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Wednesday, March 30, 2011
"FAITHFULNESS AND SERVICE: CHARACTERISTICS OF PRIESTS"
VATICAN CITY, 11 MAR 2011 (VIS) - Yesterday morning, as is traditional at the beginning of Lent, the Pope met with pastors and priests of the diocese of Rome to whom he imparted a "lectio divina" inspired by St. Paul's address to the elders of Ephesus in chapter twenty of the Acts of the Apostles, focusing on the priesthood as service and faithfulness. "One cannot be a priest part-time", said the Holy Father. "We are always priests with all our soul and with all our heart. ... Being an ambassador of Christ ... is a mission which penetrates our entire being". The Apostle Paul "did not preach an 'a la carte' Christianity, organised according to taste, he did not preach a Gospel according to his own preferred theological ideas". Priests "must announce the will of God entire, including the 'more difficult' will, ... the themes they may least like personally". Referring then to Lent which has just begun, the Pope spoke of conversion which, he said, must be reflected, above all, in "a change of thinking and of heart" which leads us to focus not on the things of the world, "but on the presence of God in the world". The Pope also highlighted the importance that spiritual life must have for priests. "Praying and meditating on the word of God is not time lost from the care of souls, but a condition enabling us to remain in contact with the Lord, and so be able to speak first hand of Him to others". Finally, the Pope encouraged priests not to lose hope, despite the difficulties they may encounter in their ministry. "The truth is stronger than lies", he concluded, "and love is stronger than hatred. God is stronger than all adverse forces. With this joy, with this inner certainty we follow our journey amidst the consolations of God and the persecutions of the world".