Priestly Life Requires Ever-Increasing Thirst for Sanctity
VATICAN CITY, 20 JAN 2012 (VIS) – This morning in the Clementine Hall the Holy Father received seventy professors and students of the diocesan seminary of Rome, the “Almo Collegio Capranica”. Tomorrow the 555 year-old college will be celebrating the feast of its patroness St Agnes, and it was on that third-century virgin and martyr that the Holy Father focused his remarks.
“For St. Agnes martyrdom meant agreeing to spend her young life, generously and freely, completely and without reserve, so that the Gospel could be announced as the truth and beauty which illuminates existence. … In martyrdom Agnes also confirmed the other decisive element of her life: her virginity for Christ and the Church. Her path to the compete gift of self in martyrdom was, in fact, prepared by her informed, free and mature choice of virginity, testimony of her desire to belong entirely to Christ. … While still young Agnes had learned that being a disciple of the Lord means loving Him, even at the cost of one’s life”.
“Formation for the priesthood likewise requires integrity, maturity, asceticism, constancy and heroic fidelity in all aspects. All this must be founded upon a solid spiritual life animated by an intense relationship with God, as individuals and in the community, with a particular care for liturgical celebrations and frequent recourse to the Sacraments. Priestly life requires an ever-increasing thirst for sanctity, a clear ‘sensus Ecclesiae’ and an openness to fraternity without exclusion or bias”, said the Holy Father.
“Part of a priest’s journey of sanctity is his decision to develop, with God’s help, his own intellect, his own commitment: an authentic and solid personal culture which is the fruit of constant and impassioned study. Faith has an indispensable rational and intellectual element. … Those who also achieve maturity in this global cultural formation will be more effective educators and animators of that worship ‘in spirit and in truth’ about which Jesus spoke to the woman of Samaria. Such worship … must become … a process whereby man himself, as a being gifted with reason, becomes worship and glorification of the living God”.
“Always maintain a profound sense of the history and traditions of the Church”, the Pope told his audience. “Here you have the opportunity to open yourselves to an international horizon. … Learn to understand the situations of the various countries and Churches of the world. … Ready yourselves to approach all the men and women you will meet, ensuring that no culture is a barrier to the Word of life, which you must announce even with your lives”.
“The Church expects a lot from young priests in the work of evangelisation and new evangelisation. I encourage you in your daily efforts that, rooted in the beauty of authentic tradition and profoundly united to Christ, you may bring Him into your communities with truth and joy”.