Opening of the Academic Year in Rome

November 8, 2011

On Friday, November 4, the Holy Father celebrated Vespers in a very full St. Peter’s Basilica to open the new academic year for all of the Pontifical Universities in Rome, including the Dominicans’ own Pontifical University of St. Thomas (the ‘Angelicum’). Vespers was celebrated on the feast of St. Charles Borromeo, the patron saint of seminary studies. Although the Pontifical Universities are attended by seminaries, religious, and the lay faithful, the Pope chose to address his comments particularly to the spiritual and academic formation of priests. In his homily, the Pope spoke especially on the conditions necessary for a priest to be fruitful in his ministry to shepherd the community. The Pope underlined three factors that aid a priest’s ability to grow in accord with Christ in his own priestly life.  First, he must encounter the Lord Jesus, he must be struck by the very person of Christ, his words and actions. The priest must be “affascinato”–fascinated with–the person of Christ.  In this way, he is capable of hearing Jesus’ voice above all of the voices of the world. The priest is called to be the instrument of Christ’s presence into his own time, but he can do so only by that intimate relation with Jesus Christ that is friendship. Second, priests are called to be “amministratori dei Misteri di Dio”–administrators of the mysteries of God–, not for themselves alone but for the people of God. Just as the priest himself is chosen by God in the sacrament of Ordination, so he must choose daily to give himself over to the love of God and of neighbor. To be a priest is to follow in the complete self-gift of the love of Christ expressed on the cross, remembering that growth in ministry is characterized not by success but by the cross. Finally, the logic of the foregoing means that what it means to be a priest is to serve, especially in the example of one’s own life. This life of service is shown especially in the priest’s careful attention to his flock, his faithful celebration of the liturgy, and his ready solicitude for all his brethren, especially the poor.  Is is in living a life of “carità pastorale”–pastoral charity–that the priest truly lives his vocation. A complete text of the Pope’s homily can be found on the Vatican website in Italian.  The Holy See also has a video of the Vespers celebration.

More News & Events