The Pope said the priest "does not preach a Christianity a la carte, according to his own tastes, preaching a Gospel according to his own preferred ideas, according to his own theological ideas.He does not exempt himself from proclaiming the whole will of God, also the uncomfortable will, also topics that personally do not please him so much."
Pope Benedict XVI, a priest of Jesus Christ, in prayer
VATICAN CITY, (Zenit.org) - The priesthood is not a profession, to be engaged in part-time, but a full-time and perpetual vocation, says Benedict XVI.
The Pope affirmed this on Thursday in a traditional meeting with priests of the Diocese of Rome held annually at the beginning of Lent, Vatican Radio reported.
"One is not a priest for part of the time; we are so with our whole soul, with our whole heart," he said.
The Pontiff added that "this being with Christ and being an ambassador of Christ, this being for others is a mission that penetrates our being and must penetrate ever more the totality of our being."
The Holy Father gave an in-depth lectio divina inspired by chapter 20 of the Acts of the Apostles, in which St. Paul speaks to the elders of Ephesus.
The Pope concentrated on the meaning of service and on the fidelity that must animate the presbyter.
Service, he pointed out, requires a humility that is not an exhibition of "false modesty," but rather love for the will of God, for proclaiming without "creating the idea that Christianity is an immense package of things to learn."
The priest, in fact, "does not preach a Christianity a la carte, according to his own tastes, preaching a Gospel according to his own preferred ideas, according to his own theological ideas," the Pontiff said.
He continued, "He does not exempt himself from proclaiming the whole will of God, also the uncomfortable will, also topics that personally do not please him so much."
The Holy Father underlined the theme of conversion, especially in regards to the season of Lent, understood above all as a change of thought and heart, with a focus not on things of the world and how they are presented, but on the presence of God in the world itself.
"Let us not lose the zeal, the joy of being called by the Lord," he exhorted.
"Let us renew our spiritual youth," Benedict XVI said, encouraging the priests to keep "the joy of being able to go with Christ to the end, of 'staying the course to the end' always with the enthusiasm of being called by Christ for this great service."
In the same way, he exhorted them to be "attentive also to our spiritual life, to our being with Christ."
The Pope affirmed, "To pray and to meditate on the Word of God is not time wasted" or taken away from the care of souls, but rather "it is a condition so that we can really be in contact with the Lord and thus speak firsthand of the Lord to others."
Despite the difficulties the Church is facing, there must be no loss of hope, he said.
The Pontiff stated, "Truth is stronger than lies; love is stronger than hatred, God is stronger than all the adverse forces."
"And with this joy," he added, "with this interior certainty let us start out [...] in the consolations of God and in the persecutions of the world."
In his greeting to the Holy Father, Cardinal Agostino Vallini, vicar general for the Diocese of Rome, mentioned the 60th anniversary of the Pontiff's priesthood, which will be celebrated on June 29.
The cardinal underlined the clergy's most appreciated priestly qualities of Benedict XVI: "humble and joyful fidelity, without cracks, to the Lord Jesus; total willingness to serve the Church where Providence has called him, to the formidable weight of the Supreme Pontificate; love of the Word of God and of the liturgy and the joy of living time according to the rhythm of the liturgical year; the exercise of intelligence and the passion to propose and defend the search of truth without compromises; gentleness of manner and the magnanimity of heart; serenity of a soul wholly given to Christ."
During the audience, the Pope also met with a Pakistani priest, Father Shahzad Niamat, in representation of the clergy, religious and seminarians of Pakistan present in Rome.
Father Niamat later reported to Fides that he "explained to the Pope the situation of Christians in Pakistan, where witnessing to the faith at times can lead to death."
He added, "The Holy Father was very concerned; he expressed to us his solidarity, his support and assured us of his prayers."
The priest said, "We also thanked the Holy Father for his words and recent appeals dedicated to Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, for Asia Bibi, for the law on blasphemy."
He noted that the Pontiff "communicated the hope that things might change and that in Pakistan full respect of human dignity and religious liberty will be exercised."
By Mary Rezac (CNA)
So, it's the 40th annual Vocations Awareness Week in the United States, and you're looking for the perfect ways to promote vocations to the consecrated life, right? LOS ANGELES, CA (CNA) - Well look no further. Here are three things that will help you promote vocations ... continue reading
By Kevin J. Jones (CNA/EWTN News)
Personal and student debt can slow down or prevent prospective seminarians and aspirants to religious orders from pursuing their vocations, but one organization with national scope aims to change that. St. Paul, MN (CNA/EWTN News) - "The Laboure Society's work is ... continue reading
By Abigail James (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)
Movie star, Mark Wahlberg has released a video letting the public know how important the priesthood is to him and his life and he will be praying for vocations. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - It's no secret that Mark Wahlberg is a devout Catholic and loves his ... continue reading
By Elise Harris (CNA/EWTN News)
Many things happen during World Youth Day. Young people from all over the world travel to meet the Pope, they meet peers with whom they can share their faith, many have personal conversions and many even discover their vocations. Krakow, Poland (CNA/EWTN News) - In ... continue reading
By Diego Lopez Marina (CNA/EWTN News)
Watch them sing, and you might be convinced of it. Cali, Colombia (CNA/EWTN News) - The Eucharistic Communicators of the Heavenly Father are a community of nuns from Colombia who have a great passion for music and an intense desire to announce God through the gifts he ... continue reading
By (CNA/EWTN News)
There is a young and vital presence of religious sisters, novices and postulants in U.S. Catholic life, a new survey has found. Washington D.C. (CNA/EWTN News) - The Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious has released its latest survey of its 120 member ... continue reading
By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)
Dominican Fathers Francis Orozco and Thomas Schaefgen were inspired to make a 478-mile pilgrimage from New Orleans to Memphis, Tenn. entirely on foot and without a single dollar between them. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Fathers Francis Orozco, of the Catholic ... continue reading
By Ann Schneible (CNA/EWTN News)
As Pope Francis' year dedicated to consecrated life comes to a close, one nun shared her thoughts on the how her religious garb serves as a "visible sign" that God exists and loves every person. Rome, Italy (CNA/EWTN News) - Though the official Year for Consecrated ... continue reading
By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)
Benedictine nuns in Missouri recently released their latest album <i>Adoration at Ephesus</i> - and it is amazing! LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Mother Cecilia, the prioress of the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, told <a ... continue reading
By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)
Bishop Mark O'Toole, the Bishop of Plymouth, has called for a prayer of priestly vocations in a pastoral letter, which was read in all parishes across the diocese earlier this month. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The letter was simple and read: "To encourage an ... continue reading