» 03/28/2013, 00.00
Pope: priests must “put out into the deep” to the "outskirts", where there is suffering and be Jesus’ disciples
Celebrating the Chrism Mass, Francis again invites the Church to “go out”. " Feel, upon our shoulders and in our hearts, the burdens and the faces of our faithful people, our saints and martyrs of whom there are many in these times." " Self-help courses can be useful in life, but to live by going from one course to another, from one method to another, leads us to become pelagians and to minimize the power of grace "
(AsiaNews) - The priest must "go out to experience" his " o
experience our own anointing, its power and its redemptive efficacy: to the
"outskirts" where there is suffering, bloodshed, blindness that longs for
sight, and prisoners in thrall to many evil masters" and if "the so-called crisis of priestly identity
threatens us all and adds to the broader cultural crisis", but if "we can
resist its onslaught we will be able to put out in the name of the Lord and
cast our nets". "Go
out". Pope Francis is making this his motto and applying it to the entire Church. He spoke of it yesterday, in
his first general audience, and again today, during the Chrism Mass. "
that this anointing may spread to everyone, even to those "outskirts" where our
faithful people most look for it and most appreciate it. May our people sense
that we are the Lord's disciples; may they feel that their names are written
upon our priestly vestments and that we seek no other identity; and may they
receive through our words and deeds the oil of gladness which Jesus, the
Anointed One, came to bring us. "
The Chrism Mass is
the ritual that precedes the Easter Triduum - which begins in the afternoon
with the Mass "in Caena Domini" - during which the holy oils are
consecrated: chrism, used for baptism, confirmation and ordination to the
priesthood, the oil for catechumens, for those who are preparing for baptism,
and for the anointing of the sick, and he sees the priests with their bishop
celebrate and renew their priestly promises.
The Pope - who spoke from the ambo and not from the chair - commented on the
readings that " speak of God's "anointed ones": the
suffering Servant of Isaiah, King David and Jesus our Lord. All three have this
in common: the anointing that they receive is meant in turn to anoint God's
faithful people, whose servants they are; they are anointed for the poor, for
prisoners, for the oppressed
sacred robes of the High Priest are rich in symbolism. One such symbol is that
the names of the children of Israel were engraved on the onyx stones mounted on
the shoulder-pieces of the ephod, the ancestor of our present-day chasuble: six
on the stone of the right shoulder-piece and six on that of the left (cf. Ex
28:6-14). The names of the twelve tribes of Israel were also engraved on the
breastplate (cf. Es 28:21). This means that the priest celebrates by carrying
on his shoulders the people entrusted to his care and bearing their names
written in his heart. When we put on our simple chasuble, it might well make us
feel, upon our shoulders and in our hearts, the burdens and the faces of our
faithful people, our saints and martyrs of whom there are many in these times...".
the beauty of all these liturgical things, which is not so much about trappings
and fine fabrics than about the glory of our God resplendent in his people,
alive and strengthened, we turn to a consideration of activity, action. The
precious oil which anoints the head of Aaron does more than simply lend
fragrance to his person; it overflows down to "the edges". The Lord will say
this clearly: his anointing is meant for the poor, prisoners and the sick, for
those who are sorrowing and alone. The ointment is not intended just to make us
fragrant, much less to be kept in a jar, for then it would become rancid ... and
the heart bitter".
good priest can be recognized by the way his people are anointed. This is a
clear test. When our people are anointed with the oil of gladness, it is obvious:
for example, when they leave Mass looking as if they have heard good news. Our
people like to hear the Gospel preached with "unction", they like it when the
Gospel we preach touches their daily lives, when it runs down like the oil of
Aaron to the edges of reality, when it brings light to moments of extreme
darkness, to the "outskirts" where people of faith are most exposed to the
onslaught of those who want to tear down their faith. People thank us because
they feel that we have prayed over the realities of their everyday lives, their
troubles, their joys, their burdens and their hopes. And when they feel that
the fragrance of the Anointed One, of Christ, has come to them through us, they
feel encouraged to entrust to us everything they want to bring before the Lord:
"Pray for me, Father, because I have this problem", "Bless me", "Pray for me" -
these words are the sign that the anointing has flowed down to the edges of the
robe, for it has turned into prayer. The prayers of the people of God. When we
have this relationship with God and with his people, and grace passes through
us, then we are priests, mediators between God and men. What I want to
emphasize is that we need constantly to stir up God's grace and perceive in
every request, even those requests that are inconvenient and at times purely
material or downright banal - but only apparently so - the desire of our people
to be anointed with fragrant oil, since they know that we have it.".
need to "go out", he repeated, in order to experience our own anointing, its
power and its redemptive efficacy: to the "outskirts" where there is suffering,
bloodshed, blindness that longs for sight, and prisoners in thrall to many evil
masters. It is not in soul-searching or constant introspection that we
encounter the Lord: self-help courses can be useful in life, but to live by
going from one course to another, from one method to another, leads us to
become pelagians and to minimize the power of grace, which comes alive and
flourishes to the extent that we, in faith, go out and give ourselves and the
Gospel to others, giving what little ointment we have to those who have
nothing, nothing at all.".
who seldom goes out of himself, who anoints little - I won't say "not at all"
because, thank God, our people take our oil from us anyway - misses out on the
best of our people, on what can stir the depths of his priestly heart. Those
who do not go out of themselves, instead of being mediators, gradually become
intermediaries, managers. We know the difference: the intermediary, the
manager, "has already received his reward", and since he doesn't put his own
skin and his own heart on the line, he never hears a warm, heartfelt word of
thanks. This is precisely the reason why some priests grow dissatisfied, become
sad priests, lose heart and become in some sense collectors of antiques or
novelties - instead of being shepherds living with "the smell of the sheep",
shepherds in the midst of their flock, fishers of men".
Pope: A priest’s "joy", "anoints", is "incorruptible", "missionary" and guarded by poverty, obedience and loyalty
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