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On Priestly Sanctification

6/1/2005 - 6:00 AM PST

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"Nothing More Beautiful Than to Be Conquered by Christ"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 1, 2005 (Zenit) - Here is the document published by the Congregation for Clergy, for the World Day of Prayer for Sanctification of Priests, to be observed this Friday.

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Eucharist, Priesthood and Ecclesial Communion

1. The Legacy of John Paul II and the Exhortation of Benedict XVI

The church events which we have lived through during the month of April of this Year of the Eucharistic (2005) have been an unrepeatable grace in our Christian and priestly lives. Pope John Paul II has left us a priestly inheritance with his Holy Thursday letter to priests of 14 March 2005, which is a synthesis of his previous documents on priesthood. Pope Benedict XVI has called us to live this Year of the Eucharist rediscovering the friendship of Christ and making it the key of our priestly existence (Discourse to the Parish Priests of Rome, 13 May 2005).

The exhortations of John Paul II and Benedict XVI stand as a prolongation of the invitation of Christ himself "stay in my love you are my friends" (John 15:9-14). This invitation has a relational sense to live in harmony with the mind of Christ, heart to heart, as St. Paul said: "have the same mind of Christ" (Philippians 2:5).

Our priestly "existence" is called to be: a grateful existence, giving, saving, memorable, consecrated, held out to Christ, Eucharistic at the school of Mary (cf. John Paul II, Holy Thursday Letter 2005).

Thus our priestly existence profoundly related to Christ, is apprehended through the means of an experience of lived faith: "to stand before the Eucharistic Jesus, to profit in a certain sense, from our 'solitudes' to fill up with this Presence, means to give to our consecration all the warmth of the intimacy with Christ, from which our life takes joy and meaning" (Holy Thursday Letter 2005, n. 6).

The secret or the key of priestly life is the passionate love of Christ which brings with it Christ's passionate announcement "its secret lies in the 'passion' which he lives through Christ. Saint Paul says 'for me to live is Christ' (Philippians 1:21)" (Holy Thursday Letter 2005, n. 7).

The priest discovers and lives profoundly his identity when he decides to place nothing before the love of Christ and to make Him the center of his life. We are called to "always return again to the root of our priesthood. This root, as we well know is a single thing, Our Lord Jesus Christ (Benedict XVI, Discourse of 13 May 2005).

This experience of a relationship with Christ means to enter in his friendship, to the point of not being able to exclude Him, never to feel alone, not to doubt his love. "The Lord calls us friends, he makes us his friends, he gives himself to us, he gives himself to us in his body in the Holy Eucharist, he entrusts us to his Church. And thus we must truly be his friends, to have with him only one desire, to want that which He wants and not to want that which He does not want. Jesus himself says: 'you are my friends if you do that which I command' (John 15:14)" (Benedict XVI, Discourse of 13 May 2005).

2. Priesthood and the Holy Eucharist

John Paul II in the encyclical "Ecclesiae de Eucharistia" and the Apostolic Exhortation "Mane Nobiscum Domine" lays out for us certain lines of "Eucharistic spirituality" for all vocations. In re-reading these texts we feel profoundly touched, especially if we have had this experience before the Tabernacle. Christ continues to speak today, from heart to heart.

The words of Eucharistic consecration which mold and transform us are a "formula of life"; through them we are "involved in this spiritual movement" of transformation in Christ (Holy Thursday Letter, n. 1 & 3).

Our Christian and priestly spirituality is relational or of friendship, it is a giving in union with the charity of the Good Shepherd, it is transforming so that it makes us a clear sign of Jesus himself, it is Marian in that it approaches the school of Mary, it is of ecclesial communion, it is ministerial or of service, it is missionary. It is nearly always an attitude of thanksgiving "Eucharistic," of one who feels loved by the Lord and as a consequence, wants to love all and wants to be loved by all.

In this sense, all of our life is centered on the Eucharist, as the Paschal Mystery, which is announced, celebrated, lived and communicated to the others. Through this "if the Eucharist is the center and summit of the life of the Church, likewise it is the center of priestly ministry ("Ecclesiae de Eucharistia," n. 31).

The consequence of a relational life on our part is very logical, that as all the faithful, we are called to be: "souls enamored of him, ready to wait patiently to hear his voice and, as it were, to sense the beating of his ...

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