Today Pope Francis presided over the ordinations for the Diocese of Rome in St. Peter’s Basilica. Twenty six men were ordained.
In his homily, Pope Francis gave the newly ordained a few tips before embarking on their ministry. Most of his tips focused on how to administer the sacraments. A translation of Pope Francis’ homily can be found at Zenit. Below are highlights from his homily…
In regards to baptism, Pope Francis said that priests should never bar anyone from receiving the sacrament of baptism if they ask for it:
In Baptism, join new faithful to the People of God. Do not ever refuse Baptism to anyone who asks!
His advice on the Eucharist and the celebration of Mass was even more direct:
When you celebrate the Mass, therefore, acknowledge what you do. Do not do it in a hurry! Imitate that which you celebrate – not an artificial rite, an artificial ritual – in order that, participating in the mystery of death and resurrection of the Lord, you bring the death of Christ in your members and so that you walk with Him in the newness of life.
In giving advice about how to conduct themselves in the confessional, Pope Francis told the ordinands to always go into the confessional ready to forgive, and never to condemn:
I, in the name of Jesus Christ, the Lord, and his Bride, the Holy Church, I ask you not to grow weary of being merciful. In the confessional, you are to going to forgive, not to condemn! Imitate the Father who never gets tired of forgiving.
Pope Francis also gave them some advice on preaching. He noted that in order for the words of a homily to reach the hearts of the people, the words must first flow from the heart of the preacher:
This is the nourishment of the People of God; that your sermons are not boring; that your own homilies reach people’s hearts because they come from your heart, because what you are saying is truly what you have in your heart. So give the Word of God, and thus your doctrine will be joy and support for the faithful of Christ; the scent of your life will be the testimony, because the example builds, but the words without example are empty words, and will never arrive at the heart and even do harm: They do no good!
Pope Francis also reminded the ordinands that their service must be for the Church and not themselves:
Aware of being chosen from among men and being favored among them to attend to the things of God, exercise in joy and sincere charity the priestly work of Christ, intent only on
pleasing God and not yourselves. It is a bad priest who lives to please himself, who does “the Peacock!”
Finally, Pope Francis called those being ordained to strive to model the life of the Good Shepherd:
Be ministers of unity in the Church, in family – leading them to God the Father through Christ in the Holy Spirit. And always keep in mind the example of the Good Shepherd, who came not to be served but to serve; not to stay in his comfort, but to go out and seek and save what was lost.
Today also marks the 52nd World Day of Prayer for Vocations. A summary of Pope Francis’ message for vocations released a few weeks ago can be found at Pray Tell.