Pope Francis met Monday in the Vatican with seminarians from regions around Rome, warning them that the Church has “many half priests” who fail to reach their potential because they are not “pastors in the mage of Jesus.”
The seminarians are members of the Pontifical Leonine College of Anagni, a regional seminary for several of the dioceses around the city of Rome.
“We have so many, so many half way priests,” the Pope told the young men. “It is a sorrow, that they do not succeed in reaching the fullness.
“They have something about them of employees, a bureaucratic dimension and this does no good to the Church. I advise you, be careful that you do not fall into this!”
He continued, “You are becoming pastors in the image of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, to be like Him and in His person in the midst of his flock, to feed his sheep.”
Acknowledging the hesitation common in men contemplating the priesthood, Francis noted: “We can answer as Mary did to the angel: ‘How is this possible?’
“To become ‘good pastors’ in the image of Jesus is something too great, and we are so small …. It’s true! … We are among the smallest of men. It’s true, it is too great, but it’s not our work! It is the work of the Holy Spirit, with our collaboration,” he said.
Encouraging them to not be overwhelmed, Francis explained the process involves sacrifice: “It is about offering oneself humbly, as clay to be molded, so that the potter, who is God, can shape it with water and fire, with the Word and the Spirit.”
Francis affirmed that the seminary is not an escape. It’s “not a refuge for the many limitations we might have,” he said, “a refuge from psychological lacks or a refuge because I don’t have the courage to go forward in life and I seek there a place that defends me. No, it’s not this.
“If your seminary was this, it would become a mortgage for the Church! No, the seminary is precisely to go forward.”
The Holy Father discussed that prayer, study, fraternity, and apostolic life interact and are the “four pillars, four dimensions on which a seminary must live.”
The Pontiff focused on necessary attributes of the role of the priest, including not being frightened, going to confession, and daily conversion. Following this path of becoming a priest “means to meditate every day on the Gospel, to transmit it with your life and your preaching.”
He closed by calling upon Mary. He said, “Never forget her! The Russian mystics said that in the moment of spiritual turbulence it is necessary to seek refuge under the mantle of the Holy Mother of God.” (D.C.L.)
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