a) A Priest’s Mission

Being A Priest (free from clker dot com)

This page does not claim in any way to represent the mission of a priest, but rather tries to give indications and reminders as to that mission.

Pope Francis has said many interesting things directly to priests on their role as priest. He’s encouraging, while he’s also challenging.

There’s relevant quotes from others, too, most notably Jesus.

Let’s hope this page might some day help some priest — or someone who may have a calling to be a priest.

A Priest’s Mission:
Top Quotes

  1. When a priest is in love with Jesus, you can see it.
    Even if he’s tired as a mop.
    If not, he behaves like a bureaucrat. (Pope Francis)
  2. The only place where there are no arguments is the cemetery. (Pope Francis)
  3. Today, I ask you, in this retreat, to be pastors with the compassion of God. To leave the “whip” hanging in the sacristy and to be pastors with tenderness, also with those who create many problems. It is a grace. It is a divine grace. (Pope Francis)
  4. Your homilies should not be boring. Your homilies should reach people’s hearts, because they come from your heart. (Pope Francis)
  5. When it comes to Confession, you are there to forgive, not to condemn. Imitate the Lord, who never tires of forgiving. (Pope Francis)
  6. Diligently read and meditate on the Word of the Lord, that you may believe what you read, teach what you have learned in faith, and practice what you teach. (Pope Francis)
  7. You did not give yourself to God to follow your own inclination but to submit to God’s guidance. (Saint Vincent de Paul)
  8. The scribes and the Pharisees occupy the chair of Moses. You must therefore do what they tell you and listen to what they say; but do not be guided by what they do: since they do not practice what they preach. (Jesus)
  9. Like Jesus, the priest makes the message joyful with his entire person. When he preaches – briefly, if possible! –, he does so with the joy that touches people’s hearts with that same word with which the Lord has touched his own heart in prayer. Like every other missionary disciple, the priest makes the message joyful by his whole being. (Pope Francis)
  10. Mary is the new wineskin brimming with contagious joy. Without her, dear priests, we cannot move forward in our priesthood! … Her “contagious fullness” helps us overcome the temptation of fear, the temptation to keep ourselves from being filled to the brim and even overflowing, the temptation to a faint-heartedness that holds us back from going forth to fill others with joy. (Pope Francis)
  11. From Jesus we have to learn that announcing a great joy to the poor can only be done in a respectful, humble, and even humbling, way. (Pope Francis)
  12. One of the things required most in a seminary is to have spiritual persons of deep piety to inspire the seminarians with this spirit. (Saint Vincent de Paul)
  13. It was axiomatic among the Fathers of the Church that bad priests are the ruin of the people. (Original source unknown, regarded as a maxim by Pope John XXIII)

A Priest’s Mission:
Full Quotes and Sources of Quotes

Before the Q&A session started, the pope told the priests and the bishops that conflict inside the Church is to be expected. According to Francis, a Church with no internal tensions is dead.

“The only place where there are no arguments is the cemetery,” he joked.

….

“When a priest is in love with Jesus, you can see it,” Francis said. “Even if he’s tired as a mop. If not, he behaves like a bureaucrat.”

Francis told the priests to avoid being “puritans” and “hypocrites,” saying the Church should not be so attached to the law that it has no mercy or tenderness. He called on them not to condemn a newborn child for the sins of their parents, for instance by denying baptism to the child of a single mother or of a divorced and re-married person.

The pontiff asked priests to respect laity by “leaving them in peace,” and to avoid the temptation of clericalism. A parish priest, he said, shouldn’t turn every good layman into a deacon, nor should a layman try to be good by being ordained.

….

An Australian priest asked the pontiff for his “secret” in reaching out successfully to the secular world. Francis said in those places where the Church seems irrelevant, reduced to a subculture, the important thing is not to proselytize.

He said that proselytism is a “caricature” of spreading the Gospel, and quoted Benedict XVI to the effect that the Church can grow only by attracting others to it, by using a “language of gestures” and provoking curiosity.

Francis added that it’s important not to condemn anyone, to repay an enemy with goodness, and to always put the focus on the Holy Spirit.

To a priest from Peru, who asked Francis about the best way to help those living in situations of social injustice and poverty, he said that the easiest answer would be to “spread hope.”

The pope then called the poor the “wealth of the Church,” saying they’re the heart of the Latin American church and that they can’t be used as propaganda.

The Argentine pontiff said the biggest temptation of Latin American clerics is to become attached to money and power, adding that although the laity can forgive a priest for emotional quirks or having an extra glass of wine, they won’t forgive a priest who cares too much about money or who mistreats his flock.

“There’s so much poverty in the world today,” Francis said. “Even in the soul of the rich … How I want them to be free, not slaves to money.”

When a priest from Holland asked the pontiff about the relationship between Eastern and Western Europe, Francis said that there’s always been a geopolitical tension between cultures, reminding his audience that Catholic forces sacked Constantinople (1204) and invaded Russia twice.

“Dialogue is needed,” he said. “There’s hope, despite those who say there’s no hope between Moscow and Constantinople,” adding that the Vatican and the Patriarchate of Constantinople are on the same page when it comes to fundamental values.

Francis called the division among Christian churches “shameful,” expressing hope to find a unified date for Easter week.

“It’s a scandal that we have to ask each other, ‘When does your Christ rise from the dead?’” he said.

— Pope Francis in an “off-the-cuff” Question-And-Answer session as reported by Inés San Martín for cruxnow.com (‘Francis talks women, clericalism, and Catholic-on-Catholic fights’) after his Mass with priests from all round the world gathered for the “Third Worldwide Priests’ Retreat” in the Basilica of St John Lateran in Rome, June 12 2015

“How often do I think that we are afraid of the tenderness of God and because we are afraid of God’s tenderness, we do not allow it to be felt within us. Because of this we are so often hard, serious, punishing…. We are pastors without compassion. What does Jesus say to us in Luke at Chapter 15? About that shepherd who noticed that he had 99 sheep for one was missing. He left them well safeguarded, locked away, and went to search for the other, who was ensnared in thorns…. And he didn’t beat it, didn’t scold it: he took it tightly in his arms and cared for it, for it was injured. Do you do the same with your faithful? When you realize that one of your flock is missing? Or are we accustomed to being a Church which has a single sheep in her flock and we let the other 99 get lost on the hill? Are you moved by all this compassion? Are you a shepherd of sheep or have you become one who is “grooming” the one remaining sheep? Because you seek only yourself and you have forgotten about the tenderness your Father gave you, and it is recounted to you here, in Chapter 11 of Hosea. And you have forgotten how to give that compassion. The Heart of Christ is the tenderness of God. “How could I fail you? How could I abandon you? When you are alone, disoriented, lost, come to me, and I will save you, I will comfort you”.

Today, I ask you, in this retreat, to be pastors with the compassion of God. To leave the “whip” hanging in the sacristy and to be pastors with tenderness, also with those who create many problems. It is a grace. It is a divine grace, We do not believe in an ethereal God, we believe in a God who became flesh, who has a heart and this heart today speaks to us thus: “Come to me. If you are tired, oppressed and I will give you rest. But the smallest, treat them with compassion, with the same tenderness with which I treat you”. The Heart of Jesus Christ says this to us today, and it is what I ask in this Mass for you, and also for me.”

— Pope Francis in his homily as part of the Mass for priests from around the world gathered for the “Third Worldwide Priests’ Retreat” in the Basilica of St John Lateran in Rome, June 12 2015

“Your homilies should not be boring. Your homilies should reach people’s hearts, because they come from your heart. What you tell parishioners is what you have in your heart…. When it comes to Confession, you are there to forgive, not to condemn. Imitate the Lord, who never tires of forgiving…. Carry out your priestly ministry of Christ with joy and charity. It’s ugly when a priest only lives to praise himself and show off.”

— Pope Francis in his homily of Sunday 26th April 2015 in the Vatican Basilica, a Mass with priestly ordinations, as viewable on youtube here, and as published on 27 Apr 2015 by ‘Rome Reports in English’ (Note: the full address with rather stilted translation is printed on the Vatican website here)

“Diligently read and meditate on the Word of the Lord, that you may believe what you read, teach what you have learned in faith, and practice what you teach.”

— Pope Francis in his homily of Sunday 26th April 2015 in the Vatican Basilica, a Mass with priestly ordinations, as published on the Vatican website

“The scribes and the Pharisees occupy the chair of Moses. You must therefore do what they tell you and listen to what they say; but do not be guided by what they do: since they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but will they lift a finger to move them? Not they! Everything they do is done to attract attention, like wearing broader phylacteries and longer tassels, like wanting to take the place of honour at banquets and the front seats in the synagogues, being greeting obsequiusly in the market squares and having people call them Rabbi.”

— Jesus in Matthew, chapter 23 addressing the people and his disciples

“Like Jesus, the priest makes the message joyful with his entire person. When he preaches – briefly, if possible! –, he does so with the joy that touches people’s hearts with that same word with which the Lord has touched his own heart in prayer. Like every other missionary disciple, the priest makes the message joyful by his whole being. For as we all know, it is in the little things that joy is best seen and shared: when by taking one small step, we make God’s mercy overflow in situations of desolation; when we decide to pick up the phone and arrange to see someone; when we patiently allow others to take up our time.

…. Mary is the new wineskin brimming with contagious joy. Without her, dear priests, we cannot move forward in our priesthood! She is “the handmaid of the Father who sings his praises” (Evangelii Gaudium, 286), Our Lady of Prompt Succour, who, after conceiving in her immaculate womb the Word of life, goes out to visit and assist her cousin Elizabeth. Her “contagious fullness” helps us overcome the temptation of fear, the temptation to keep ourselves from being filled to the brim and even overflowing, the temptation to a faint-heartedness that holds us back from going forth to fill others with joy.

…. From Jesus we have to learn that announcing a great joy to the poor can only be done in a respectful, humble, and even humbling, way.

— Pope Francis, in his homily Holy Thursday 13th April 2017 as published on the Vatican website and shown in a news report on youtube here

“You did not give yourself to God to follow your own inclination but to submit to God’s guidance.”

— Saint Vincent de Paul VI:146 (see here)

“One of the things required most in a seminary is to have spiritual persons of deep piety to inspire the seminarians with this spirit, for no one can give what he doesn’t have.”

— Saint Vincent de Paul VI:71 (see here)

“It was axiomatic among the Fathers of the Church that bad priests are the ruin of the people.”

— A quote written by Pope John XXIII, “Good Pope John,” as it appears in his autobiography ‘Journal of a Soul‘, page 437 of the 1980 revised edition published by Geoffrey Chapman of London & NY. (Note: This quote is under a title of the Pope’s called “Maxims heard or gleaned from various sources” and the editors of the book comment, “We give this list just as it was made by Angelo Roncalli when he was a seminarist, without trying to verify or complete the sources or texts.”)

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