Catholic World News News Feature
Pope urges priests to prayer, not activism April 13, 2006
Priests should be men of prayer rather than activists, Pope Benedict XVI said as he celebrated the Chrism Mass on Holy Thursday with the priests of Rome.
Every priest should constantly nurture his friendship with Jesus Christ, since the essence of the priesthood lies in serving in persona Christi, the Holy Father said. He concluded his homily by citing the words of Father Andrea Santoro, the Italian missionary who was killed in Turkey in February, who said that in his priestly ministry he was "giving Him my flesh."
On Holy Thursday, as the Church recalls the Last Supper and the institution of the priesthood, the Pope devoted his homily to priestly ministry. Priests, he said, must realize that "the world needs God-- not just any god, but the God of Jesus Christ, the God who became flesh and blood, who loved us to the point of dying for us."
The Chrism Mass is celebrated annually in each diocese, with the priests of that diocese gathered around the bishop as he blesses the chrism, or oil, that is used for sacramental anointing. About 1,000 priests of the Rome diocese joined the Pontiff in St. Peter's basilica for the Mass. After the homily, these priests joined in renewing their vows.
Pope Benedict had reminded them that friendship with Christ begins with prayer. He cautioned that "simple activism" is not enough, even if the level of activism is "heroic." The Pontiff explained that if "the exterior action is not born of a profound and intimate communion with Christ," it is likely to be pointless. Today's world is full of activists, he continued, but in danger of losing its bearings, and "if the forces of prayer are diminishing," destructive tendencies are all the more likely to grow.
At ordination, the Pope recalled, a priest's hands are anointed. "If a man's hands symbolically represent his faculties, his ability to work in the world," he said, "then the anointed hands become a sign of his capacity to give-- of the creativity to shape the world with love." Jesus commissions priests to act in his name, doing his work in the world with those hands, he said. "What trust!" the Pope said. "He has really delivered Himself into our hands!"