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1
Jun
2016

Jubilee for Priests

01 June 2016 - 03 June 2016 (Termin in Kalender eintragen)

St. Peter's Square

 

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

From 9:00 to 16:00

In the Jubilee churches:

Eucharistic Adoration

Sacrament of Reconciliation

Pilgrimages to the Holy Door

 

17:30 Catechesis and Holy Mass for the different language groups (Italian, English, Spanish, Polish, French, German, Portuguese)

 

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Retreat preached by the Holy Father

10:00 – First reflection

12:00 – Second reflection

16:00 – Third reflection

17:30   Concelebrated Eucharistic Celebration

 

Friday, June 3, 2016

Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

9:30 Holy Mass  Pope Francis in Saint Peter's Square

 

 

“In the image of the Good Shepherd, a priest is a man of mercy and compassion

close to his people and the servant of all.

Pope Francis

INFORMATION

The Holy Father will celebrate the Jubilee for Priests from 1 to 3 June. As a sign of communion, every particular Church is invited to take part in this celebration by planning a local version of the activities that will take place in Rome, according to their particular needs. Dioceses are being asked in a particular way to coordinate their plans with the three meditations that will be offered by Pope Francis on Thursday, 2 June, in preparation for the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, which occurs the following day.

 

Thursday, 2 June

During the first part of the day, priests and seminarians are invited to visit one of the three Jubilee Churches indicated by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization for the Holy Year (San Salvatore in Lauro, Santa Maria in Vallicella, San Giovanni dei Fiorentini), where they will be able to take part in the Sacrament of Reconciliation and to spend time in Eucharistic Adoration.

The participants will also make the pilgrimage to the Holy Door of Saint Peter’s Basilica, walking along the reserved pathway that leads from the area outside of Castel Sant’Angelo up Via della Conciliazione.  A time slot for making their pilgrimage will be indicated to the participants; there will also be spiritual accompaniment in their own languages.

The second part of the day will consist in a catechesis on the theme of mercy, given by a Bishop. This will be followed by a concelebrated Mass. For this part of the schedule, which will take place in the late afternoon, some of the Churches in the central historic zone of Rome will welcome the priests and seminarians, according to linguistic groups.

The following languages are guaranteed: English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, and Spanish

The catechist bishops thus far confirmed are:

 

English

S.E.R. Mons. Robert Barron

Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles

 

French

S.E.R. Mons. Vincent Dollmann

Auxiliary Bishop of Strasburgo

 

German

S.E.R. Mons. Georg Gänswein

Prefect of the Papal Household

 

Italian

S.E.R. Card. Gianfranco Ravasi

President of the Pontifical Council for Culture

 

Polish

S.E.R. Mons. Grzegorz Rys

Auxiliary Bishop of Krakow

 

Portuguese

S.E.R. Mons. Paulo Cezar Costa

Auxiliary Bishop of Rio de Janeiro

 

Thursday, 2 June

The second day of the Jubilee for Priests will be dedicated to the spiritual retreat for all the priests and seminarians of the world, led by the Holy Father.

In Rome, the participants will gather in three Basilicas to follow the meditations.  During the day, Pope Francis will offer three meditations, one in each Basilica.  These meditations will be transmitted live by Vatican Television (Centro Televisivo Vaticano); they will be available throughout the world via Internet or through the television stations that will transmit the event. The technical specifications for following the broadcast will be sent in a timely manner to Dioceses and interested communications networks.

The retreat will conclude with the concelebrated Eucharist according to linguistic groups. Priests should bring their own albs and white stoles; along with the seminarians they will meet at the place indicated to them for the celebration.

At the Pilgrim Information Center each individual participant and every group will receive information regarding the Basilica to which they should go for the spirituality day.  For logistical and security motives, the PASS that will be given to every participant will grant entrance only to the location indicated on it.

 

Friday, 3 June

The Jubilee for Priests will conclude with the solemn celebration of the Mass for the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus by Pope Francis. Concelebration will be possible for all participating priests who come with their ticket, alb and white stole.  The time and place where they should gather will be indicated to them subsequently. Tickets for concelebration or participation in the Mass will be distributed at the Pilgrim Information Center.

 

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

 

Who can participate in the Jubilee for Priests?

All Bishops, priests, and those who are in the process of formation for priesthood in Major Seminaries or Houses of Formation are invited to participate in this event, in communion with the Holy Father.

 

How do you join the Jubilee for Priests in Rome?

All the priests and seminarians who intend to participate in the Jubilee event in Rome should register by filling out the registration form available on the Jubilee webpage, www.im.va. To access this form, you must first register on the site, after which it will be possible to indicate which Jubilee event you wish to attend; in this case, the “Jubilee for Priests”.

So that adequate locations for the Jubilee gatherings can be planned, it is very important that you indicate, in the section “Details for the Event”, the activities in which you want to take part (pilgrimage to the Holy Door, Catecheses, Retreat with the Holy Father, Holy Mass on the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus).  Groups of priests or seminarians should fill in the number of people who will participate in each activity, as prompted. If the registration is for a single participant, write “one” (1) in the space indicated.

 

Attention: When the registration form has been correctly filled out, the system will give the participant this message: “Your registration form has been saved successfully”. With this confirmation, the registrant may consider himself formally enrolled in the event. Later, closer to the event itself, those enrolled will receive further useful information through email. The registration system will not send another type of confirmation.

 

Note: Bishops may inform the Organizing Secretariat of the events in which they want to participate through email (info@im.va).

 

What should I do after I register?

Every priest and seminarian should plan and pay for their own trip to Rome and their own accommodations. When they arrive in Rome, participants are invited to come to the Pilgrim Information Center located at Via della Conciliazione 7, where they can pick up the PASS grants entrance to the Jubilee activities.

It is important to remember that security measures have been intensified recently; for this reason the participant PASSES are indispensible for taking part in the activities of the Jubilee, particularly when the Holy Father will be present.  For the same reason, we ask each priest to bring his celebret card, or in the case of seminarians, the ID card that attests that he belongs to a seminary or house of formation.

The Pilgrim Information Center is open to the public every day from 7:30 to 18:30.

 

When is the registration deadline?

You must register by May 29.

 

Is there a cost to participate in the event?

Participants are asked to make a contribution of ten euro (€10.00), to help cover the costs of the event. The donation is voluntary, and can be paid when picking up the PASS at the Pilgrim Information Center.

 

 

In which locations will the event be held?

The places for the activities will be sent to the participants through email.  We also invite you to follow the updates on this site.  

 

In which parts of the Jubilee for Priests may lay people and religious participate?

All the faithful are invited to participate in the Holy Mass with the Holy Father on Friday, 3 June, praying in thanksgiving for the gift of the ministerial priesthood and for the sanctification of all priests.  The activities of 1 and 2 June are reserved exclusively to bishops, priests, and seminarians.

 

 

Important Information for Participation in the Jubilee for Priests

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Dear Father/Seminarian,

 

            We are truly delighted that you will be participating in the upcoming Jubilee for Priests to be held in Rome on June 1-3, 2016. The following contains important practical details regarding your participation:

 

1.      Upon arrival in Rome, each Group Leader or priest/seminarian who has registered individually must confirm in person their participation in the Jubilee for Priests by visiting the Pilgrimage Information Center which is located on Via della Conciliazione 7. This may be done beginning on Sunday, May 29 between the hours of 7:30-18:30 (daily operating hours), by presenting the voucher that will be emailed to you in the coming days.

 

2.      At the Pilgrimage Information Center, each priest who has registered individually is to present his official celebret. For groups, it is enough for the group leader to present his celebret. The Group Leader will receive for each member of his/her group, as will each person who registered individually: A) the official PASS to participate in each programed event and on which will be indicated the name of the Basilica to which the priest/seminarian has been assigned for the Spiritual Retreat. It must be emphasized that it is necessary to respect this indication and not to change the Basilica, as all participants have been assigned to each of the three Papal Basilicas according to language groupings, as well as in view of simultaneous translation services. N.B. for security reasons, this PASS must be worn during all of the organized events; B) the Concelebration ticket – or in the case of seminarians an entrance ticket - for the Holy Mass on Friday, June 3 which will be celebrated by Pope Francis; C) the booklet which contains a variety of informational details regarding participation in the Jubilee, as well as liturgical aids. When receiving these materials, every group leader or every priest who registered individually will be able to pay the 10 euro solidarity contribution for each participant.

 

3.      Those who have registered to participate only in the Holy Mass on Friday, June 3, need not pay the solidarity contribution. Free tickets for the Mass may be picked up at the Pilgrimage Information Center. However, it is important to note that these are not tickets for Concelebration but general tickets for entrance into St. Peter’s Square.

 

4.      On Wednesday, June 1 from 9:00-16:00, all participants will be able to make a pilgrimage through the Holy Door of St. Peter’s according to the diverse language groups as noted on the program which will be included in the event booklet. During this time, participants may also visit one of the three Jubilee Churches where the Sacrament of Reconciliation will be available and where there will be Eucharistic Adoration. Missionaries of Mercy will be available to hear Confessions in various languages. The Jubilee Churches are:

S. Salvatore in Lauro (Piazza di San Salvatore in Lauro, 15)

S. Maria in Vallicella [Chiesa Nuova] (Piazza della Chiesa Nuova)

S. Giovanni Battista dei Fiorentini (Piazza dell'Oro 1)

 

5.      On Wednesday, June 1 at 17:30, participants will be divided into various churches according to language groups for the catechesis. Immediately after this catechesis, and in the same church, there will be concelebrated Mass in that same languages. Those wishing to concelebrate are to bring an alb and a white stole. The churches are:

Italian:

Chiesa di S. Maria in Vallicella [Chiesa Nuova], Piazza della Chiesa Nuova

Spanish

Basilica dei XII Apostoli, Piazza dei Santi Apostoli, 51

English

Basilica di Sant’Andrea della Valle, Piazza Vidoni, 6

French

San Luigi dei Francesi, Piazza di S. Luigi de' Francesi

Polish

Basilica di S. Marco Evangelista al Campidoglio, Piazza di San Marco, 48

German

S. Salvatore in Lauro, Piazza di San Salvatore in Lauro, 15

Portuguese

Chiesa Santa Monica, Piazza S. Uffizio

 

6.      Thursday, June 2 is the Spiritual Retreat Day preached by the Holy Father to all priests and seminarians.

            N.B. Entrance into the Basilicas for the Spiritual Retreat is reserved for priests and seminarians only. Each priest and seminarian will only be allowed entrance into the Basilica noted on the PASS. It is important to keep in mind that June 2 is a public holiday in Italy and, therefore, public transportation will be available with limited services. Some areas of the historic center of Rome could undergo closures due to the military parade along the Via dei Fori Imperiali.

            The Holy Father will offer three mediations, one in each of the three Papal Basilicas of San Giovanni in Laterano, Santa Maria Maggiore and San Paolo fuori le Mura. The Retreat has been organized so that when the Holy Father is speaking in one of the above Basilicas, those present in the other two Basilicas will be able to watch live. The mediations will take place at 10:00, at 12:00 and at 16:00.  

            The Basilica of San Paolo fuori le Mura will welcome all non-Italian speaking priests and seminarians and will provide simultaneous translations in Spanish, English, French, German, Polish, and Portuguese. Those present at San Paolo fuori le Mura will also be provided with a free box lunch.

            The Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore will welcome Italian priests and seminarians not of the Diocese of Rome. The Archbasilica of San Giovanni in Laterano will welcome all priests – diocesan and religious -  and seminarians of the Diocese of Rome and all priests in the service of the Roman Curia.

            Immediately following the Holy Father’s third Mediation, there will be concelebrated Masses in the various languages. Priests participating in the  Archbasilica of San Giovanni in Laterano and the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore will celebrate in those Basilicas, while those participating in the Basilica of San Paolo fuori le Mura will be divided according to language groups into the following churches:

         Spanish and Portuguese

         Basilica di San Paolo fuori le Mura

         German

         Pontificio Oratorio San Paolo, Viale di San Paolo, 12

         English

         Parrochia S. Maria Regina degli Apostoli, Via Antonino Pio, 75

         French

         Cripta di S. Maria Regina degli Apostoli, Via Antonino Pio, 75

         Polish

         Sotto-cripta S. Maria Regina degli Apostoli, Via Antonino Pio, 75

 

N.B. 1) Those wishing to concelebrate are to bring an alb and a white stole. 2) S. Maria Regina degli Apostoli is a short walk from St. Paul Outside the Walls. Jubilee Volunteers will be present to direct all priests and seminarians. In any case, there will be buses available to arrive at the church.  

 

7.      Holy Mass will celebrated by Pope Francis on Friday, June 3 at 9:30 in St. Peter’s Square on the 160th Anniversary of the Institution of the Liturgical Feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus. To concelebrate, each priest must bring his own alb and white stole, as well as the appropriate ticket given to him by the Group Leader or which he himself had received at the Pilgrimage Information Center (cfr. n. 2 above). Each priest is asked to enter the Vatican at 7:30 a.m.—through the Petriano Entrance, often referred to as the Holy Office entrance to the Vatican (when facing the Basilica, the Holy Office entrance is located behind the left side of Bernini’s colonnade and is marked by the presence of Swiss Guards in uniform). From there, all priests will be directed to the Paul VI Hall (the Audience Hall of the Pope) where they will vest for Mass. N.B. As all priests must enter through normal security checks, it is absolutely imperative to arrive by 7:30 in order to facilitate the entrance together into the Vatican. All priests, vested for liturgy, will then enter in procession into the Piazza to take their assigned seats.

 

8.      On Friday, June 3 at 18:00 in St. Peter’s Square, all priests and seminarians are invited to join in the praying of the Holy Rosary.

 

9.      All other questions pertaining to the details of the Jubilee for Priests can be answered for you at the Pilgrimage Information Center.

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Given at the Jubilee of Priests at Santa Maria Regina degli Apostoli alla Montagnola in Rome on the feast of Ss Peter and Marcellinus, 2 June 2016.

'Jesus Christ risen from the dead, sprung from the race of David' (2 Tim 2.8). 

These twelve words, one of the earliest proclamations of our faith in the divinity and humanity of Christ, form the framework of our lives and mission as priests. 

St Paul then adds two other words: hardship and faithfulness, making fourteen in all. These words give shape to our reflection this evening. 

Paul speaks of his own hardships: being chained up like a criminal. Today we hold in memory two other martyrs of this city, Saints Marcellinus and Peter, a priest and an exorcist who were put to death in 304 in the persecution of Diocletian. Their suffering and their faithfulness was in bearing witness to Christ, the one who in his divinity raises our humanity to its fulfilment. 

Imagine this: there was a young boy here in Rome in the early part of the third century. One day he was listening to a man in their community in San Lorenzo giving testimony as to his conversion to Christianity. The man explained that he had been an executioner and he told the boy how one day in 304 he had executed two holy men, called Marcellinus and Peter. On witnessing their deaths, he had become a Christian. That boy became Pope Damasus (First) and it was he who worked hard to give these early martyrs dignified burials in what we now know as the catacombs and their associated churches. The blood of martyrs is indeed the seed of the Church. 

In the last few days in England we have been listening again to a story, handed down for over eight centuries, of another martyrdom. Last Saturday a precious relic of St Thomas Becket entered Canterbury Cathedral for the first time since the martyrdom of that Archbishop of Canterbury on 29 December 1170. It was the culmination of a 'pilgrimage' of this relic, brought from Esztergom in Hungary, returning to England for the first time since the age of Thomas’ death. 

Now from the moment of his death, the fame of Thomas Becket and strong devotion to him spread like wildfire across Europe. He became a symbol of the resistance of the Church to powerful and unscrupulous rulers, his death being all the more dramatic because he had previously served one such ruler, actually helping him to remove resources and power from the Church in order to strengthen the position of the Crown. 

In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Becket became a martyr who, in English literature and iconography, linked the apostles, Paul, the ancient martyrs, Marcellinus and Peter, with those of the later age of the Reformation, including of course St Thomas More. All gave witness to Christ; all bore hardships even unto death; all rejoiced in the faithfulness of Christ unto the Resurrection and the glory of heaven. 

Thomas Becket also quickly became the patron saint of the clergy, not just in England but in Hungary and in many European countries. He is our inspiration. Thomas embraced his ordination as priest and bishop with a radical seriousness. So should we. He turned his back on his previous ways of life, which had been focused on the comfort of possessions, the appeal of fashion and style, the protection of power and popularity. So should we. His focus became Christ, the sole measure and motivation of every word and action. This is to be our focus too. He made his own the words of St Paul: 'For him I have accepted the loss of everything if only I can have Christ and be given a place in him' (Phil 3.7-8). 

Thomas knew when compromise was no longer an acceptable path. His fellow bishops did not. They succumbed to pressure and opinion. For Thomas this led to a dramatic decision to return to his See, from exile, knowing his life was at risk. 

For us the risks are less dramatic. They creep up on us as we slowly compromise and lose our distinctive identity and with it some of the edge, the power, of the witness we are to give. 

I heard a disturbing story recently. If the water in which a frog is kept is slowly increased in temperature, slowly, ever so slowly, the frog doesn’t jump out but becomes so accustomed to the heat that it ends up dead, cooked by the water it is in. Today let us remember: better to be a good and faithful priest than a cooked frog! 

In the stories of Marcellinus and Peter and Thomas Becket their mortal remains, their relics, play an important part. They remind us of the human reality of these saints. They remind us of the earthiness of our mission: to be among and with the realities of this world, with all its messiness and brutality. As priests we may already experience some hardship. We can expect to do so. But we should never think of these hardships as special, as something which sets us apart from our people. We should never think of ourselves as 'hard done by'. The hardships of life are not discriminating and any priest who strives always to shelter himself from that shared hardship is on the track of losing his identity. He is on the road of the cooked frog. 

Like Jesus, we are sprung from the human race and share a full measure of its distress. 

But we live it in the light of the Resurrection. We strive to express in our struggles and our ministry that perseverance which is motivated by the vision of our heavenly destiny. Therefore, a priest who is always complaining about his troubles, about his lack of free time, about his lack of money, about his companions, about his bishop, is a counter sign. Yes, there is hardship; but, yes there is faithfulness; yes, there is resurrection, the true source of our daily hope, joy and perseverance. 

The shrine of Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral became, for four centuries, one of the great centres of European pilgrimage, until it was destroyed by another King, Henry VIII, who vowed not to make the same mistake as his predecessor, Henry II. One of the most remarkable pieces of evidence I heard last week was that the tomb of Thomas Becket became a place where, miraculously, reconciliation between enemies was often achieved. 

For this grace we too pray today: that our ministry as priests will be characterised by striving for the reconciliation of conflicting parties. This, of course, can only have its source in the gracious mercy of God, a mercy which, we know, God never tires of pouring out even while we grow weary of seeking it. But during this Year of Mercy this grace is indeed being poured out on the disciples of the Lord, especially through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Today we rejoice in this hope and in this privilege of our calling. 

Jesus Christ risen from the dead, sprung from the race of David. He is our hope and our joy. He is our head and our heart. Today we rejoice in our calling to be his priests and we call upon these holy saints and martyrs to help us in our hardship and to restore us in our faithfulness. 

Amen.

 

 

HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS

St Peter's Square 
Friday, 3 June 2016
Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

 

This celebration of the Jubilee for Priests on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus invites us all to turn to the heart, the deepest root and foundation of every person, the focus of our affective life and, in a word, his or her very core. Today we contemplate two hearts: the Heart of the Good Shepherd and our own heart as priests.

The Heart of the Good Shepherd is not only the Heart that shows us mercy, but is itself mercy. There the Father’s love shines forth; there I know I am welcomed and understood as I am; there, with all my sins and limitations, I know the certainty that I am chosen and loved. Contemplating that heart, I renew my first love: the memory of that time when the Lord touched my soul and called me to follow him, the memory of the joy of having cast the nets of our life upon the sea of his word (cf. Lk 5:5).

The Heart of the Good Shepherd tells us that his love is limitless; it is never exhausted and it never gives up. There we see his infinite and boundless self-giving; there we find the source of that faithful and meek love which sets free and makes others free; there we constantly discover anew that Jesus loves us “even to the end” (Jn 13:1), to the very end, without ever imposing.

The Heart of the Good Shepherd reaches out to us, above all to those who are most distant. There the needle of his compass inevitably points, there we see a particular “weakness” of his love, which desires to embrace all and lose none.

 

Contemplating the Heart of Christ, we are faced with the fundamental question of our priestly life: Where is my heart directed? It is a question we need to keep asking, daily, weekly… Where is my heart directed? Our ministry is often full of plans, projects and activities: from catechesis to liturgy, to works of charity, to pastoral and administrative commitments. Amid all these, we must still ask ourselves: What is my heart set on? I think of that beautiful prayer of the liturgy, “Ubi vera sunt gaudia”… Where is it directed, what is the treasure that it seeks? For as Jesus says: “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Mt 6:21). All of us have our weaknesses and sins. But let us go deeper: what is the root of our failings, those sins, the place we have hid that “treasure” that keeps us from the Lord?

The great riches of the Heart of Jesus are two: the Father and ourselves. His days were divided between prayer to the Father and encountering people. Not distance, but encounter. So too the heart of Christ’s priests knows only two directions: the Lord and his people. The heart of the priest is a heart pierced by the love of the Lord. For this reason, he no longer looks to himself, or should look to himself, but is instead turned towards God and his brothers and sisters. It is no longer “a fluttering heart”, allured by momentary whims, shunning disagreements and seeking petty satisfactions. Rather, it is a heart rooted firmly in the Lord, warmed by the Holy Spirit, open and available to our brothers and sisters. That is where our sins are resolved.

To help our hearts burn with the charity of Jesus the Good Shepherd, we can train ourselves to do three things suggested to us by today’s readings: seek outinclude and rejoice.

Seek out. The prophet Ezekiel reminds us that God himself goes out in search of his sheep (Ez 34:11, 16). As the Gospel says, he “goes out in search of the one who is lost” (Lk 15:4), without fear of the risks. Without delaying, he leaves the pasture and his regular workday. He doesn’t demand overtime. He does not put off the search. He does not think: “I have done enough for today; perhaps I’ll worry about it tomorrow”. Instead, he immediately sets to it; his heart is anxious until he finds that one lost sheep. Having found it, he forgets his weariness and puts the sheep on his shoulders, fully content. Sometimes he has to go and seek it out, to speak, to persuade; at other times he must remain in prayer before the tabernacle, struggling with the Lord for that sheep.

Such is a heart that seeks out. A heart that does not set aside times and spaces as private. Woe to those shepherds to privatize their ministry! It is not jealous of its legitimate quiet time, even that, and never demands that it be left alone. A shepherd after the heart of God does not protect his own comfort zone. He is not worried about protecting his good name, but will be slandered as Jesus was. Unafraid of criticism, he is disposed to take risks in seeking to imitate his Lord. “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you….” (Mt 5:11).

A shepherd after the heart of God has a heart sufficiently free to set aside his own concerns. He does not live by calculating his gains or how long he has worked: he is not an accountant of the Spirit, but a Good Samaritan who seeks out those in need. For the flock he is a shepherd, not an inspector, and he devotes himself to the mission not fifty or sixty percent, but with all he has. In seeking, he finds, and he finds because he takes risks. Unless a shepherd risks, he does not find. He does not stop when disappointed and he does not yield to weariness. Indeed, he is stubborn in doing good, anointed with the divine obstinacy that loses sight of no one. Not only does he keep his doors open, but he also goes to seek out those who no longer wish to enter them. Like every good Christian, and as an example for every Christian, he constantly goes out of himself. The epicentre of his heart is outside of himself. He is centred only in Jesus, not in himself. He is not attracted by his own “I”, but by the “Thou” of God and by the “we” of other men and women.

The second word: Include. Christ loves and knows his sheep. He gives his life for them, and no one is a stranger to him (cf. Jn10:11-14). His flock is his family and his life. He is not a boss to feared by his flock, but a shepherd who walks alongside them and calls them by name (cf. Jn 10:3-4). He wants to gather the sheep that are not yet of his fold (cf. Jn 10:16).

So it is also with the priest of Christ. He is anointed for his people, not to choose his own projects but to be close to the real men and women whom God has entrusted to him. No one is excluded from his heart, his prayers or his smile. With a father’s loving gaze and heart, he welcomes and includes everyone, and if at times he has to correct, it is to draw people closer. He stands apart from no one, but is always ready to dirty his hands. The Good Shepherd does not wear gloves. As a minister of the communion that he celebrates and lives, he does not await greetings and compliments from others, but is the first to reach out, rejecting gossip, judgements and malice. He listens patiently to the problems of his people and accompanies them, sowing God’s forgiveness with generous compassion. He does not scold those who wander off or lose their way, but is always ready to bring them back and to resolve difficulties and disagreements. He knows how to include.

Rejoice. God is “full of joy” (cf. Lk 15:5). His joy is born of forgiveness, of life risen and renewed, of prodigal children who breathe once more the sweet air of home. The joy of Jesus the Good Shepherd is not a joy for himself alone, but a joy for others and with others, the true joy of love. This is also the joy of the priest. He is changed by the mercy that he freely gives. In prayer he discovers God’s consolation and realizes that nothing is more powerful than his love. He thus experiences inner peace, and is happy to be a channel of mercy, to bring men and women closer to the Heart of God. Sadness for him is not the norm, but only a step along the way; harshness is foreign to him, because he is a shepherd after the meek Heart of God.

Dear priests, in the Eucharistic celebration we rediscover each day our identity as shepherds. In every Mass, may we truly make our own Christ’s words: “This is my body, which is given up for you”. This is the meaning of our life; with these words, in a real way we can daily renew the promises we made at our priestly ordination. I thank all of you for saying “yes”, and also for all those many times you secretly say “yes” each day, things that only the Lord knows about. I thank you for saying “yes” to giving your life in union with Jesus: for in this is found the pure source of our joy.

 

 

Photogallery


St. Peter's Square

Piazza San Pietro, Città del Vaticano, Vatican City State