Priestly training “is not resolved by some cultural upgrading or some local initiative,” but is first and foremost “placing oneself in the presence of the Lord”, and letting oneself be moulded by God who, like a potter, puts his creature on the wheel and moulds him.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis on Saturday received participants of the International Conference on the Ratio Fundamentalis Institutionis Sacerdotalis promoted by the Congregation for Clergy.
In his address, the pontiff said that priestly training “is not resolved by some cultural upgrading or some local initiative,” but is first and foremost by “placing oneself in the presence of the Lord”, and letting oneself be moulded by God who, like a potter, puts his creature on the wheel and moulds him.
Priestly training, the pope explained, "depends first of all on God's actions in our lives and not on our own activities. This work requires courage in order to let oneself be moulded by the Lord, so that he can transform our heart and our lives. This points to the biblical image of the clay in the potter’s hands (cf. Jer 18: 1-10). "
God, "like a patient potter, takes care of his creature, puts the clay on the wheel, shapes it, moulds it, and so gives it a form. If he realises that the pot is no good, the God of mercy then throws it back into the clay and, with a Father's tenderness, starts to mould it again.”
To be moulded, however, one must not yield to rigid outlines or "the presumption that one has already arrived. [. . .] If we do not let the Lord train us every day, we become dull priests, dragging ourselves in the ministry by inertia, without neither enthusiasm for the Gospel, nor passion for the People of God."
At the same time, "each of us priests is called to cooperate with the divine Potter! We are not only clay, but also the Potter's helpers, co-workers with his grace. During the priestly training, the initial and the permanent one, and both are important, we can recognise at least three main players, who are also found in the ‘potter’s workshop'.”
The first one is the priest himself. "In order to be a player in one’s own training, the seminarian or priest must say yes and no: More than the sound of human ambitions, he will prefer silence and prayer; more than the trust in his own deeds, he will be able to abandon himself to the potter and to his providential creativity; rather be guided by pre-established outlines, he will be led by a healthy uneasiness of the heart, so as to turn his incompleteness towards the joy of meeting with God and his brothers. More than isolation, he will seek friendship with his brothers in the priesthood and with his own people, knowing that his vocation was born out of a meeting of love, that with Jesus and the People of God."
Secondly, teachers and bishops are indispensable, namely "Those who, in the Church, are called to be the first educators of priestly life."
The third player is the People of God. "When we go out to the People of God, we let ourselves be moulded by their expectations, touching their wounds, and we realise that the Lord can transform our lives. If the Shepherd is entrusted with a portion of people, it is also true that the priest is entrusted to the people."
Finally, every priest, the pope said, is called to ask himself "What priest do I want to be? A bourgeois priest," quiet and in a nice position, or a missionary disciple whose heart is burning for the Master and the People of God? One who rests on his own well-being or a disciple on the way? Someone aloof who prefers a quiet life or a prophet who awakens God's desire in the heart of man?"