Vatican City, 26 March 2014 (VIS) – “The Sacraments of the Holy Orders and Matrimony, two specific vocations and two great paths to the Lord” were the theme of the Holy Father’s catechesis during today’s general audience in St. Peter’s Square. “The ministers who are chosen and consecrated for this service prolong Jesus’ presence over time, and they do so with the power of the Holy Spirit in the name of God, and with love”.
“Those who are ordained are placed at the head of the community. Yes, they are at the ‘head’, but for Jesus this means placing their authority at the service of the community. … ‘whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant and whoever wants to be first must be your slave’. … A bishop who does not serve his community does not do good; a priest or a curate who does not place himself at the service of his community does not do good, he is mistaken”.
Pope Francis emphasised that “impassioned love for the Church” is a characteristic that always derives from this sacramental union with Christ. “The bishop, the priest, love the Church in their own community, they love the Church greatly. How? How Christ loves His Church. … The spouse loves his wife as Christ loves His Church. … The priesthood and matrimony are two Sacraments that represent the path by which people habitually reach the Lord”.
Finally, the Pope cited the words of St. Paul to Timothy when he advised him not to neglect, but rather always to revive the gift given to him. “When the ministry is not nurtured by prayer, by listening to the Word of God, with the daily celebration of the Eucharist, and also with regular confession, the authentic sense of one’s own service is inevitably lost from view, along with the joy that comes from profound communion with Jesus. … The priest who does not do these things loses, over time, his union with Jesus and becomes mediocre, which is not good for the Church. Therefore, we must help bishops and priests to pray, to listen to the Word of God that is our daily bread, to celebrate the Eucharist every day and to confess regularly”.
“Access to the priesthood cannot be sold. This is an initiative the Lord takes. The Lord calls”, he added, and concluded by encouraging the young who hear this call to “cherish this invitation and pray so that it might grow and bear fruit in all the Church”.