“The time we dedicate to the Lord in prayer, in meditation, and in a personal encounter is never lost time,” said Cardinal Beniamino Stella, on opening the works of a Congress on the Priestly Ministry at the Pontifical French Seminary of Rome, on January 4, 2018. The Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy recommended to the seminarians an hour of prayer a day.
Priests can be “good administrators, have important titles, have the qualities of a manager or be refined liturgists and experts in sacred rites, but without Jesus, there isn’t true priesthood,” affirmed the Cardinal in his homily reported by L’Osservatorte Romano. And he invited the seminarians to “watch so as not to be surprised by the night or overtaken by the sleep of the spirit, taking care to live with intensity the relationship with the Lord to be His true disciples.
“One can’t be the Lord’s disciple, by having some notions about Him or simply by doing something in His name.” It’s necessary “to ‘go and see’ where He lives and to stay with him, namely, to cultivate a genuine and personal friendship with Him, to stop in the intimacy of His presence, to become familiar with His word, and to encounter Him in personal prayer,” stressed Cardinal Stella.
For the Prefect, “one hour each day is necessary, a time for the Lord, to allow oneself to be encountered by Him and to grow in His friendship . . . The time that we dedicate to the Lord in prayer, in meditation, and in a personal encounter, is never lost time.” “On the contrary, the more generous we are with those times offered to God, the more we will be able to go to brothers with a pastor’s heart and as precious instruments of the Father’s tenderness,” he continued.
“Contemplation of God’s face, listening to His word, the sharing of a personal and daily friendship with Him, becomes strength for the evangelizing mission, to go to encounter brothers and lead them also to discover the consoling joy of the Gospel.”
The Prefect left the seminarians with questions for an examination of conscience: “I, who am a seminarian and who am preparing to be a priest, what am I really seeking? Am I seeking the Lord to allow myself to be captured by His word and by the beauty of His love and so be able to proclaim to brothers, or do I follow my <own> interest, aspire to become an authority, aspire for a career?… Are my steps moved, as those of the disciples, by the ardent desire to encounter the Lord and to discover where He dwells to be able to dwell with Him, or do they go in other directions?”
Translation by Virginia M. Forrester