By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
4/17/2014 (1 year ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
If a priest wants to overcome moments of sadness, exhaustion and boredom, in addition to discovering his true identity, he must head for the exit sign, going outside himself to be with God and his people, Pope Francis said during the Chrism Mass at St. Peter's Basilica.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - A priest must also be a dutiful servant who listens to people's needs. He must build a church whose doors are wide open, offering refuge for sinners, a home for the homeless, comfort for the sick and God's word and joy for the young, the pope added.
The pope, presiding over the first of two Holy Thursday liturgies, blessed the oils that will be used in the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, ordination and the anointing of the sick. Deacons carried the sacramental oils in large silver urns to the main altar to be blessed by the Pope.
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Surrounded by more than 1,500 priests, bishops and cardinals, Pope Francis led them in a renewal of their priestly vows in a lengthier-than-usual homily.
The pope focused on the meaning of being anointed through ordination, emphasizing that Holy Thursday was the day Jesus shared his priesthood with the Apostles by anointing them with "the oil of gladness.
"Priestly joy is a priceless treasure, not only for the priest himself but for the entire faithful people of God," the Pope said.
While "in that littleness we find our joy," he said, being "little" without God spells danger.
"No one is more 'little' than a priest left to his own devices."
Priestly joy must be rooted in God's love where it can find protection from evil in prayer to Mary, he said.
Otherwise a priest risks becoming "the poorest of men unless Jesus enriches him by his poverty, the most useless of servants unless Jesus calls him his friend, the most ignorant of men unless Jesus patiently teaches him as he did Peter, the frailest of Christians", unless Jesus gives him strength in the midst of his flock, he said.
Self-denial, forsaking earthly happiness and giving oneself to others mean the priest "has to seek his joy from the Lord and from God's faithful people. He doesn't need to try to create it for himself."
Nor should the priest create his own identity because "there is no identity - and consequently joy of life - without an active and unwavering sense of belonging to God's faithful people," he said.
"The priest who tries to find his priestly identity by soul-searching and introspection may well encounter nothing more than 'exit' signs, signs that say: Exit from yourself, exit to seek God in adoration, go out and give your people what was entrusted to you."
The People of God "will make you feel and taste who you are," he said.
They will also be able "to protect you, to embrace you and to help you open your heart to find renewed joy" during those moments a priest finds himself feeling isolated, gloomy, listless and bored, "which at times overcome us in our priestly life and which I too have experienced," the Pope said.
With his infinite compassion "for all the little ones and the outcasts of this earth, wearied and oppressed like sheep without a shepherd", Jesus calls people to his ministry, so that he can be present and work "in the person of his priests, for the good of his people."
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