Praying the Gospel – the beginning of a priestly vocation
Young men need more places and more
opportunities to listen to the word of God and reflect in silence so that they
can better hear if God is calling them to the priesthood, Pope Benedict XVI
The low number of priestly ordinations in some parts of the world should not lead to discouragement, he said July 1 during his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square.
Instead it should be the impetus to increase the number of places dedicated "to silence and to listening to the word, and to take better care of spiritual direction and the sacrament of confession so that God's voice, which always continues to call and confirm, may be heard and readily followed by many young people," he said.
The pope dedicated his catechesis to the church's celebration of the Year for Priests, which began June 19.
He said there was a close link between the year of St. Paul, which ended June 28 and the current Year for Priests. St. Paul showed how "the mystery of Christ must stand at the very heart of our lives as individuals and as a community," he said.
When Jesus summoned and appointed twelve of his disciples to follow him, calling them to proclaim the Gospel and giving them the power to cast out demons, he demonstrated the two major elements of priestly ministry, the pope said.
"Proclamation and power, that is, the word and sacraments are the two fundamental columns of priestly service," he said.
In fact, a priest is a man who has converted, been renewed by the Holy Spirit and lives in a personal relationship with Christ, he said.
A priest embodies unity and truth and is "aware of his own limits while at the same time of the extraordinary enormity of the vocation he received," he said.
Prayer is fundamental for the sanctification of priests and for the abundance of ordinations, said Pope Benedict.
"Whoever prays is not afraid, whoever prays is never alone, whoever prays is saved," he said.
He asked that the whole church pray for the world's priests and appreciate more deeply the role of the priest in the community.
The pope said he hoped the Year for Priests would help all priests "appreciate the immense grace of their vocation, consecration and mission."