Vatican City, 21 April 2013 (VIS) – This morning in St. Peter's Basilica, Pope Francis conferred priestly ordination upon ten deacons from several Roman diocesan seminaries: the Major Seminary, the Seminary of the Oblates, the sanctuary of the Virgin of Divine Love, and the Redemptoris Mater Seminary. Concelebrating with the Holy Father were Cardinal Agostino Vallini, vicar general of His Holiness for Rome, Archbishop Filippo Iannone, O. Carm., vice gerent of the diocese of Rome, auxiliary bishops, and the superiors of the seminaries from which the new priests came.
The homily delivered by the Bishop of Rome was based on the one that appears in the Pontificale Romanum for the ordination of priests, with one or two personal additions, mainly emphasizing the mercy that must characterize the new priests. Following are ample extracts from his homily.
“It is true that God has made his entire holy people a royal priesthood in Christ. Nevertheless, our great Priest himself, Jesus Christ, chose certain disciples to carry out publicly in his name, and on behalf of mankind, a priestly office in the Church. For Christ was sent by the Father and he in turn sent the Apostles into the world, so that through them and their successors, the Bishops, he might continue to exercise his office of Teacher, Priest, and Shepherd. Indeed, priests are established co-workers of the Order of Bishops, with whom they are joined in the priestly office and with whom they are called to the service of the people of God.”
“Now ... you are to be raised to the Order of the Priesthood. For your part you will exercise the sacred duty of teaching in the name of Christ the Teacher. Impart to everyone the Word of God which you have received with joy. Remember your mothers, your grandmothers, your catechists, who gave you the Word of God, the faith ... the gift of faith! ... Meditating on the law of the Lord, see that you believe what you read, that you teach what you believe, and that you practise what you teach. Remember too that the Word of God is not your property: it is the Word of God. And the Church is the custodian of the Word of God.”
“You will exercise in Christ the office of sanctifying. … You will gather others into the people of God through Baptism, and you will forgive sins in the name of Christ and the Church in the sacrament of Penance. Today I ask you in the name of Christ and the Church, never tire of being merciful. You will comfort the sick and the elderly with holy oil: do not hesitate to show tenderness towards the elderly.”
“Remember then that you are taken from among men and appointed on their behalf for those things that pertain to God. Therefore, carry out the ministry of Christ the Priest with constant joy and genuine love, attending not to your own concerns but to those of Jesus Christ. You are pastors, not functionaries. Be mediators, not intermediaries.”
“Finally, dear sons, exercising for your part the office of Christ, Head and Shepherd, while united with the Bishop and subject to him, strive to bring the faithful together into one family, so that you may lead them to God the Father through Christ in the Holy Spirit. Keep always before your eyes the example of the Good Shepherd who came not to be served but to serve, and who came to seek out and save what was lost.”
Vatican City, 21 April 2013 (VIS) – At the end of the Mass celebrated in the Vatican Basilica for the ordination of ten deacons, the Holy Father appeared at the window of his study in the Vatican Apostolic Palace to pray the Regina Coeli with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.
The Pope explained that the fourth Sunday of Easter is characterized by the Gospel of the Good Shepherd, citing the four verses that contain“Jesus' entire message”. “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one” (Jn 10:27-30).
“Jesus wants to establish a relationship with his friends that reflects the one he has with the Father: a relationship of mutual belonging in complete confidence, in intimate communion.” To express this it is necessary to use the image of the sheep who recognize the voice of the shepherd and follow him. “The mystery of the voice is suggestive. Already at our mother's breast we learn to recognize her voice, and that of our father. By someone's tone of voice we can perceive love or contempt, affection or coldness. Jesus' voice is unique! If we learn to distinguish it, He guides us on the path of life, a path that even overcomes the abyss of death.”
However, referring to his sheep, Jesus also says: “My Father, who has given them to me. This is very important. It is a profound mystery that is not easy to understand. If I feel attracted to Jesus, if his voice warms my heart, it is thanks to God the Father who has put this desire for love, for truth, for life, for beauty within me. And Jesus is all this completely. This helps us to understand the mystery of vocation, especially of the call to a special consecration.”
“Today there are many young persons in the piazza,” the pontiff observed.“I want to ask you, has there been a time when you have heard the Lord's voice, who through a desire, a restlessness, has invited you to follow him more closely? … Youth needs to put its high ideals into action. Have you thought of this? … Ask Jesus what He wants of you and be courageous! … Behind and before each vocation to the priesthood or the consecrated life there is always someone's strong and intense prayer: a grandmother, a grandfather,a mother, a father, a community. This is why Jesus said 'ask the master of the harvest—that is, God the Father—to send out labourers for his harvest'. Vocations are born in prayer and from prayer. Only in prayer can they persevere and bear fruit. I would like to emphasize that today is the 'World Day of Prayer for Vocations'. Let us pray in particular for the new priests of the Diocese of Rome who I had the joy or ordaining this morning. … And let us call upon the intercession of Mary, who is the Woman of the 'Yes'. She said 'Yes' her entire life. She learned to recognize Jesus' voice from when she carried him in her womb. May Mary, our Mother, help us to always know better Jesus' voice and to follow it, to walk in the path of life.”