Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Excerpts from Pope Benedict's Address to Roman Seminarians on 1 Feb 2008

Good Shepherd Sunday has given me an opportunity to reflect and renew my joy of being called and to stand in awe of what the Lord has done and is doing in my life and in the life of my brothers. I think it is easy to become unenthusiastic about this sublime vocation the Lord has bestowed on us when we stop singing the Lord's praises for what He has done for each of us. So let us spur each other on in continuosly singing our chorus of praises!

I found this address of our Holy Father to Roman seminarians pretty meaningful for myself and I thought that I might share it with all of you who are aspiring members of Kampung Punggol. Let us grow in gratitude for the gift of our vocation and to celebrate the abundance of life we experience through our response.


"Dear seminarians, it is precisely because the gift of being adoptive sons of God had illuminated your lives that you were stirred by the desire to make others share in it too. This is why you are here, to develop your filial vocation and prepare yourselves for your future mission as apostles of Christ. It concerns a unified growth, that, while permitting you to savour the joy of life with God the Father, it makes you feel so much more the urgent need to become messengers of the Gospel of his Son Jesus. It is the Holy Spirit who makes you attentive to this profound reality and makes you love it. All this cannot fail to kindle immense trust in you, for the gift you have received is amazing, it fills you with wonder and profound joy."

"Dear parents, you are probably the most surprised of all at what is happening in your sons. You probably imagined a different career for them than the mission for which they are now preparing.

Who knows how often you find yourselves thinking about them: you think back to when they were children, then boys; to the times when they showed the first signs of their vocation or, in some cases on the contrary, to the years in which your son's life seemed remote from the Church. What happened? What meetings influenced their decisions? What inner enlightenment guided their footsteps? How could they then give up even promising prospects of life in order to choose to enter the Seminary? Let us look to Mary! The Gospel gives us to understand that she also asked herself many questions about her Son Jesus and pondered on him at length (cf. Lk 2: 19, 51).

It is inevitable that in a certain manner, the vocations of children become the vocations of their parents too. In seeking to understand your children and following them on their way, you too, dear fathers and dear mothers, very often find yourselves involved in a journey in which your faith is strengthened and renewed. You find yourselves sharing in the marvellous adventure of your sons.
Indeed, even though it may seem that the priest's life does not attract most people's interest, it is in fact the most interesting and necessary adventure for the world, the adventure of showing, of making present, the fullness of life to which we all aspire. It is a very demanding adventure; and it could not be otherwise since the priest is called to imitate Jesus, who "came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Mt 20: 28)."

"Dear seminarians, these years of formation constitute an important time in which to prepare yourselves for the exalting mission to which the Lord calls you. Allow me to underline two aspects that mark your current experience. First of all, your seminary years involve a certain detachment from ordinary life, a certain "wilderness", so that the Lord can speak to your heart (cf. Hos 2: 14). Indeed, his voice is not loud but rather subdued, it is "a still small voice" (I Kgs 19: 12). Thus, if the Lord's voice is to be heard, an atmosphere of silence is essential. For this reason the Seminary offers space and times for daily prayer; it takes great care of the liturgy, meditation on the Word of God and Eucharistic adoration. At the same time, it demands that you devote long hours to study: in praying and studying you can build within yourselves the man of God whom you must be and whom people expect a priest to be.

Then there is a second aspect of your life: during your seminary years, you live together; your formation for the priesthood also involves this community aspect which is of great importance. In following Jesus, the Apostles were formed together. Your communion is not limited to the present time but also concerns the future: the pastoral action that awaits you must see you joining forces, as though in one body, in one ordo, that of priests who, together with the Bishop, care for the Christian community. May you love this "family life" which is an anticipation for you of that "sacramental brotherhood" (Presbyterorum Ordinis, n. 8) which must characterize every diocesan priest."

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