TO THE SEMINARIANS OF THE ARCHDIOCESE OF AGRIGENTO
Hall of the Consistory
Saturday, November 24th 2018
I welcome you and thank you for this visit. I thank in particular your Rector, also for his words of introduction.
In the short time of our meeting I would like to give you some ideas for personal and community reflection, and I take them from the recent Synod of young people.
First of all, the biblical icon: the Gospel of the disciples of Emmaus. I would like to return this icon to you, because it has guided all the work of the last Synod and can continue to inspire your path. And the journey is the first key word: the Risen Jesus meets us on the journey, which at the same time is the path, that is, the reality in which each of us is called to live, and it is the interior path, the path of faith and hope, which knows moments of light and moments of darkness. Here, in the journey, the Lord meets us, listens to us and speaks to us.
First of all, he listens to us. This is the second key word: listen. Our God is Word, and at the same time it is silence that listens. Jesus is the Word that has listened to us, the acceptance of our human condition. When he appears next to the two disciples, he walks with them listening to them, and even stimulating them to take out what they have inside, their hope and their disappointment. This, in your life as a seminary, means that in the first place there is the dialogue with the Lord made of mutual listening: He listens to me and I listen to Him. No fiction. No mask.
This listening to the heart in prayer educates us to be people able to listen to others, to become God willing to priests who offer the service of listening - and as we need it! -; and educates us to be more and more Church in listening, a community that knows how to listen. You now live it especially in contact with the young, meeting them, listening to them, inviting them to express themselves ... But this applies to all pastoral life: like Jesus, the Church is sent into the world to listen to the cry of humanity, which is often a silent cry , sometimes repressed, suffocated.
I walk; I listen; the third word is discernment. The seminar is a place and time of discernment. And this requires accompaniment, as Jesus does with the two disciples and with all his disciples, especially the Twelve. He accompanies them patiently and with wisdom, educates them to follow him in the truth, exposing the false expectations that they carry in their hearts. With respect and decision, as a good friend and also a good doctor, who sometimes has to use the scalpel. Many problems that occur in the life of a priest are due to a lack of discernment during the years of the seminar. Not all and not always, but many. It's normal, the same goes for marriage: certain things not addressed before can become problems later. Jesus does not pretend with the two of Emmaus, he is not evasive, he does not circumvent the problem: he calls them "foolish and slow-hearted" (Lk 24,25) because they do not believe in the prophets. And he opens their minds to the Scriptures, and then, at the table, opens their eyes to his new Presence, in the sign of broken bread.
The mystery of vocation and discernment is a masterpiece of the Holy Spirit, which requires the collaboration of the young man called and of the adult who accompanies him.
We know that the fourth word is a mission; and the Synod of Youth greatly valued the synodal dimension of the mission: going together to meet others. The two of Emmaus return together to Jerusalem and above all they join the apostolic community which, by the power of the Spirit, becomes all missionary. This underlining is important, because the temptation to be good individual missionaries is always lurking. Already as seminarians one can fall into this temptation: feeling good because one is brilliant in preaching, or organizing events, or in beautiful ceremonies, and so on. Too often our approach has been individual, rather than collegial, fraternal. And so the presbytery and the diocesan pastoral work may present splendid individuality but little testimony of communion, of collegiality. Thank God we are growing in this, also forced by the scarcity of clergy, but communion is not made by compulsion, we must believe in it and be docile to the Spirit.
Dear brothers, here are the ideas I leave you, all contained in the Gospel icon of the disciples of Emmaus: walking; to listen; discern; go together. I ask the Lord and the Virgin Mary to accompany you, I bless you and I pray for you. And you, please, remember to pray for me.
FULL TEXT Source: Vatican.va - Unofficial Translation from Italian - Image Share from Vatican Media