Sunday, September 03, 2006

More Teachings From Papa


Here is the Pope's message to the priests of the diocese of Albano. I chose salient points but I highly recommend reading the entire message. It is rich with the Holy Father's teachings.

This comes to you via the great help of Teresa Benedetta at Ratzinger Forum and hat tip to Amy Welborn.

On priestly concerns

What should the Church do in this time of so many problems, so many challenges, but also so many joys, for the universal Church? So many things take place every day and I am not up capable of responding to all of it. But I do my part, I do what I can. I try to determine the priorities. And I am happy that I have the help of so any good co-workers. I can say here and now: I see every day the great work that the Secretariat of State does under your wise guidance.

It is only with this network of collaboration, where I put my humble capacities into a greater totality, am I able to - and dare - to move ahead. Naturally, for a parish priest who is alone, I see that you, Father Zane, indeed have so many concerns. And that, as you put it, one can only plug away, apply some first aid, but always aware that so much more needs to be done. I would say that the first requirement for all of us is to let the Lord take care of the part we cannot do.

Today we heard in the Gospel the parable of the faithful servant (Mt 24.42-51). This servant, the Lord tells us, gives food to others at the appropriate time. He does not do everything all at once, because he is wise and prudent and knows how to distribute what is necessary at different times. He does so humbly, confident of his master's trust.

So also we must do what we can to be wise and prudent and to have trust in the goodness of our Master, of the Lord, because ultimately, it is He who guides His Church. We assert ourselves with the small gifts we have and do what we can, above all, those duties that are always necessary: the Sacraments, announcing the Gospel, showing our charity and love.

As for the interior life that you referred to, it is necessary to our service as priests. The time which we reserve for prayer is not time taken away form our pastoral responsibilities but it is pastoral 'work' in itself to be able to pray for others.

On priestly service

Baptism gives us new life in the sense that beyond our biological life, we need
the gift of a sense of life which is stronger than death. The gift of biological life can be justified only if we can add to it a sense of stabllity, of a future which, despite crises which will come - and which we cannot know beforehand - will give value to our life, make life worth living, make us value the very fact that we were created.

Therefore I think that in preparing for this Sacrament or talking to parents who have doubts about Baptism, we have a missionary situation. We are transmitting the Christian message. We interpret for them the reality that begins with Baptism.

Then there is Confirmation, to be prepared for, at that age when individuals start to make decisions for themselves, even with regard to matters of faith. Certainly, we should not transform Confirmation into a kind of 'pelagianism', almost as if one becomes Catholic all by himself, rather, that confirmation in our faith is is our response to the gift of faith.

Then there is the Eucharist, which is Christ's permanent presence in the daily celebration of the Holy Mass. And it is most important, as I said earlier, for the priest, for his life as a priest, because it is the real presence of the Lord.

Matrimony, too, presents itself as a great missionary occasion, because today, thank God, many who do not usually go to church still want to be married in church. It is an occasion to bring young people face to face with the reality of a Christian marriage, of a sacramental marriage, that is also a great responsibility.

We see the importance of this question of responsible marriage in the annulment processes but mostly in the problem of divorced persons who remarry and wish to take Communion and who do not understand why that is not possible. Probably they did not understand, at the moment they first said "Yes, I do" before the Lord, what their "yes" really meant. It is entering into Christ's trust, therefore into the Sacrament which is the Church and the sacrament of matrimony.

Therefore preparing your parishioners for marriage is an occasion of great importance, of missionary significance, an occasion to announce once more in the sacrament of matrimony the sacrament of Christ Himself, to make the couple understand that they are vowing faithfulness, and if they understand this, then they will see the problem with remarried divorced Catholics [wanting Communion].

On Ars Celebrandi

Ars celebrandi! Even in this, I would say there are many dimensions. The first is that celebration (of the liturgy) is prayer, a dialog with God - God with us, and we in God.

Therefore, the first requirement for a good celebration is that the priest enters truly into this dialog. Announcing the Word, he must feel himself in colloquy with God. He is both a listener of the Word as well as a proclaimer of the Word, in the sense that he makes himself an instrument of the Lord and seeks to understand the word of God which he must then convey to his people.

He is in a dialog with God, because the texts of the Holy Mass are not theatrical lines or some such - they are prayers, thanks to which, together with the congregation, I as priest talk to God. Therefore to enter into this colloquy is important.

... In other words, ars celebrandi does not invite participation in some kind of theater, of spectacle, but to an interiorness which can be felt, and becomes evident and acceptable to the faithful in attendance. Only if they see that it is not an exterior art, not spectator art - we are not showmen! - but the expression of the direction our hearts take, which will attract their hearts as well, only then will Liturgy become beautiful, because it becomes a communion of everyone present with the Lord.

On married couples

We should learn to accept, whether we are priests or married persons, the need to endure the crisis of change, of the other, the crisis of when it seems one can no longer stay together or proceed as before.

Married couples should learn to learn together how to move ahead, if only for the love of their children, and in so doing, to get to know each other anew, love each other anew with a love that is much more profound and much more genuine. Thus love truly matures, through a long course, beset with suffering.

I think we priests can learn from married couples, from their suffering and sacrifice. Often we think that only celibacy is sacrifice. But in getting to learn the sacrifices of
married persons - think of raising children, the problems that arise from that, the fears, the suffering, the ailments, rebelliousness, or just think of the first years of having children, with sleepless nights attending to crying babies - there is much we can learn from their sacrifices, and our own sacrifices.

On youth

It must be suggested to our youth that they can integrate themselves into the life of the diocese, not only in parish work but in other contexts which ultimately point them back to their parishes. One must favor all initiatives in this direction.

I think that the concept and experience of volunteer work is very important. Young people should not be left merely to indulging their diversions, but they should be given tasks in which they see that they are needed, in which they have a sense of doing something good for others.

If they feel this impulse to do something good for humanity, for someone, for a group, then they will have a reason to involve themselves and will even find their own positive way of getting involved, their own expression of the Christian ethic.

It is very important that they find tasks that need their involvement, that enable them to render positive service inspired by Christ's love, so that they themselves will look for the sources they can draw on to find the strength and the commitment for these services.

Another worthwhile experience for them are prayer groups, in which they learn to listen to the Word of God, to learn the Word of God precisely in their situation as young people, and to enter into contact with God.

This means they should learn to take part in the common forms of prayer, the Liturgy, which initially may seem quite inaccessible to them. It would be useful to have classes in liturgy, which they can attend.

Read the entire message here.


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