教宗本笃十六世值司铎年闭幕之际致修生们的信

 

20101018 

 

【按语:本文为教区修院李亮神父由德文所译,德文来自:www.kath.net,文中小标题为译者所加。本文后附英文信函供参考。】

 

亲爱的修生们,

 

当我在1944年被征召在军队服兵役时,连长问我们每一个人我们将来打算从事什么职业。我回答道,我想成为一名天主教司铎。那位连长少尉便说:哦,那你就必须另谋职业了,因为新德国将不需要神父了。我当时心里很清楚,所谓的“新德国”已经处于彻底灭亡的边缘,而且在纳粹主义的狂妄将这个国家破坏地满目疮痍后,这个国家正需要神父。当然,今天的社会情势与当时大为迥异。但是,今天仍有许多人以不同的方式认为,天主教会的司铎职务似乎是一个没有前途的职业,更好说,司铎职务已经是昨日黄花。

 

你们,亲爱的朋友们,面对着上述的思想意识及主观臆断,你们决定进入修院,从而踏上教会的司铎服务职务的道路。你们做得好!因为即就在这个科学技术统御一切及全球化的时代,人们仍总是需要天主,需要这一位在耶稣基督身上展现给我们的并将我们聚集在普世教会内的天主,为的是和他一起并通过他洞悉真正的生活,而且在现世生活中时时并卓有成效地秉持真正人伦的原则。人若不接受天主,其生活顿显空洞虚无。即便拥有一切,他还是觉得自己拥有的太微不足道。他便很容易在日益危害青年人的毒品或暴力中寻找慰藉和快乐。天主活生生地生活于我们中间。他创造了我们每一个人,因此,他也深深了解每一个人。天主是如此伟大,他肯关注我们每人的细微之处。  “你们头上的头发他都数过了”。天主活于我们中间,他需要一些为他而服务并把他带给大众的人。是的,成为一位神父,具有非凡的意义:这个世界需要神父及牧人,今天,明天,直到世界穷尽。

 

修道院是一个陶成修生迈向司铎服务职的旅程团体。这个定义已经透露了一个重要的信息:作为神父,他就永远不是独自一人。他存在于一个“使徒团”之中,他和其他神父并肩共处,共同建树大公的教会。在这封信中我切愿,也通过追忆我自己的修道院生涯,着重描摹出几点为陶成旅程甚为重要的几个思想。

 

1。天主圣言

 

谁若愿成为一名神父,就必须象圣保禄宗徒说的,他首先应是一位“天主的人”。【弟前6,11】为我们而言,天主既非一个遥远的假设,又不是一位在瞬闪即失的陌生者。天主在耶稣基督身上显示了自己。从基督的面容上我们瞻望天主的光辉面容。通过基督的言语天主和我们倾心交谈。因此,在步向司铎圣秩的道路上及整个司铎生涯中,最为重要的是我们在耶稣基督内和天主亲密融合的关系。司铎不是某个协会的管理者,只专注于巩固协会成员的数目及努力促进其蓬勃发展。他是活于大众之中的天主的使者。他切愿将大众引到天主台前并由此在大众之间建树一个臻于完善的团体。因此,亲爱的朋友们,至为重要的是,你们要学习在生活中始终和天主保持紧密的联系。

当主说:“恒心祈祷吧”,他肯定不是要求我们,豪不间歇地念经,而是要求我们,总不要在我们内心失去和天主的联接。我们的祈祷的主旨在于不断学习将我们融汇于他。显然地,我们每天以祈祷开启一天的生活,又以祈祷结束一天的劳作就愈显重要了。当我们通过恭读圣言倾听天主的声音,当我们向天主倾吐我们内心深处的切愿和希望,我们的喜悦及哀愁,我们的失误及对一切美好之物的感恩时,我们便是以天主为我们生活的基准点。我们就会特别敏锐的发觉我们的过错并努力改变我们自己;我们也就会敏锐地捕捉我们日常生活中的许许多多的美好事物,我们的感恩之情便会愈日具增。对天主的感恩之情愈深,喜悦之心便会不断萌生加深,啊,天主离我们这么近,而且我们竟可以侍奉他。

 

2。弥撒圣祭

 

为我们来说,天主不只是言语。在圣事中天主通过鲜活的方式和标记将自己活生生地赐给我们。弥撒圣祭是我们和天主的关系及我们生活结构的中枢。内心虔敬的参与弥撒圣祭并在此圣祭中和耶稣基督相遇则必须成为我们每天的中心。圣西比连【Heilige Zyprian】对福音中耶稣教给我们的祈祷词“我们的日用粮求你赐给我们”做了如下的诠释:我们作为基督徒在圣堂中每天领受的日用粮,就是主基督自己。当我们诵念天主经时,我们所祈求的是天主每天赏给“我们”食粮;就是让天主始终成为我们的食粮。的确,在弥撒圣祭中将自己赐予我们的复活了的主基督以自己天主性的大爱塑造滋养我们整个人生。为合宜地,虔敬地庆祝弥撒圣祭,我们也应当对在圣堂中的礼仪及其具体施行方式有所认识,理解并热爱礼仪。在礼仪中,我们联合所有世代的信徒,过去的,现今地及未来的信徒们同声祈祷,而且彼此息息相关形成一个祈祷的团体。回望我个人的生命历程我可以由衷地说,日复一日逐渐的去努力领悟,这些礼仪是如何发展形成的,有多少信德的经验寓意于弥撒礼仪的构成之中,多少代基督信徒以他们的祈祷建构了此弥撒礼仪,确实让人心潮澎湃。

 

3。和好圣事

 

和好圣事对我们的修道生活亦很重要。和好圣事教我以天主的眼光审视我自己,促使我真实地面对我自己。和好圣事引我趋向谦逊之德。亚尔斯的本堂神父,圣维亚内曾说:你们觉得今天接受神父的赦罪毫无意义,因为你们晓得,你们明天将重蹈覆辙。但是,天主自己眼下就先忘记了你们明天的罪过,为的是今天赋予你们圣宠。尽管我们总是要抵抗同样的错失和罪过,要紧的是,我们要警觉,勿使我们的灵魂变得好似脱缰的野马;也要注意抱着无所谓的态度,满足于现状。所以说,很重要的是,要有所顾忌地坚持上进,时常深怀感恩之情意识到,天主在不断地宽恕着我,但同时也要谨记,不能抱着无所谓的态度,不再追求圣善及成全。当我自己接受天主的宽恕时我也学习去宽恕别人。在这个过程中,我认知到自己的软弱卑劣,面对他人的弱点和不足时,也就能以包容和理解的态度对待之。

 

4。热心敬礼

 

你们应当致力维护民间虔敬习惯的意义,尽管大众的热心习惯因着文化不同而丰富多样,但总的说来还是具有其共同点,因为归根到底,人心总是一样的。诚然,民间的虔敬习俗有时会趋向于不理性的状态,或许有时甚至显得过于外在化。然而,忽视摒弃一切民间的虔敬习俗,却是绝对地错误。在这些民间的虔敬习俗中融汇着普通信徒内心深处的信德,这些热心习惯是他们感受经验的一部分,是他们生活习惯的组成部分,是大众普遍的感受及生活的固有因素。因此,民间的热心习俗无疑是教会丰富而又珍奇的瑰宝。信仰经由这些热心习俗而变得有血有肉,鲜明活现。当然,这些热心的习俗应时常受到教会的审视和甄别,使之不偏离教会的中心。这些热心的习俗很值得我们关注和热爱,热心的习俗以其真实的方式将我们聚集为“天主子民”。

 

5。知识与学习

 

修道院的陶成时期也是一个学习的时期。基督信仰有理性和悟性两个本质层面。没有此两种特性,基督信仰便不存在。圣保禄曾谈论到“训导的类型”,即我们因着洗礼而得到并参与其中。你们大概都知道圣伯多禄宗徒的这句话:“你们但要在心内尊崇基督为主;若有人询问你们心中所怀希望的理由,你们要时常准备答复”。中古世纪的神学家们正是基于这句话从理性及知识方面奠定了神学的架构。接受培育和陶成使自己有能力去答复,就是修道院生涯的主要任务。我只能恳切地请求你们:努力学习吧!善用这几年在修院的陶成时期!你们将不会懊悔!诚然,有时看起来,你们所学的科目和基督徒的实际生活及牧灵实践相差甚远。但如果因此就很目光短浅地问道:我能用上现在所学的吗?这些科目对我将来的牧灵实践工作有无用处啊?这些问题实在是一个偏差。学习掌握修道院所开设的科目,并非只是为眼下的用处,而是为了从整体上认识并理解我们的信仰的内部架构及其因素,使得我们能适宜得体地回答人们的询问,尽管各时代的人们所提的问题从其表面看,不断改颜换面,探究其最深之根源,仍是一样的问题。因此尤为重要的是,我们必须探察这些不断变换的问题之根本,以掌握最根本的问题所在,使得我们的答复紧扣问题,使人真正理解我们的答复。

 

知识范围

 

为此,修生们应当精深地熟悉整部圣经,且从旧新约的合一性来认识圣经,圣经文章的架构,文体的独特之处,圣经书目的形成,极富动力性的内在合一,这种内在的合一性并非浮现于圣经文章的表层,但却赋予每一部书圆满的意义。认识古代教父及历届大公会议的训导也很重要,教会将这些蕴含在教父及大公会议的训导中对圣经的注释深思默想,深信不疑地继承下来。这里,我能再继续列举:我们所说的信条,就是我们从整个信理的合一性及简洁性出发,对单个信仰内容的理解:每一单个的信条,说到底,均是对将自己启示于我们并不断显示自己于我们的天主的信仰的展现。对伦理神学所涉及的本质性问题及教会的社会训导要有深刻的了解,这一点我在此就不赘述了。在今天我们所处的时代,大公合一神学的重要性,也就是深刻了解不同的基督宗教团体,不言而喻。与此类似的对于几个大的宗教要有基本的了解。特别还有哲学:即对人类的寻求及问题的理解,而信仰则是对此寻求和问题的回应。

 

你们还应从教会法的内在必要性及实际运用原则应该学习教会法典,在这里,我甚至要说,你们要爱护教会法典:一个没有法律的社团将会是一个无章可循的社会。法律是爱的前提条件。我不愿在此继续列举了,唯想再说一次,你们要热爱学习神学,并在不断进取中始终清醒地认识到,神学必须依存于活的教会团体中,教会及其训导权威并非构成了神学的对立面,而是正统神学的前提。神学一旦脱离了深怀信德的教会便不能呼吸,无法生存,只能嬗变为由不同学术科目所组成的且没有内在合一性的学术集成。

 

6。人性成熟

 

在修道院的陶成时期也必须是一个人性渐趋成熟的时期。作为一位神父,一位陪伴他人善走人生之路直至生命的终结之人,极其重要的是,他自己必须在心灵和理解,理性和感受,肉体和灵魂达致优异的和谐及平衡以及人性方面的“无可指责”。因此,教会在传统上便将“超性之德”和由人的处世之道,由修养哲学而总结出的“四枢德”以及人类社会良性的伦理道德传统紧密结合。圣保禄宗徒言辞鲜明地对斐理伯人说:“此外,弟兄们!凡是真实的,凡是高尚的,凡是正义的,凡是纯洁的,凡是可爱的,凡是荣誉的,不管是美德,不管是称誉:这一切你们都该思念!”。

 

独身生活

 

与人性成熟关联的一个方面便是将性和完整的人格整合。性是创造者赐给我们的礼物,同时也是我们自己步向成熟的一个责任。如果人的性能力未能和其人格和谐地融和,性便会显得极具动物性和破坏性。在今天的社会中我们可以看到太多此类的事例。在最近的一段时期内,我们必须深感遗憾的承认,有些神父因着他们对孩童及青年的性侵犯使得司铎职务显得残损不洁。我们也怀着沉痛地认识到,本应引导大众趋向人性的成熟并且以自身为其典范,那些神父们却因着性侵犯而肇引了毁灭性的创伤。或许这一切让人遗憾的事实会引发人们质疑,或许你们自己也会提问,成为一位神父,这还是一个美好的事情吗?神父的独身生活是否是人生更有意义的方式呢?但是,尽管我们对性侵犯致以最强烈的谴责,我们仍不可鄙视神父伟大而又纯洁的使命。感谢天主,我们大家能看到那些令人信服的,由深厚的信德所塑造的神父,这些神父让我们清楚地认识到,一个人确实以神父的身份,而且以其独身的生活方式可以,且完全能够达致真正的,纯洁的及成熟的人性。这些不幸发生的性丑闻自然让我们更清醒并有意识地在步向司铎圣职的道路上,也在天主前真正从心灵深处问自己,成为一位神父真的是天主在我身上的旨意吗?你的听告解司铎及你们的负责人的任务则是,在你们决心要走的圣召道路上陪伴、帮助你们。你们圣召道路上的一个基本因素便是,在由基督启示给我们的天主内习练基本的为人之道以及不懈地从天主那里涤除你们的不洁。

 

7。圣召的多样性

 

与以前相比较,今天圣召的起因已经多样化及各不相同。很多时候,有些人已经在社会上具有相当的职业经验之后便决定走神父的道路。这些人的圣召萌生于一些教会团体之中,特别是一些新兴的灵修运动团体,这些团体的灵修精神促进人们共同与天主及教会相遇,深化人们的灵修经验并激发服务于传播信仰的热火。在亲身见闻人间的喜怒哀乐之中,圣召得以成熟。世界各大洲的修道生们经历着不同的灵修经验。所以,我们不易瞭望他们未来职务的共同点以及他们各自的灵修道路。正因此原因,修道院愈应成为一个有多样灵修方式的趋向司铎圣职的团体。新型的灵修运动团体真的很美好。你们大家知道,我是如何视这些运动为圣神对教会的恩赐而看重珍视他们。但是,各种灵修运动也必须自我反省,他们在多大程度上对整个普世教会,对耶稣基督的教会的生活持开放的态度,教会虽多采多姿,依然是一个教会。

 

修道院的陶成时期也是一个你们共同并彼此学习的时期。在可能出现的不易相处的境况下,你们必须懂得慷慨及包容,不只是相互忍让,而要彼此激励,共同进步,如此使得每人的天赋才能丰富团体的裨益,我们大家均是服务于同一的教会,服务于同一个主。修道院是一座习练包容的学校。但在修道院陶成期间一个甚为重要的因素便是,在和基督奥体的合一中习练接纳自己,认识自己。

 

亲爱的修道生们,通过这封信我切愿表明,我是如此的与你们在这复杂困难的时代同思共虑,在祈祷中我和你们紧紧相连。请你们也为我祈祷,使得我在主愿意的时期内正确明智地履行我的服务。我将你们走向司铎圣职的准备道路托给圣母玛丽亚的慈母关怀!她是一切美好之物及天主恩宠的所在。愿全能的天主,圣父,圣子,圣神降福你们!

 

20101018日,圣史路加瞻礼发自梵蒂冈

 

 

 

附:教宗本笃十六世为司铎年闭幕致函修道生,英文版全文如下:

 

Dear Seminarians,

 

When in December 1944 I was drafted for military service, the company commander asked each of us what we planned to do in the future. I answered that I wanted to become a Catholic priest. The lieutenant replied: "Then you ought to look for something else. In the new Germany priests are no longer needed". I knew that this "new Germany" was already coming to an end, and that, after the enormous devastation which that madness had brought upon the country, priests would be needed more than ever. Today the situation is completely changed. In different ways, though, many people nowadays also think that the Catholic priesthood is not a "job" for the future, but one that belongs more to the past. You, dear friends, have decided to enter the seminary and to prepare for priestly ministry in the Catholic Church in spite of such opinions and objections. You have done a good thing. Because people will always have need of God, even in an age marked by technical mastery of the world and globalization: they will always need the God who has revealed himself in Jesus Christ, the God who gathers us together in the universal Church in order to learn with him and through him life’s true meaning and in order to uphold and apply the standards of true humanity. Where people no longer perceive God, life grows empty; nothing is ever enough. People then seek escape in euphoria and violence; these are the very things that increasingly threaten young people. God is alive. He has created every one of us and he knows us all. He is so great that he has time for the little things in our lives: "Every hair of your head is numbered". God is alive, and he needs people to serve him and bring him to others. It does makes sense to become a priest: the world needs priests, pastors, today, tomorrow and always, until the end of time.

 

The seminary is a community journeying towards priestly ministry. I have said something very important here: one does not become a priest on one’s own. The "community of disciples" is essential, the fellowship of those who desire to serve the greater Church. In this letter I would like to point out – thinking back to my own time in the seminary – several elements which I consider important for these years of your journeying.

 

1. Anyone who wishes to become a priest must be first and foremost a "man of God", to use the expression of Saint Paul (1 Tim 6:11). For us God is not some abstract hypothesis; he is not some stranger who left the scene after the "big bang". God has revealed himself in Jesus Christ. In the face of Jesus Christ we see the face of God. In his words we hear God himself speaking to us. It follows that the most important thing in our path towards priesthood and during the whole of our priestly lives is our personal relationship with God in Jesus Christ. The priest is not the leader of a sort of association whose membership he tries to maintain and expand. He is God’s messenger to his people. He wants to lead them to God and in this way to foster authentic communion between all men and women. That is why it is so important, dear friends, that you learn to live in constant intimacy with God. When the Lord tells us to "pray constantly", he is obviously not asking us to recite endless prayers, but urging us never to lose our inner closeness to God. Praying means growing in this intimacy. So it is important that our day should begin and end with prayer; that we listen to God as the Scriptures are read; that we share with him our desires and our hopes, our joys and our troubles, our failures and our thanks for all his blessings, and thus keep him ever before us as the point of reference for our lives. In this way we grow aware of our failings and learn to improve, but we also come to appreciate all the beauty and goodness which we daily take for granted and so we grow in gratitude. With gratitude comes joy for the fact that God is close to us and that we can serve him.

 

2. For us God is not simply Word. In the sacraments he gives himself to us in person, through physical realities. At the heart of our relationship with God and our way of life is the Eucharist. Celebrating it devoutly, and thus encountering Christ personally, should be the centre of all our days. In Saint Cyprian’s interpretation of the Gospel prayer, "Give us this day our daily bread", he says among other things that "our" bread – the bread which we receive as Christians in the Church – is the Eucharistic Lord himself. In this petition of the Our Father, then, we pray that he may daily give us "our" bread; and that it may always nourish our lives; that the Risen Christ, who gives himself to us in the Eucharist, may truly shape the whole of our lives by the radiance of his divine love. The proper celebration of the Eucharist involves knowing, understanding and loving the Church’s liturgy in its concrete form. In the liturgy we pray with the faithful of every age – the past, the present and the future are joined in one great chorus of prayer. As I can state from personal experience, it is inspiring to learn how it all developed, what a great experience of faith is reflected in the structure of the Mass, and how it has been shaped by the prayer of many generations.

 

3. The sacrament of Penance is also important. It teaches me to see myself as God sees me, and it forces me to be honest with myself. It leads me to humility. The Curé of Ars once said: "You think it makes no sense to be absolved today, because you know that tomorrow you will commit the same sins over again. Yet," he continues, "God instantly forgets tomorrow’s sins in order to give you his grace today." Even when we have to struggle continually with the same failings, it is important to resist the coarsening of our souls and the indifference which would simply accept that this is the way we are. It is important to keep pressing forward, without scrupulosity, in the grateful awareness that God forgives us ever anew – yet also without the indifference that might lead us to abandon altogether the struggle for holiness and self-improvement. Moreover, by letting myself be forgiven, I learn to forgive others. In recognizing my own weakness, I grow more tolerant and understanding of the failings of my neighbour.

 

4. I urge you to retain an appreciation for popular piety, which is different in every culture yet always remains very similar, for the human heart is ultimately one and the same. Certainly, popular piety tends towards the irrational, and can at times be somewhat superficial. Yet it would be quite wrong to dismiss it. Through that piety, the faith has entered human hearts and become part of the common patrimony of sentiments and customs, shaping the life and emotions of the community. Popular piety is thus one of the Church’s great treasures. The faith has taken on flesh and blood. Certainly popular piety always needs to be purified and refocused, yet it is worthy of our love and it truly makes us into the "People of God".

 

5. Above all, your time in the seminary is also a time of study. The Christian faith has an essentially rational and intellectual dimension. Were it to lack that dimension, it would not be itself. Paul speaks of a "standard of teaching" to which we were entrusted in Baptism (Rom 6:17). All of you know the words of Saint Peter which the medieval theologians saw as the justification for a rational and scientific theology: "Always be ready to make your defence to anyone who demands from you an ‘accounting’ (logos) for the hope that is in you" (1 Pet 3:15). Learning how to make such a defence is one of the primary responsibilities of your years in the seminary. I can only plead with you: Be committed to your studies! Take advantage of your years of study! You will not regret it. Certainly, the subjects which you are studying can often seem far removed from the practice of the Christian life and the pastoral ministry. Yet it is completely mistaken to start questioning their practical value by asking: Will this be helpful to me in the future? Will it be practically or pastorally useful? The point is not simply to learn evidently useful things, but to understand and appreciate the internal structure of the faith as a whole, so that it can become a response to people’s questions, which on the surface change from one generation to another yet ultimately remain the same. For this reason it is important to move beyond the changing questions of the moment in order to grasp the real questions, and so to understand how the answers are real answers. It is important to have a thorough knowledge of sacred Scripture as a whole, in its unity as the Old and the New Testaments: the shaping of texts, their literary characteristics, the process by which they came to form the canon of sacred books, their dynamic inner unity, a unity which may not be immediately apparent but which in fact gives the individual texts their full meaning. It is important to be familiar with the Fathers and the great Councils in which the Church appropriated, through faith-filled reflection, the essential statements of Scripture. I could easily go on. What we call dogmatic theology is the understanding of the individual contents of the faith in their unity, indeed, in their ultimate simplicity: each single element is, in the end, only an unfolding of our faith in the one God who has revealed himself to us and continues to do so. I do not need to point out the importance of knowing the essential issues of moral theology and Catholic social teaching. The importance nowadays of ecumenical theology, and of a knowledge of the different Christian communities, is obvious; as is the need for a basic introduction to the great religions, to say nothing of philosophy: the understanding of that human process of questioning and searching to which faith seeks to respond. But you should also learn to understand and – dare I say it – to love canon law, appreciating how necessary it is and valuing its practical applications: a society without law would be a society without rights. Law is the condition of love. I will not go on with this list, but I simply say once more: love the study of theology and carry it out in the clear realization that theology is anchored in the living community of the Church, which, with her authority, is not the antithesis of theological science but its presupposition. Cut off from the believing Church, theology would cease to be itself and instead it would become a medley of different disciplines lacking inner unity.

 

6. Your years in the seminary should also be a time of growth towards human maturity. It is important for the priest, who is called to accompany others through the journey of life up to the threshold of death, to have the right balance of heart and mind, reason and feeling, body and soul, and to be humanly integrated. To the theological virtues the Christian tradition has always joined the cardinal virtues derived from human experience and philosophy, and, more generally, from the sound ethical tradition of humanity. Paul makes this point this very clearly to the Philippians: "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things" (4:8). This also involves the integration of sexuality into the whole personality. Sexuality is a gift of the Creator yet it is also a task which relates to a person’s growth towards human maturity. When it is not integrated within the person, sexuality becomes banal and destructive. Today we can see many examples of this in our society. Recently we have seen with great dismay that some priests disfigured their ministry by sexually abusing children and young people. Instead of guiding people to greater human maturity and setting them an example, their abusive behaviour caused great damage for which we feel profound shame and regret. As a result of all this, many people, perhaps even some of you, might ask whether it is good to become a priest; whether the choice of celibacy makes any sense as a truly human way of life. Yet even the most reprehensible abuse cannot discredit the priestly mission, which remains great and pure. Thank God, all of us know exemplary priests, men shaped by their faith, who bear witness that one can attain to an authentic, pure and mature humanity in this state and specifically in the life of celibacy. Admittedly, what has happened should make us all the more watchful and attentive, precisely in order to examine ourselves earnestly, before God, as we make our way towards priesthood, so as to understand whether this is his will for me. It is the responsibility of your confessor and your superiors to accompany you and help you along this path of discernment. It is an essential part of your journey to practise the fundamental human virtues, with your gaze fixed on the God who has revealed himself in Christ, and to let yourselves be purified by him ever anew.

 

7. The origins of a priestly vocation are nowadays more varied and disparate than in the past. Today the decision to become a priest often takes shape after one has already entered upon a secular profession. Often it grows within the Communities, particularly within the Movements, which favour a communal encounter with Christ and his Church, spiritual experiences and joy in the service of the faith. It also matures in very personal encounters with the nobility and the wretchedness of human existence. As a result, candidates for the priesthood often live on very different spiritual continents. It can be difficult to recognize the common elements of one’s future mandate and its spiritual path. For this very reason, the seminary is important as a community which advances above and beyond differences of spirituality. The Movements are a magnificent thing. You know how much I esteem them and love them as a gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church. Yet they must be evaluated by their openness to what is truly Catholic, to the life of the whole Church of Christ, which for all her variety still remains one. The seminary is a time when you learn with one another and from one another. In community life, which can at times be difficult, you should learn generosity and tolerance, not only bearing with, but also enriching one another, so that each of you will be able to contribute his own gifts to the whole, even as all serve the same Church, the same Lord. This school of tolerance, indeed, of mutual acceptance and mutual understanding in the unity of Christ’s Body, is an important part of your years in the seminary.

 

Dear seminarians, with these few lines I have wanted to let you know how often I think of you, especially in these difficult times, and how close I am to you in prayer. Please pray for me, that I may exercise my ministry well, as long as the Lord may wish. I entrust your journey of preparation for priesthood to the maternal protection of Mary Most Holy, whose home was a school of goodness and of grace. May Almighty God bless you all, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

 

From the Vatican, 18 October 2010, the Feast of Saint Luke the Evangelist.

 

Yours devotedly in the Lord,

 

BENEDICTUS PP. XVI