VATICAN CITY, JUNE 28, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI linked the Year of St. Paul with the Year for Priests by offering the Apostle of the Gentiles as a role model for priests.
Before praying the Angelus together with the crowds gathered today in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope reflected on the Year of St. Paul, which marked the 2,000th anniversary of the Apostle’s birth.
The Holy Father closed the Pauline Year in the evening with the celebration of first vespers for the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome. Papal representatives sent to preside at celebrations in the Holy Land, Malta, Cyprus, Turkey, Greece, Syria and Lebanon also brought the year to a close.
“It has truly been a time of grace,” the Holy Father said, recalling the numerous initiatives that put the Apostle of the Gentiles at the forefront of Church life for the last year. “His vibrant message has revived everywhere, in Christian communities, a passion for Christ and the Gospel.”
Benedict XVI thanked God for the jubilee year, “and for all the spiritual gifts that it has brought to us.”
Pointing to the recently launched jubilee year for priests, which marks the 150th anniversary of the death of St. John Mary Vianney, known as the Curé d’Ars, the Pontiff noted that St. Paul “constitutes a splendid model to imitate.”
“St. Paul is an example of a priest who was completely identified with his ministry,” the Pope said, “conscious of possessing a priceless treasure, that is, the message of salvation, but in an ‘earthen vessel.'”
“He is at the same time strong and humble, intimately persuaded that everything is God’s doing, everything is grace,” the Holy Father added.
“The priest,” Benedict XVI concluded, “must belong totally to Christ and totally to the Church; to the latter he is called to dedicate himself with an undivided love, like a faithful husband to his bride.”