Priestly Life in Christ
There are certain conditions to ensure growing harmony in priestly life with Christ. I would like to emphasize three of these: aspiration to work with Jesus in spreading the Kingdom of God, pastoral duty freely given and the attitude of service.
First, in the call to the priestly ministry we meet Jesus and are drawn to him, struck by his words, his actions, and his person. It is to have the grace to distinguish his voice from so many other voices…It is like being touched by the radiance of Goodness and Love that shines from him, feeling enfolded and involved to the point of wishing to stay with him…and to proclaim the Gospel to the world. God the Father sent the Eternal Son into the world to bring about his plan of salvation. Jesus Christ established the Church so that it might extend in time the benefits of redemption. The vocation of priests is rooted in the Father’s action realized in Christ, through the Holy Spirit. Therefore the Gospel minister is the one who lets himself be seized by Christ, who knows how to “stay” with him who enters into harmony, into an intimate friendship with him, so that all is done…according to his will of love, with great interior freedom and profound joy in the heart.
In the second place, we are called to be administrators of the Mysteries of God…One should never forget that one comes into the priesthood through the Sacrament of Orders and this means exactly opening oneself to God’s action by choosing daily to give oneself up for God and for one’s brethren…The Lord’s call to the ministry is not the fruit of special merit by a gift to be received and responded to by dedication oneself not to one’s own plan but to God’s, in a generous and disinterested way, for he sends us out according to his will, even if this might not correspond to our idea of self-fulfillment. To love with him who loved us first and gave all of himself, and to be open to allow oneself to become part of that act of full and total love for the Father and for every human being, fulfilled on Calvary. We must never forget—as priests—that the only legitimate ascent to the ministry of the pastor is not that of success, but of the cross.
In this logic, being a priest means being a servant also through an exemplary life…Priests are stewards of the means of salvation, of the sacraments, especially the Eucharist and Reconciliation, not to dispense them according to their own will, but as humble servants for the good of the People of God. It is a life profoundly marked by this service: by care for the flock, by faithful celebration of the liturgy, and by ready concern for all brothers and sisters, especially for the poorest and most needy. In practicing this “pastoral charity” modeled on Christ and with Christ, wherever the Lord may call you, every priest can completely fulfill himself and his vocation.