In Fatima Pope says the world needs the witness of “faithful” priests
Welcomed by a huge crowd, the Pope went to the Chapel of Apparitions near the Sanctuary, where in prayer he presented to the “Immaculate Heart / the joys and hopes / as well as the problems and sufferings / of each one of these sons and daughters of yours / who are gathered in the Cova di Iria / or who are praying with us from afar.” In the prayer, Benedict XVI also mentioned that the Virgin’s crown in Fatima holds the bullet that wounded John Paul II on 13 May 1981.
After that, in the Church of the Most Holy Trinity, he celebrated vespers with the clergy, seminarians, religious and some pastoral workers. In his address, he reminded them of the importance of fidelity and witness. “To all of you who have given your life to Christ I wish to express this evening the Church’s appreciation and recognition. Thank you for your witness, often silent and certainly not easy; thank you for your fidelity to the Gospel and to the Church.”
“Let me open my heart,” he added, “and tell you that the greatest concern of every Christian, especially of every consecrated person or minister of the altar, must be fidelity, loyalty to one’s own vocation, as a disciple who wishes to follow the Lord. Faithfulness over time is the name of love, of a consistent, true and profound love for Christ the Priest. ‘Since Baptism is a true entry into the holiness of God through incorporation into Christ and the indwelling of his Spirit, it would be a contradiction to settle for a life of mediocrity, marked by a minimalistic ethic and a shallow religiosity’ (John Paul II, Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte, 31). In this Year for Priests, which is drawing to its close, may grace in abundance come down upon you that you may live joyfully your consecration and bear witness to your priestly fidelity grounded in the fidelity of Christ. This evidently supposes true intimacy with Christ in prayer, since it is the powerful and intense experience of the Lord’s love that brings priests and consecrated persons to respond to his love in way that is exclusive and spousal.”
Furthermore, “Fidelity to one’s vocation requires courage and trust, but the Lord also wishes that you join forces: that you be concerned for one another and support one another fraternally. Moments of common prayer and study, and sharing in the demands of the priestly life and work, are a necessary part of your life. It is a fine thing when you welcome one another into your homes with the peace of Christ in your hearts! It is important to assist one another with prayer, helpful advice and discernment! Be especially attentive to those situations where there is a certain weakening of priestly ideals or dedication to activities not fully consonant with what is proper for a minister of Jesus Christ. Then is the time to take a firm stand, with an attitude of warm fraternal love, as brother assisting his brother to ‘remain on his feet’.”
“How much we need this witness today! Many of our brothers and sisters live as if there were nothing beyond this life, and without concern for their eternal salvation. Men and women are called to know and love God, and the Church has the mission to assist them in this calling. We know well that God is the master of his gifts and that conversion is a grace. But we are responsible for proclaiming the faith, the whole faith, with all its demands. Dear friends, let us imitate the Curé of Ars who prayed to the Lord in the following words: ‘Grant me the conversion of my parish, and I accept to suffer all that you wish for the rest of my life’. And he did everything to pull people away from their own lukewarm attitude in order to lead them back to love.”