BENEDICT XVI EMPHASIZES DISCERNMENT IN SEMINARY YEARS

Tells Young Men to Approach Priesthood Only If They’re Firmly Convinced of Vocation

MADRID, Spain, AUG. 20, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Celebrating Mass with nearly a thousand seminarians from all over the world today, Benedict XVI emphasized the importance of discernment in preparation for the priesthood.

The Pope’s meeting with seminarians took place in the context of World Youth Day, which concludes with Sunday’s morning Mass.

“Under the guidance of your formators, open your hearts to the light of the Lord, to see if this path which demands courage and authenticity is for you,” the Holy Father told them. “Approach the priesthood only if you are firmly convinced that God is calling you to be his ministers, and if you are completely determined to exercise it in obedience to the Church’s precepts.”

He encouraged them to spend their seminary years in interior silence, unceasing prayer, constant study and “gradual insertion into the pastoral activity and structures of the Church. A Church which is community and institution, family and mission, the creation of Christ through his Holy Spirit, as well as the result of those of us who shape it through our holiness and our sins.”

“We have to be saints so as not to create a contradiction between the sign that we are and the reality that we wish to signify,” the Pontiff added.

The years of formation should also be a time of “deep joy,” he continued, lived “humbly, clear-mindedly and with radical fidelity to the Gospel, in an affectionate relation to the time spent and the people among whom you live.”

Be ready

Benedict XVI warned the future priests that their vocation will have difficulties.

“Relying on his love, do not be intimidated by surroundings that would exclude God and in which power, wealth and pleasure are frequently the main criteria ruling people’s lives,” he said. “You may be shunned along with others who propose higher goals or who unmask the false gods before whom many now bow down. That will be the moment when a life deeply rooted in Christ will clearly be seen as something new and it will powerfully attract those who truly search for God, truth and justice.”

The Holy Father encouraged the seminarians to look to Mary, Mother of priests.

“She will know how to mold your hearts according to the model of Christ, her divine Son, and she will teach you how to treasure forever all that he gained on Calvary for the salvation of the world.”

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