Papal Homily to Priests on the Feast of the Sacred Heart

There are times when Papa Benny just nails it. There are times when his teaching and his homilies – and even his ad libs (I am waiting eagerly for a full translation of his Q&A session with priests from the vigil in St Peter’s – a summary is here on VIS) – come straight from his heart and from his great ability to communicate the truths of the faith in simple and personal ways.

Pope Benedict’s Homily to the priests gathered for liturgy of the Sacred Heart last Friday in Rome is one of these occasions. The entire homily is worth reading. Of course many will be interested in it for what he had to say about The Scandal – and he did say some words on this topic (it was obviously not far from his mind throughout the whole homily) – but there was much more than that. I can’t put it all here, but here are some snippets:

Had the Year for Priests been a glorification of our individual human performance, it would have been ruined by these events. But for us what happened was precisely the opposite: we grew in gratitude for God’s gift, a gift concealed in “earthen vessels” which ever anew, even amid human weakness, makes his love concretely present in this world. So let us look upon all that happened as a summons to purification, as a task which we bring to the future and which makes us acknowledge and love all the more the great gift we have received from God. In this way, his gift becomes a commitment to respond to God’s courage and humility by our own courage and our own humility. The word of God, which we have sung in the Entrance Antiphon of today’s liturgy, can speak to us, at this hour, of what it means to become and to be a priest: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble of heart” (Mt 11:29)…

God personally looks after me, after us, after all mankind. I am not abandoned, adrift in the universe and in a society which leaves me ever more lost and bewildered. God looks after me. He is not a distant God, for whom my life is worthless… It is fine and consoling to know that there is someone who loves me and looks after me. But it is far more important that there is a God who knows me, loves me and is concerned about me. “I know my own and my own know me” (Jn 10:14), the Church says before the Gospel with the Lord’s words. God knows me, he is concerned about me. This thought should make us truly joyful…

“Your rod and your staff – they comfort me”: the shepherd needs the rod as protection against savage beasts ready to pounce on the flock; against robbers looking for prey. Along with the rod there is the staff which gives support and helps to make difficult crossings. Both of these are likewise part of the Church’s ministry, of the priest’s ministry. The Church too must use the shepherd’s rod, the rod with which he protects the faith against those who falsify it, against currents which lead the flock astray. The use of the rod can actually be a service of love. Today we can see that it has nothing to do with love when conduct unworthy of the priestly life is tolerated. Nor does it have to do with love if heresy is allowed to spread and the faith twisted and chipped away, as if it were something that we ourselves had invented. As if it were no longer God’s gift, the precious pearl which we cannot let be taken from us. Even so, the rod must always become once again the shepherd’s staff – a staff which helps men and women to tread difficult paths and to follow the Lord.

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4 Responses to Papal Homily to Priests on the Feast of the Sacred Heart

  1. Past Elder / Terry Maher says:

    “Today we can see that it has nothing to do with love when conduct unworthy of the priestly life is tolerated.”

    What, yesterday you couldn’t?

  2. Tom says:

    Flippancy and sarcasm are not helpful.

  3. Peregrinus says:

    The tone is unpleasant, certainly, and yet the point is valid. It is manifestly true that “yesterday” there were in the hierarchy many who didn’t see this, or at least didn’t see it clearly enough to act as they should have acted.

    But this means that we should welcome what the pope has to say, rather than sneer at it. When a pope – or indeed any leader – says “we see X” he is not just making an observation that, as a matter of fact, we all do already see X. He is saying “I see X, and so should you, and if you don’t see X yet you’re not looking hard enough, and if you persistently fail to see X then that is going to cause you a problem” – only more politely.

  4. R J Stove says:

    Perhaps once the Ronald Conway case really hits the headlines, the obvious question will be asked: why are those mass-media pundits howling at the moon against “clerical sex abuse” (whether actual or, often enough, imaginary) remaining, for the most part, deathly-silent when it comes to instances of lay homoerotic perversion?

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