will. The world awaits saints: this above all. Before cultured, eloquent, up-to-date priests, there is a need of holy priests who sanctify (sacerdoti santi e santificatori).» 

«These words still have resonance today,» Benedict said, «because in the whole Church, as well as in the regions from which you come, there is much more than ever the need for workers of the Gospel, credible witnesses and those who promote sanctity with their own lives.»

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Full text: www.zenit.org/article-34201?l=english

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