Says Consecration Is Sacrifice and Immersion in Christ
VATICAN CITY, APRIL 9, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is urging priests to be holy by living the essence of their vocation, as reflected in the prayer of Christ, that his followers be consecrated in truth.
The Pope said this in the homily of today's Chrism Mass, which he concelebrated this morning with the cardinals, bishops and priests of Rome.
He told the ordained ministers, who renewed their priestly vows during the Mass, "The Lord asks for our sanctification, sanctification in truth."
The Pontiff recalled the words of Jesus in his prayer for the Apostles and all priests: "For their sake I consecrate myself."
"To consecrate something or someone," he explained, means "to give that thing or person to God as his property, to take it out of the context of what is ours and to insert it in his milieu, so that it no longer belongs to our affairs, but is totally of God."
He continued: "The thing or person no longer belongs to us, or even to itself, but is immersed in God. Such a giving up of something in order to give it over to God, we also call a sacrifice: this thing will no longer be my property, but his property."
In this way, the Holy Father said, the priest is "charged to represent others," and, "removed from worldly bonds and given over to God, […] he is available for others, for everyone."
In this sense, he added, the "consecration" of the priest also becomes his "sacrifice," mirroring "the priestly act by which Jesus -- the Man Jesus, who is one with the Son of God -- gives himself over to the Father for us."
Benedict XVI affirmed that the disciples are sanctified, "drawn deep within God," by "being immersed in the word of God."
He urged his listeners to also be "pervaded by the word of God," noting that for the Apostles this word is "the bath which purifies them, the creative power which transforms them into God’s own being."
Humility and obedience
The Pope noted the existence of a "destructive pride and a presumption that tear every community apart and result in violence," and thus he urged his listeners to "learn from Christ the correct humility which corresponds to the truth of our being, and the obedience which submits to truth, to the will of God."
He exhorted the ordained ministers to shape their criteria by Gospel values rather than popular opinion, and to "become ever anew disciples of that truth which is revealed in the word of God."
"Our being priests," affirmed the Pontiff, "is simply a new way of being united to Christ."
He continued: "Being united to Christ calls for renunciation. It means not wanting to impose our own way and our own will, not desiring to become someone else, but abandoning ourselves to him, however and wherever he wants to use us."
At our priestly ordination, the Holy Father said, "we made this fundamental renunciation of our desire to be independent, 'self-made.'"
He added: "But day by day this great 'yes' has to be lived out in the many little 'yeses' and small sacrifices. This 'yes' made up of tiny steps which together make up the great 'yes,' can be lived out without bitterness and self-pity only if Christ is truly the center of our lives."
"Then indeed we experience," he noted, "amid sacrifices which can at first be painful, the growing joy of friendship with him, and all the small and sometimes great signs of his love, which he is constantly showing us."
Benedict XVI noted that this friendship with Christ is cultivated in prayer, which is "a journey in personal communion with Christ, setting before him our daily life, our successes and failures, our struggles and our joys -- in a word, it is to stand in front of him."
He continued: "But if this is not to become a form of self-contemplation, it is important that we constantly learn to pray by praying with the Church. Celebrating the Eucharist means praying.
"We celebrate the Eucharist rightly if with our thoughts and our being we enter into the words which the Church sets before us. There we find the prayer of all generations, which accompany us along the way towards the Lord.
"As priests, in the Eucharistic celebration we are those who by their prayer blaze a trail for the prayer of today's Christians. If we are inwardly united to the words of prayer, if we let ourselves be guided and transformed by them, then the faithful will also enter into those words."
And then all of us will become truly “one body, one spirit” in Christ.
The Pope noted that being immersed in God's truth and holiness means "to acknowledge that the truth makes demands, to stand up, in matters great and small, to the lie which in so many different ways is present in the world; accepting the struggles associated with the truth, because its inmost joy is present within us."
He affirmed that it also means "being immersed in his goodness, in true love." He added: "True love does not come cheap, it can also prove quite costly. It resists evil in order to bring men true good."
The Pontiff affirmed that Christ prays for all priests, for the "true sanctification which transforms their being," and that it be "translated day by day in our lives."
He explained that priestly ordination means being immersed in Christ, in the Truth. He concluded, "Dear friends, in this hour of the renewal of promises, we want to pray to the Lord to make us men of truth, men of love, men of God."
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