Prostration of ordinands during the litany of the Saints (July 22, 2009)
In the mail recently, I received a CD with 322 photographs from Bruno Rotival, a photographer who specializes in images of abbeys and monasteries and who took photos at the ordination ceremony I presided at the Abbaye de Sept-Fons (France) of two monks ordained to the priesthood Brothers M-Nathanael, M-Macaire and another two to the diaconate M-Jerome, M-Joachim. With his permission, I am using some images from that celebration to illustrate Pope Benedict's Letter to Priests, part nine of which is featured today. [Photos: Copyright Bruno Rotival: http://pagesperso-orange.fr/bruno.rotival/].
Please pray for a fruitful ministry for all priests ordained this year.
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Pope Benedict's Letter to Priests (continued)
In this context of a spirituality nourished by the practice of the evangelical counsels, I would like to invite all priests, during this Year dedicated to them, to welcome the new springtime which the Spirit is now bringing about in the Church, not least through the ecclesial movements and the new communities. “In his gifts the Spirit is multifaceted… He breathes where he wills. He does so unexpectedly, in unexpected places, and in ways previously unheard of… but he also shows us that he works with a view to the one body and in the unity of the one body”.
In this regard, the statement of the Decree Presbyterorum Ordinis continues to be timely: “While testing the spirits to discover if they be of God, priests must discover with faith, recognize with joy and foster diligently the many and varied charismatic gifts of the laity, whether these be of a humble or more exalted kind”. These gifts, which awaken in many people the desire for a deeper spiritual life, can benefit not only the lay faithful but the clergy as well.
The communion between ordained and charismatic ministries can provide “a helpful impulse to a renewed commitment by the Church in proclaiming and bearing witness to the Gospel of hope and charity in every corner of the world”. I would also like to add, echoing the Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis of Pope John Paul II, that the ordained ministry has a radical “communitarian form” and can be exercised only in the communion of priests with their Bishop.
This communion between priests and their Bishop, grounded in the sacrament of Holy Orders and made manifest in Eucharistic concelebration, needs to be translated into various concrete expressions of an effective and affective priestly fraternity. Only thus will priests be able to live fully the gift of celibacy and build thriving Christian communities in which the miracles which accompanied the first preaching of the Gospel can be repeated.
The Pauline Year now coming to its close invites us also to look to the Apostle of the Gentiles, who represents a splendid example of a priest entirely devoted to his ministry. “The love of Christ urges us on” – he wrote – “because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died” (2 Cor 5:14). And he adds: “He died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them” (2 Cor 5:15).
Could a finer programme could be proposed to any priest resolved to advance along the path of Christian perfection?