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Sunday, April 27, 2008

"The Meaning of Priest"

From Vatican Radio

(26 Apr 08 - RV)As Pope Benedict prepares to ordain 29 men to the priesthood for the diocese of Rome, we take a look at what it takes to be a priest, according to the Holy Father:

It has become a yearly tradition, this ceremony where Pope Benedict XVI, in his role as Bishop of Rome, bestows the sacrament of Holy Orders on a group of men from his own Diocese.

The group counts 29 deacons, students at Rome’s Major seminary in St John Lateran, on the south side of the Tiber, but not all of them are Italians. Among them, there is also a Haitian, three young South Americans, from Chile Colombia and Paraguay, a French man, a deacon from Kerala India and a deacon from Baghdad in Iraq. Underscoring the universality of the Church of Rome.

On Sunday they will prostrate themselves before Pope Benedict XVI above the tomb of St Peter’s and promise to dedicate their lives to serving the people of God, his Church and the Gospel. They will promise their loyalty to fellow priests and obedience to their Bishop, the Pope.

The annual celebration of this sacrament has become a focal point for many young seminarians worldwide. Because it is on this occasion, that Pope Benedict XVI returns to one of the recurring themes of his Pontificate to date. What it means to be a priest. Just a few examples.

In celebrating the Chrism mass this Holy Thursday Pope Benedict XVI spoke about the mission to Priesthood. Putting it quite simply he said; “Two functions, define the essence of the ministerial priesthood: "to stand in God’s presence and serve Him”. During that homily Pope Benedict also indicated some necessary qualities in candidates, he said “the priest must be an upright person, vigilant, fearless and prepared to sustain even offences for the Lord”.

In his recent trip to the United States, he also frequently returned to the issue of the Priesthood, in particular to priestly formation and vocations. In the National Shrine in Washington he told US bishops that filling seminaries cannot take precedence over the quality of candidates. On th eplane on the way to the US capital he had told journalists “it is more important to have good priests than many priests”.

He also told young Americans gathered in the Yankee Stadium, to open their hearts to the Lord's call to follow him in the priesthood and the religious life,"

But for many Pope Benedict’s most moving and encouraging message for those young men in seminaries across the world today was delivered on the green meadow of St Josephs Seminary Yonkers, New York.

“The People of God look to you to be holy priests, on a daily journey of conversion, inspiring in others the desire to enter more deeply into the ecclesial life of believers. I urge you to deepen your friendship with Jesus the Good Shepherd. Talk heart to heart with him. Reject any temptation to ostentation, careerism, or conceit. Strive for a pattern of life truly marked by charity, chastity and humility, in imitation of Christ, the Eternal High Priest, of whom you are to become living icons”.

AUDIO FILE: News report from Vatican Radio about the "Meaning of Priest" - Click HERE.

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