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Holy Father’s Homily for Ordination of 19 to Priesthood in Vatican Basilica (Full Text)

56th World Day of Prayer for Vocations

On May 12, 2019, Fourth Sunday of Easter and 56th World Day of Prayer for Vocations,Pope Francis presided over Mass in the Vatican Basilica, in the course of which he conferred Presbyterial Ordination on 19 Deacons, eight of whom were from the Redemptoris Mater Diocesan College, eight from the Priestly Fraternity of Sons of the Cross, one from the Pontifical Roman Major Seminary, and two from other Colleges.

Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, His Holiness’ Vicar General for the Diocese of Rome; Cardinal Abril y Castello Santos, Archpriest Emeritus of the Papal Basilica of Saint Mary Major, Auxiliary Bishops; Superiors of respective Seminaries and Parish Priests of the Ordination candidates concelebrated with the Holy Father.

The homily the Holy Father gave in the course of the Eucharistic Celebration was, in essence, the Homily provided in the Ritual for the Ordination of Presbyters, to which, however, he added some of his considerations.

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The Holy Father’s Homily

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

These sons of ours have been called to the Order of the Presbyterate. It will do us all good to reflect carefully on the ministry to which they will be elevated in the Church. As you well know, brothers, the Lord Jesus is the sole Supreme Priest of the New Testament; however, in Him, all the holy People of God were constituted a priestly people. Nonetheless, among all His disciples, the Lord Jesus wills to choose some in particular, so that, exercising publicly in the Church in His name the priestly office in favor of all men, His personal mission of teacher, priest, and shepherd would continue. As, in fact, He was sent for this by the Father, so He in turn sent into the world, first the Apostles and then the Bishops and their Successors, to whom finally presbyters were given as collaborators that, united to them in the priestly ministry, are called to the service of the People of God.

After many years of reflection — their reflection, the reflection of Superiors, of those that accompanied them on this journey –, they are presented today so that I confer on them the Priestly Order. They, in fact, will be configured to Christ, High, and Eternal Priest, that is, they will be consecrated as true priests of the New Testament, and to this title, which unites them in the priesthood to their Bishop, they will be preachers of the Gospel, shepherds the People of God, and they will preside over acts of worship, especially in the celebration of the Lord’s sacrifice, namely in the Eucharist.

As for you, dear brothers and sons, who are about to be promoted to the Order of the Presbyterate, consider that exercising the ministry of the Sacred Doctrine you will be participants in the mission of Christ, sole Teacher. This isn’t a cultural association; it isn’t a syndicate. You will be participants in Christ’s ministry. Dispense that Word of God to all, which you yourselves received with joy. And to this end, read and meditate assiduously the Word of the Lord to believe what you have read, to teach what you have learned in the faith and to live what you have taught.  A homily and preaching can never be made without much prayer, with the Bile in hand.  Don’t forget this.

May your doctrine, therefore, be the nourishment of the People of God; when it comes from the heart and is born of prayer, it will be that much more fruitful. May joy and support of the faithful of Christ be the perfume of your life: men of prayer, men of sacrifice, because with the Word and example you build the House of God, which is the Church. And thus you will continue the sanctifying work of Christ.  Through your ministry, the spiritual sacrifice of the faithful is made perfect, because it is joined to Christ’s sacrifice, which, in the name of the whole Church is offered by your hands in a bloodless way on the altar in the celebration of the Holy Mysteries. Be attentive in the celebration of the Eucharist.  Recognize, therefore, what you do.  Imitate what you celebrate because, taking part in the mystery of the Lord’s Death and Resurrection, you bear Christ’ death in your members and walk with Him in newness of life.  The Lord willed freely to save us. He Himself has said to us: “Give freely what you have received freely.” The celebration of the Eucharist is the summit of the Lord’s gratuitousness. Please, don’t soil it with narrow interests.

With Baptism, you will add new faithful to the People of God. With the Sacrament of Penance, you will remit sins in the Name of God, of Christ and of the Church. And here, I ask you, please, not to tire of being merciful. Merciful as the Father, as Jesus was merciful with us, with all of us. With the holy oil, you will give relief to the infirm. Spend time visiting the sick and the infirm. By celebrating the sacred rites and raising a prayer of praise and supplication in the various hours of the day, you will make yourselves the voice of the People of God and of the whole of humanity.

Aware of having been chosen among men and constituted in their favor to attend to the things of God, exercise in gladness and charity <and> with sincerity the priestly work of Christ, solely intent on pleasing God and not yourselves. Priestly joy is only found in this way, seeking to please God who has chosen us. Finally, taking part in the mission of Christ, Head, and Shepherd, in filial communion with your Bishop, commit yourselves to unite the faithful in one sole family. Here is the closeness proper of the priest: close to God in prayer; close to the Bishop who is your Father, close to the Presbytery, to the other priests, as brothers, without “skinning” one another [speaking badly of one another], and close to the People of God. Always have before your eyes the example of the Good Shepherd, who did not come to be served, but to serve and to seek to save what was lost.

[Original text: Italian]  [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

© Libreria Editrice Vatican

About Virginia Forrester

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