Pope Francis has told Calabrian priests that they are to be joyful, to live as brothers and family, and he has warned them against individualist tendencies.
Addressing diocesan priests at noon today in the cathedral of the Calabrian city of Cassano all’Jonio, the Pope stressed the beauty of being called by the Lord to the priesthood, and therefore, directed them to “be happy.”
He stressed the “joy of being priests” and the “beauty of brotherhood,” during this meeting which took place after his visiting the sick at the “San Giuseppe Moscati” hospice. He is on a day trip to Calabria.
First acknowledging priests’ burden to “bear the daily weight of parish work,” Francis reminded them that despite the vocation’s challenges, remember “the joy of being priests.” He added, there is “nothing more beautiful” than feeling the “gaze of Jesus on us,” especially when we are before the tabernacle, which “renews and reanimates us.”
Although being before the Lord is not always easy, he admitted, it “does us good!” In the silence of prayer, he explained, Jesus can show priests whether they are properly living out their vocation.
“Jesus makes us see if we are working as good agents, or as …’employees.'” He also shows us whether “we are open, generous ‘channels’ through which His love, His grace, can flow abundantly, or, if, instead, we put ourselves at the center …. making us ‘screens’ which do not help the encounter with the Lord, instead of ‘channels,’ he said.
The Bishop of Rome spoke on the beauty of fraternity: “of being priests together, of following the Lord not on their own, one by one, but together.” This great variety of “of gifts and personalities,” he said, enriches the Church.
He noted this is “not easy” and “can be taken for granted” because there is a tendency to be egocentric, rather than think of one’s brothers. Francis called this a problem, which “is diffused throughout dioceses.”
“The joy of being priests and the beauty of fraternity: these are the two things that I felt most important thinking of you. I mention only one last thing: I encourage you in your work with families and for the family.”
Speaking on fraternity, the Holy Father said priests must be joyful and fraternal for the sake of the “family,” as both “an institution” and for families struggling “due to the crisis.”
“Precisely when times are difficult, God makes His closeness felt, His grace, the prophetic force of His Word. And we are called to be witnesses, mediators of this closeness to families and of this prophetic force for the family,” Francis said.
The Holy Father closed, telling them to go forward in their love for the Lord and the Church, and calling on Mary to accompany and protect them.
After this meeting with priests at 1 p.m., the Pope had lunch with the poor and young people of the Mauro Rostagno residential therapeutic rehabilitation centre, which the local Caritas chapter helped facilate, at the John Paul I Seminary.
At 2 p.m., the Pope made a special visit to the Casa Serena residence, a religious home for the elderly, before a Mass which would start at 4 p.m, after which, the Pope will return to Rome.
On Zenit’s Web page:
Full Translation: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/pope-s-address-to-calabrian-priests