Yesterday afternoon, the Holy Father visited Rome's Major Pontifical Seminary for the occasion of the feast of its patroness, Our Lady of Trust. After presiding at Vespers, the Holy Father expressed his joy at having the opportunity, as Bishop of Rome, to visit "his seminary".
"Because the gift of being adoptive children of God has illuminated your lives", the Pope told the seminarians, "you have felt the desire to share this with others. That is why you are here, to develop your filial vocation and prepare yourselves for your future mission as apostles of Christ. ... Savouring the joy of life with God the Father means that you feel the ever more urgent need to become messengers of the Gospel of His Son, Jesus".
"All this cannot but induce great trust, because the gift received is amazing, it fills us with wonder and sates us with intimate joy. And thus you are able to understand the role Mary has in your lives. ... Just as 'the Son was born of woman', of Mary Mother of God, the fact that you are children of God means you have her as mother".
The Pope then addressed the parents of the future priests, saying "you are probably the most surprised of all about what has happened and is happening to your children. You had perhaps imagined for them a mission different from the one for which they are now preparing. ... Let us look to Mary. The Gospel helps us to understand that she too asked herself many question about her Son Jesus, and reflected on Him for a long time.
"It is inevitable that the vocation of children in some way also becomes the vocation of the parents", he added. "You have found yourselves participating in your sons' marvellous adventure. Indeed, although it may appear that a priest's life does not attract the interest of the majority of people, in reality it is the most interesting of adventures and the most necessary for the world: the adventure of demonstrating and realising the fullness of life to which everyone aspires. It is a very demanding adventure and could not be otherwise because a priest is called to imitate Jesus".
The Holy Father then went on to refer to two aspects that characterise the lives of seminarians. In the first place, that of listening to the voice of the Lord which, he said, "requires an atmosphere of silence. For this reason the seminary offers time and space to daily prayer; it pays great attention to liturgy, to meditation on the Word of God and to Eucharistic adoration. At the same time, it asks you to dedicate long hours to study: by praying and studying, you can create within yourselves the man of God that you must become and that people expect a priest to be".
The Pope went on: "There is also another aspect to your lives: ... the community aspect, which is of great importance. ... Your communion is not limited to the present but also concerns the future. The pastoral activity that awaits you must see you acting together united in a single body, an 'ordo' of priests who, with the bishop, watch over the Christian community".
"All this serves as a reminder that God calls you to be saints, and that sanctity is the secret of real success in your priestly ministry. From this moment on, sanctity must be the final goal of all your choices and decisions. Entrust this desire and this daily commitment to Mary, Mother of Trust".
"Follow your journey at the seminary with your hearts open to truth, to transparency, and to dialogue with those who guide you, and this will enable you to respond simply and humbly to the One Who calls you, freeing yourselves from the risk of pursuing a personal project of your own".