I Shall Call You Friends: Pope Benedict XVI Reflects On His Sixty Years of Priesthood
Friendship is a communion of thinking and willing
Sixty years on from the day of my priestly ordination, I hear once again deep within me these words of Jesus that were addressed to us new priests at the end of the ordination ceremony. I knew the Lord himself was speaking to me in a very personal way. He calls me his friend.
The actual Priestly Ordination announcement of Fr Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI
VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) - On the Feast of the Apostles and Martyrs, Peter and Paul, the Successor of Peter, Pope Benedict XVI, celebrated his sixtieth anniversary of his ordination to the Holy Priesthood. We present his extraordinary homily below. Please take the time to not only read it, but to reflect upon it in relationship to your own Baptismal vocation and specific response to the Lord's call.Every single one of us is called to follow the Lord.
Pope Benedict XVI is a profound theologian who communicates the deepest mysteries of the faith with the language of a man who is deeply in love with the Lord. He is a man of prayer and living faith; a model for each one of us to imitate no matter what our state in life or specific vocation. Just think of what his "Yes", his "FIAT" to the Lord's invitation has meant for the Church and the world into which she is sent to continue the redemptive mission of the High Priest, in whom every priest serves, Jesus Christ.
We invite our readers around the whole world to pray for this wonderful Pope, this priest of Jesus Christ. We also invite you to join with all of us in praying for all priests.
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Dear Brothers and Sisters,
"Non iam dicam servos, sed amicos" - "I no longer call you servants, but friends" (cf. Jn 15:15).
Sixty years on from the day of my priestly ordination, I hear once again deep within me these words of Jesus that were addressed to us new priests at the end of the ordination ceremony by the Archbishop, Cardinal Faulhaber, in his slightly frail yet firm voice. According to the liturgical practice of that time, these words conferred on the newly-ordained priests the authority to forgive sins. "No longer servants, but friends": at that moment I knew deep down that these words were no mere formality, nor were they simply a quotation from Scripture.
I knew that, at that moment, the Lord himself was speaking to me in a very personal way. In baptism and confirmation he had already drawn us close to him, he had already received us into God's family. But what was taking place now was something greater still. He calls me his friend. He welcomes me into the circle of those he had spoken to in the Upper Room, into the circle of those whom he knows in a very special way, and who thereby come to know him in a very special way.
He grants me the almost frightening faculty to do what only he, the Son of God, can legitimately say and do: I forgive you your sins. He wants me - with his authority - to be able to speak, in his name ("I" forgive), words that are not merely words, but an action, changing something at the deepest level of being. I know that behind these words lies his suffering for us and on account of us. I know that forgiveness comes at a price: in his Passion he went deep down into the sordid darkness of our sins. He went down into the night of our guilt, for only thus can it be transformed.
And by giving me authority to forgive sins, he lets me look down into the abyss of man, into the immensity of his suffering for us men, and this enables me to sense the immensity of his love. He confides in me: "No longer servants, but friends". He entrusts to me the words of consecration in the Eucharist. He trusts me to proclaim his word, to explain it aright and to bring it to the people of today. He entrusts himself to me. "You are no longer servants, but friends": these words bring great inner joy, but at the same time, they are so awe-inspiring that one can feel daunted as the decades go by amid so many experiences of one's own frailty and his inexhaustible goodness.
"No longer servants, but friends": this saying contains within itself the entire programme of a priestly life. What is friendship? Idem velle, idem nolle - wanting the same things, rejecting the same things: this was how it was expressed in antiquity. Friendship is a communion of thinking and willing. The Lord says the same thing to us most insistently: "I know my own and my own know me" (Jn 10:14). The Shepherd calls his own by name (cf. Jn 10:3). He knows me by name. I am not just some nameless being in the infinity of the universe.
He knows me personally. Do I know him? The friendship that he bestows upon me can only mean that I too try to know him better; that in the Scriptures, in the Sacraments, in prayer, in the communion of saints, in the people who come to me, sent by him, I try to come to know the Lord himself more and more. Friendship is not just about knowing someone, it is above all a communion of the will. It means that my will grows into ever greater conformity with his will. For his will is not something external and foreign to me, something to which I more or less willingly submit or else refuse to submit.
No, in friendship, my will grows together with his will, and his will becomes mine: this ...
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