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Pope: Priestly Formation Has 4 Columns, Which If Not Present and Interacting, 'Limps,' Becomes 'Paralyzed'

Full Text of Pope’s Address to Community of Pontifical Spanish College of San José, Rome

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Pope Francis has reminded a community of priests that formation has four columns, which must be present and interacting, otherwise it ‘limps’ and becomes ‘paralyzed.’
Francis gave this warning to the community of Pontifical Spanish College of San José, Rome on the occasion of the 125th anniversary of it foundation. The Holy Father received them in the Vatican on Saturday at around noon.
Below is a Zenit translation of Pope Francis:
* * *
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I want to have my greeting reach the whole community of the Saint Joseph Pontifical Spanish College and to thank Lord Cardinal Ricardo Blazquez Perez for his kind words that, as Co-Patron of the College, he addressed to me on behalf of all in this commemoration. I thank God for the beautiful work that Blessed Manuel Domingo y Sol instituted, Founder of the Brotherhood of Diocesan Worker Priests of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and for their work over all these years.
This Institution was born with the vocation to be a reference for the formation of the clergy. To be formed implies being able to approach the Lord with humility and to ask Him: What is your Will? What do you want from me? We know the answer, but perhaps it will do us good to recall it, and to do so I suggest the three words of the Shema with which Jesus answered the Levite: “you shall love the Lord with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30).
To love with all one’s heart, means to do so without reservations, without duplicity, without spurious interests, without seeking oneself in personal or career success. Pastoral charity implies going out to encounter the other, understanding him, accepting him and forgiving him from one’s heart. That is pastoral charity. But it is not possible to grow in that charity alone. That is why the Lord called us to be a community, so that that charity congregates all the priests with a special bond in the ministry and in fraternity. The Holy Spirit is necessary to do so, but also the personal spiritual battle (cf. Ratio Fundamentalis Institutionis Sacerdotalis, 87). This is not out of fashion; it continues to be as timely as in the early times of the Church. It is a permanent challenge to overcome individualism, to live diversity as a gift, seeking the presbytery’s unity, which is sign of God’s presence in the life of the community. A presbytery that does not maintain unity, in fact, leaves God out of its testimony. It is not a testimony of God’s presence. He is sent outside. So, gathered in the Lord’s name, especially when they celebrate the Eucharist, they manifest also sacramentally, that He is the Love of their heart.
Second: to love with all one’s soul, is to be ready to offer one’s life. This attitude must persist in time, and embrace our whole being. This is how the Founder of the College proposed it: “[Lord] I offer to You and put at your disposition my body, my soul, my memory, understanding, will, my health and even my life” (Escritos III, vol. 6, doc. 111, p. 1). Therefore, a priest’s formation cannot be only academic, but it must be an integral process, that embraces all the facets of life. The formation must help them to grow and, at the same time, to get close to God and to brothers. Please, do not be satisfied with obtaining a title, but be full time disciples to “proclaim the evangelical message in a credible and comprehensible way for the man of today” (Ratio, 116). At this point, it is important to grow in the habit of discernment, which enables you to assess each instant and motion, including what seems opposite and contradictory, and to screen what comes from the Spirit – a grace that we must ask for on our knees. Only from this base, through the multiple tasks in the exercise of the ministry, will you be able to form others in that discernment that leads to Resurrection and to Life, and enables you to give a conscious and generous answer to God and to brothers (cf. Meeting with Priests and with Consecrated Persons – Milan, March 25, 2017). I was saying that the formation of a priest cannot be only academic and to be satisfied with this alone. From there stem all the ideologies that poison the Church, of one sign or of another, of clerical academicism. Formation must have four columns : academic formation, spiritual formation, communal formation and apostolic formation, and the four must interact. If one of them is lacking, formation begins to limp and the priest ends up being a paralytic. So please – the four together and inter-acting.
Finally, Jesus’ third answer, love with all your strength, reminds us that where our treasure is, there our heart is also (cf. Matthew 6:21), and that it is in our little things, securities and affections where we are at stake in being able to say Yes to the Lord or turn our back to Him like the rich young man. You cannot be content with having an ordered and comfortable life, which enables you to live without worries, without feeling the need to cultivate a spirit of poverty rooted in the Heart of Christ who, being rich, made Himself poor out of love for us (cf. 2 Corinthians 8:9) or, as the text says, to enrich us. We are asked to acquire the genuine freedom of the children of God, in an appropriate relation with the world and with earthly goods, in keeping with the example of the Apostles, whom Jesus invites to trust in Providence and to follow Him without burdens or ties (cf. Luke 9:57-62; Mark 10:17-22). Do not forget this: the devil always enters through the pocket – always. Moreover, it is good to learn to give thanks for what we have, giving up the superfluous generously and voluntarily, to be closer to the poor and the weak. Blessed Domingo y Sol said that to aid need one should be ready to “sell one’s shirt.” I will not ask you for so much: shirtless priests no, simply that you be witnesses of Jesus through simplicity and austerity of life, to be able to be credible promoters of true social justice (cf. John Paul II, Pastores dabo vobis, 30). And, please, and <I ask > this as brother, as Father, as friend – please, flee from ecclesiastical careerism: it is a plague. Flee from it.
Dear Superiors, schoolboys and former students of this Spanish College of Saint Joseph: let us entrust to the Holy Patriarch, Protector of the Church, your worries and plans, may he accompany you, together with Mary Most Holy, invoked by the College’s tradition as Most Clement Mother, so that you can grow in wisdom and grace, and be beloved disciples of the Good Shepherd. May God bless you.

[Original text: Spanish]  [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

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