Pope: Love of Christ in celibacy, source of communion and mission for families
by Bernardo Cervellera
Benedict XVI, on a pastoral visit to Milan, meets priests, deacons and consecrated in the Cathedral, within the context of the VII World Meeting of Families. Among the saints “who have devoted their energies to the service of the Gospel” he mentions two PIME missionaries. Personal love of Jesus Christ, also cultivated with liturgical prayer, is the source of the “zeal” and the unity of life of the priest.
Milan (AsiaNews) – “The witness of consecrated persons” show “the world the beauty of the gift to Christ and the Church” and renews “Christian families according to the plan of God, because they are places of grace and holiness, fertile ground for vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life”, said Benedict XVI in his meditation for the celebration of Daytime prayer in Milan Cathedral with priests, deacons and religious of the archdiocese of Milan, celebrated today at 10.
After the first three days of the World Meeting of Families, which focused on rediscovering the “normal” family, consisting of husband, wife and children, the Pope dedicated his address to the consecrated vocation, emphasizing words like “celibacy”, “celibate”, “virginity “,” virgin “,” total gifting” repeated dozens of times in his short speech.
The pontiff recalled the personalities of the universal Church, born and raised in the Ambrosian diocese “such as St. Ambrose and St. Charles, and some popes of uncommon stature”, as Pius XI and Paul VI. He cited a host of “Ambrosian priests, religious men and women who have devoted their energies to the service of the Gospel, sometimes even to the supreme sacrifice of their life.” Among them he listed the blessed priests Luigi Talamoni, Luigi Biraghi, Carlo Gnocchi, Serafino Morazzone; Luigi Monti and teh religious women Maria Anna Sala and Enrichetta Alfieri. He also cited the blessed Giovanni Mazzucconi, and Clemente Vismara, two PIME priests (Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions), the first a martyr in Papua New Guinea, the second a missionary in Burma (now Myanmar).
“Through their joint intercession – added the Pope – we ask the Giver of all gifts to render ever more fruitful the ministry of priests, to strengthen the witness of consecrated persons, to show the world the beauty of the gift to Christ and the Church, and to renew the Christian families according to the plan of God, so that they are places of grace and holiness, fertile ground for vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life”.
The Pope seemed to suggest that the presence of consecrated persons is essential in supporting the mission of the families. But it is particularly dear to Benedict XVI to highlight the origin of “apostolic zeal” and pastoral commitment and to do so he took the example of St. Ambrose: “He was drawn above all to Our Lord Jesus, the central argument of his reflections and preaching, and above all the end point of a vibrant and confident love. Without doubt, the love of Jesus is for all Christians, but it acquires a special meaning for the celibate priest and those who responded to the call to consecrated life: always and only, Christ is the source and model to repeat each day “yes” to the will of God. ”
And again: “If Christ, to build His Church, places himself in the hands of the priest, the priest in turn must rely on Him completely: love for the Lord Jesus is the soul and the reason for the priestly ministry, as was the premise upon which He assigned Peter the mission of feed his flock, “Simon … do you love me more than these? … Feed my lambs (John 21:15).” The Second Vatican Council recalled “priests, then, can achieve this coordination and unity of life by joining themselves with Christ to acknowledge the will of the Father. For them this means a complete gift of themselves to the flock committed to them. Hence, as they fulfill the role of the Good Shepherd, in the very exercise of their pastoral charity they will discover a bond of priestly perfection which draws their life and activity to unity and coordination”(Decree Presbyterorum Ordinis, 14).”
Personal love for Jesus Christ is the true equilibrium: “There is no opposition between the good of the person of the priest and his mission; indeed pastoral charity is the unifying element of life starting from a more intimate relationship with Christ in prayer to experience the total gift of self for the flock, so that the people of God grow in communion with God and is a manifestation of the communion of the Holy Trinity. Every action, in fact, aims to bring the faithful into union with the Lord and nourish ecclesial communion for the salvation of the world. ”
To cultivate love of Christ, the Pope also suggests liturgical prayer, in which “our lips, our hearts and our minds … are interpreters of the needs and aspirations of all humanity.”
“Daily prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours – he added – is an essential task of the ordained ministry in the Church. Even through the Divine Office, which prolongs the central mystery of the Eucharist throughout the day, priests are especially united to the Lord Jesus, living and active in time. ”
After a brief stop at the tomb of St. Charles Borromeo, kept in the “Scurolo” of the Cathedral (crypt), Benedict XVI went to the San Siro stadium for a meeting with the young boys and girls of the diocese who received the sacrament of Confirmation this year.