Priesthood: The Greatest Friendship, says Cardinal Stella

Homily at a Course for Seminary Formators

Ordination, Westminster Cathedral, June 24, 2017 / © CCEW - Mazur/Catholicnews.Org.Uk, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The priesthood is bout “friendship, the greatest there is, from which all others stem . . . are transformed, are filled with greater meaning,” said Cardinal Beniamino Stella to the participants in a course on the formation of priests, organized by the Congregation for the Clergy.

The Congregation’s Prefect celebrated Mass with the participants in the course in Saint Peter’s Basilica, inviting them in his homily to reawaken the joy of the priestly gift,” reported L’Osservatore Romano.

Cardinal Stella stressed the primacy of God and the necessity to “put one’s relationship with Him above all.” It is not about “diminishing the value of family affections” or “of renouncing for the simple pleasure of renouncing,” but of remembering that “the faith is not reduced to the exterior observance of some precept or the practice of morality but it is, first of all, a living relationship with the Lord.”

In sum, “Jesus tells us that it is a question of friendship, the greatest there is, from which all others stem . . . are transformed, are filled with greater meaning.” So Pastors can live “a larger paternity and maternity, and receive also as brothers and sisters all those outside any bond.”

“We are in need of priests that do not put anything before the relationship of friendship with the Lord. Who have with Him bonds of ‘flesh and blood’ capable of involving them totally, of involving them body and soul, spirit and heart; so that their bonds with Him and their service are never subordinated to other bonds, darkened by disordered affective dependencies, bowed to interests of power and career or polluted by logics contrary to the Gospel . . . In brief, priests and Pastors interiorly free and consecrated full time to the cause of the Gospel,” he stressed.

This attitude is spelled out in the logic of gift, which consists in assuming “the same behavior as Jesus, in other words, of assuming the logic of His Cross, while learning each day to give one’s life for others, as He did.” It is about “overcoming the temptation to keep one’s life only for oneself,” continued the Cardinal.

He encouraged to form priests who “desire to proclaim the Gospel and spend themselves for the people,” who “let themselves be moved by people’s wounds and let themselves be worn out by the needs of others.”

Jesus’ style, which is one of welcome, must also be established in the Seminary, explained Cardinal Stella, so that “a model of Pastor matures . . . capable of receiving everyone, of having an ‘inclusive’ heart as that of Christ, also of being able to accompany those that live in complex situations in their life, without excluding anyone or leaving them behind.”

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