VIS REPORTS: PRIESTLY LIFE REQUIRES EVER-INCREASING THIRST FOR SANCTITY
VATICAN CITY, 20 JAN 2012 (VIS) - This morning in the Clementine Hall the Holy Father received seventy professors and students of the diocesan seminary of Rome, the "Almo Collegio Capranica". Tomorrow the 555 year-old college will be celebrating the feast of its patroness St Agnes, and it was on that third-century virgin and martyr that the Holy Father focused his remarks. (IMAGE SOURCE : RADIO VATICANA)
"For St. Agnes martyrdom meant agreeing to spend her young life, generously and freely, completely and without reserve, so that the Gospel could be announced as the truth and beauty which illuminates existence. ... In martyrdom Agnes also confirmed the other decisive element of her life: her virginity for Christ and the Church. Her path to the compete gift of self in martyrdom was, in fact, prepared by her informed, free and mature choice of virginity, testimony of her desire to belong entirely to Christ. ... While still young Agnes had learned that being a disciple of the Lord means loving Him, even at the cost of one's life".
"Formation for the priesthood likewise requires integrity, maturity, asceticism, constancy and heroic fidelity in all aspects. All this must be founded upon a solid spiritual life animated by an intense relationship with God, as individuals and in the community, with a particular care for liturgical celebrations and frequent recourse to the Sacraments. Priestly life requires an ever-increasing thirst for sanctity, a clear 'sensus Ecclesiae' and an openness to fraternity without exclusion or bias", said the Holy Father.
"Part of a priest's journey of sanctity is his decision to develop, with God's help, his own intellect, his own commitment: an authentic and solid personal culture which is the fruit of constant and impassioned study. Faith has an indispensable rational and intellectual element. ... Those who also achieve maturity in this global cultural formation will be more effective educators and animators of that worship 'in spirit and in truth' about which Jesus spoke to the woman of Samaria. Such worship ... must become ... a process whereby man himself, as a being gifted with reason, becomes worship and glorification of the living God".
"Always maintain a profound sense of the history and traditions of the Church", the Pope told his audience. "Here you have the opportunity to open yourselves to an international horizon. ... Learn to understand the situations of the various countries and Churches of the world. ... Ready yourselves to approach all the men and women you will meet, ensuring that no culture is a barrier to the Word of life, which you must announce even with your lives".
"The Church expects a lot from young priests in the work of evangelisation and new evangelisation. I encourage you in your daily efforts that, rooted in the beauty of authentic tradition and profoundly united to Christ, you may bring Him into your communities with truth and joy".
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HOLY FATHER MEETS WITH MEMBERS OF NEO-CATECHUMENAL WAY
VATICAN CITY, 20 JAN 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience more than 7,000 members of the Neo-Catechumenal Way. During the course of the ceremony, the Holy Father sent out seventeen new "ad gentes" missions of the Way: twelve to Europe, four to America and one to Africa. Each mission is made up of three or four large families, members of the Neo-Catechumenal Way who, accompanied by a priest, go to live in an area where Christian practise has lapsed or where the Gospel has never been announced.
Extracts from the Holy Father's address to the group are given below.
"Over these decades of life of the Way, your firm commitment has been to proclaim the Gospel of the risen Christ, ... often abandoning personal and material security. ... Bringing Christ to mankind and mankind to Christ is what animates all evangelising work. You achieve this on a path which helps those who have already been baptised to rediscover the beauty of the life of faith, the joy of being Christian. ... We know that this is not always easy. Sometimes you find yourselves in places in which a first announcement of the Gospel is needed: the 'missio ad gentes'. At other times you are present in areas which, though they have known Christ, have become indifferent to the faith, areas in which laicism has eclipsed the sense of God and obscured Christian values. May your commitment and witness be as a leaven which - patiently, respecting times and with 'sensus Ecclesia' - causes the dough to rise.
"The Church has recognised in the Way a special gift which the Holy Spirit has given to our times. The approval of the Statutes and of the 'Catechetical Directory' are a sign of this. I encourage you to make your original contribution to the cause of the Gospel. In your vital work, always seek profound communion with the Apostolic See and with the pastors of the particular Churches of which you are a part. For the world in which we live, the unity and harmony of the ecclesial body are an important testimony to Christ and His Gospel".
"You have just listened to the reading of a decree granting approval to the celebrations contained in the 'Catechetical Directory of the Neo-Catechumenal Way' which are not strictly liturgical but are part of the itinerary of growth in the faith. This is a further element showing you that the Church accompanies you attentively and with patient discernment, that she understands your richness but also looks to the communion and harmony of the entire 'Corpus Ecclesiae'. .... The risen Christ is actively present in the Church's liturgical activity, making the paschal Mystery real and effective for our salvation today. ... This work of the Lord Jesus, this entering into the paschal Mystery, which is the true content of the liturgy, is also the work of the Church which, being His body, is a single entity with Christ"
"This holds true particularly for the celebration of the Eucharist which, being the pinnacle of Christian life, is also the key to its rediscovery, which is also the aim of the neo-catechumenate. As your Statutes say: 'The Eucharist is essential to the neo-catechumenate which is a post-baptismal catechumenate, lived in small communities'.
"Precisely in order to foment a renewal of the richness of sacramental life among people who have distanced themselves from the Church, or who have not received adequate formation, the members of the Neo-Catechumenal Way can celebrate the Sunday Eucharist in small communities".
"Celebration in small communities, regulated by the books of the liturgy which must be accurately followed, and with the particular features approved in the Statutes of the Way, helps the followers of the Neo-Catechumenal Way to perceive the grace of being part of Christ's salvific mystery. ... At the same time the progressive maturity in faith of individuals and small communities must favour their insertion into the life of the ecclesial community as a whole, which has its ordinary form in the liturgical celebrations in parishes, in which and for which the neo-catechumenate is implemented.
"Yet even during the journey it is important not to separate oneself from the parish community, and particularly in the celebration of the Eucharist which is the true place of universal unity, where the Lord embraces us in our various states of spiritual maturity and unites us in the one bread that makes us one body".
In conclusion the Holy Father thanked the neo-catechumens for their expressions of affection and asked them to remember him in their prayers.
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APPROVAL FOR CELEBRATIONS OF NEO-CATECHUMENAL WAY
VATICAN CITY, 20 JAN 2012 (VIS) - The Pontifical Council for the Laity today published a decree approving the celebrations contained in the Catechetical Directory of the Neo-Catechumenal Way. The decree is dated 8 January, Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, and bears the signatures of Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko and Bishop Josef Clemens, respectively president and secretary of the council.
The text published today reads: "By a decree of 11 May 2008 the Pontifical Council for the Laity gave definitive approval to the Statutes of the Neo-Catechumenal Way. Subsequently, following due consultation with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, by a decree of 26 December 2010, the council gave approval to the publication of the Catechetical Directory as a valid and binding instrument for the catechesis of the Neo-Catechumenal Way.
"Now, pursuant to articles 131 and 133 paragraphs 1 and 2 of the Apostolic Constitution 'Pastor Bonus' on the Roman Curia, the Pontifical Council for the Laity, having received the 'nulla osta' of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, grants approval to those celebrations contained in the Catechetical Directory of the Neo-Catechumenal Way which are not, by their nature, already regulated by the liturgical books of the Church".
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VATICAN CITY, 20 JAN 2012 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in audience Archbishop Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.