Rorate Caeli

The Priest, called to be a Friend of Christ


"Non iam dicam servos, sed amicos" - "I no longer call you servants, but friends" (cf. Jn 15:15).

Sixty years on from the day of my priestly ordination, I hear once again deep within me these words of Jesus that were addressed to us new priests at the end of the ordination ceremony by the Archbishop, Cardinal Faulhaber, in his slightly frail yet firm voice. According to the liturgical practice of that time, these words conferred on the newly-ordained priests the authority to forgive sins. "No longer servants, but friends": at that moment I knew deep down that these words were no mere formality, nor were they simply a quotation from Scripture. I knew that, at that moment, the Lord himself was speaking to me in a very personal way. In baptism and confirmation he had already drawn us close to him, he had already received us into God’s family. But what was taking place now was something greater still. He calls me his friend. He welcomes me into the circle of those he had spoken to in the Upper Room, into the circle of those whom he knows in a very special way, and who thereby come to know him in a very special way. He grants me the almost frightening faculty to do what only he, the Son of God, can legitimately say and do: I forgive you your sins. He wants me – with his authority – to be able to speak, in his name ("I" forgive), words that are not merely words, but an action, changing something at the deepest level of being. I know that behind these words lies his suffering for us and on account of us. I know that forgiveness comes at a price: in his Passion he went deep down into the sordid darkness of our sins. He went down into the night of our guilt, for only thus can it be transformed. And by giving me authority to forgive sins, he lets me look down into the abyss of man, into the immensity of his suffering for us men, and this enables me to sense the immensity of his love. He confides in me: "No longer servants, but friends". He entrusts to me the words of consecration in the Eucharist. He trusts me to proclaim his word, to explain it aright and to bring it to the people of today. He entrusts himself to me. "You are no longer servants, but friends": these words bring great inner joy, but at the same time, they are so awe-inspiring that one can feel daunted as the decades go by amid so many experiences of one’s own frailty and his inexhaustible goodness.

"No longer servants, but friends": this saying contains within itself the entire programme of a priestly life. What is friendship? Idem velle, idem nolle – wanting the same things, rejecting the same things: this was how it was expressed in antiquity. Friendship is a communion of thinking and willing. The Lord says the same thing to us most insistently: "I know my own and my own know me" (Jn 10:14). The Shepherd calls his own by name (cf. Jn 10:3). He knows me by name. I am not just some nameless being in the infinity of the universe. He knows me personally. Do I know him? The friendship that he bestows upon me can only mean that I too try to know him better; that in the Scriptures, in the Sacraments, in prayer, in the communion of saints, in the people who come to me, sent by him, I try to come to know the Lord himself more and more. Friendship is not just about knowing someone, it is above all a communion of the will. It means that my will grows into ever greater conformity with his will. For his will is not something external and foreign to me, something to which I more or less willingly submit or else refuse to submit. No, in friendship, my will grows together with his will, and his will becomes mine: this is how I become truly myself. Over and above communion of thinking and willing, the Lord mentions a third, new element: he gives his life for us (cf. Jn 15:13; 10:15). Lord, help me to come to know you more and more. Help me to be ever more at one with your will. Help me to live my life not for myself, but in union with you to live it for others. Help me to become ever more your friend.
...

Sixty years of priestly ministry – dear friends, perhaps I have spoken for too long about this. But I felt prompted at this moment to look back upon the things that have left their mark on the last six decades. I felt prompted to address to you, to all priests and bishops and to the faithful of the Church, a word of hope and encouragement; a word that has matured in long experience of how good the Lord is. Above all, though, it is a time of thanksgiving: thanks to the Lord for the friendship that he has bestowed upon me and that he wishes to bestow upon us all. Thanks to the people who have formed and accompanied me. And all this includes the prayer that the Lord will one day welcome us in his goodness and invite us to contemplate his joy. Amen.
Benedict XVI
June 29, 2011
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Congratulations to all new Priests ordained today and during this month throughout the world!

Félicitations à tous les nouveaux prêtres ordonnés aujourd'hui et dans ce mois partout dans le monde!

19 comments:

Mr. Ortiz said...

There is great sanctity in the heart of the man who speaks these wonderful words.

We must pray and sacrifice even more for him, every day.

Jon said...

For those of you readers who are members of the FSSP's Confraternity of St. Peter, please remember today the Church grants a plenary indulgence to you for merely praying for this good and holy man.

LeonG said...

Praying for the pope should be a normal daily procedure. I sometimes chant the blessing for him in my Liber.

While he is no doubt a good man, I suggest we refrain from this over-liberal usage of alleged holiness. This is a term which is far too easily applied in this post-conciliar period. In fact, it has almost lost its real signification, from a Roman Catholic perspective.

For example, we may have referred to Pope Paul VI (RIP) as The Holy Father but realistically speaking was he holy? There are still certainly legitimate doubts about the last pontiff inspite of the formal beatification procedure being administered because we were being told to ignore his pontificate in favour of his inner-being and so-called state of holiness. Many of us missed that one

New Catholic said...

So, we should call him what? Just "Father"? What if he is not particularly paternal? "Joe"?

Anonymous said...

Even Alexander VI we ought to call Holy Father.

Anonymous said...

"Even Alexander VI we ought to call Holy Father"

"Even"? Alexander Vi was one of the greatest Popes the Church has had, as far as the government of the Church, international diplomacy, the promotion of the faith, of liturgy and Marian devotion and are concerned. He increased the splendor of Rome (e.g Castel Sant'Angelo), and restored order in town and in the Papal States, and promoted arts and science. While by no means a saint, the Protestant and Illuminst black legends about him are mostly based on stupid exaggerations, and we should despise them.

Anonymous said...

The etiology of "papacy, pope", etc. is: pater patrium: father of
fathers. Indeed, he is the univeral Father for all.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful, touching, words from the Holy Father on the holiness of friendship with Our Lord!

Barbara

Anonymous said...

I think his sermon was wonderful, but then, what does this "pious" fool Delphina know?

Mr. Ortiz, you have the right idea.

Delphina

J. G. Ratkaj said...

...
"Even"? Alexander Vi was one of the greatest Popes the Church has had, as far as the government of the Church, international diplomacy, the promotion of the faith, of liturgy and Marian devotion and are concerned. He increased the splendor of Rome (e.g Castel Sant'Angelo), and restored order in town and in the Papal States, and promoted arts and science. While by no means a saint, the Protestant and Illuminst black legends about him are mostly based on stupid exaggerations, and we should despise them.
...

I can barely enough expressly underline this your statement concerning Pope Alexander VI Borgia. Numerous historians- far away from beeing apologists, often not catholics at all- have falsified the legende noire.
See for example: Pingiotti, L., La Leggenda Nera di Papa Borgia, erona 2008. http://libroco.it/cgi-bin/dettaglio.cgi/codiceweb=908941841316848/9788889913888/La-Leggenda-Nera-di-Papa-Borgia/Pingiotti--Lorenzo/Fede---Cultura.html
But truth is not requuested, defamation a fortiori desired. However I thank you for your wise remark!

I am not Spartacus said...

Dear Jon. I am a member of the Confraternity and The FFSP Priests I know are fantastic.

As for this Pope, I pray a rosary for him every day.

As an aside to New Catholic - I want to write that this site has become the first Catholic Site I visit every day. I absolutely love it.

Thank you and God Bless you for all of your labor and love.

New Catholic said...

Thank you for your very kind words, I am not Spartacus.

Some living in the Western Hemisphere may also be reminded that there may be still time to gain a PLENARY indulgence today, Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, in the usual conditions, by praying a Pater and a Credo in a Cathedral or Minor Basilica.

Prof. Basto said...

CONGRATULATIONS, HOLY FATHER!

Ad multos, multos annos!

Anonymous said...

As I read this, word for word, I wondered who this incredible priest was, how such humility and grace could have been hidden away in some obscure parish? Then I reached the signature block.

Thanks to the webmaster for posting this. Otherwise I would never have been touched by these words. In a rational world, this would have been the front page of every Sunday paper.

LeonG said...

Holy Father is a title but not demonstrative necessarily of holiness.

Prof. Basto said...

LeonG,

I would say that the title is just, because the office of Pope is ontologically a Fatherly office, and the office is Holy and exalted.

So the Popes are institutionally always Holy Fathers, even when they are not personnally holy.

The person of the Pope is always the Successor of Peter, the Vicar of Christ, endowed in an all particular manner with the "graces of State", the charism, that comes from the Holy Spirit, so that the person of the Pope is always sacred, and in that sense the Pope is always "Holy"; and he is a Father to all the Pastors and to all the faithful, he is the "Father of Princes and Kings", and he is a Father because he is a Priest of the Lord.

So the title is appropriate even if personnaly the incumbent were lacking in holiness, or in father-like attitudes.

Anonymous said...

LeonG said...

Holy Father is a title but not demonstrative necessarily of holiness.

30 June, 2011 13:14

AMEN! and AMEN! and AMEN! How many Catholics attribute holiness to the occupant of the office rather than to the office itself, Prof. Basto? Is not the recent beatification an example of this?

LtCol Paul E. Haley, USAF(Ret)

LeonG said...

That is exactly what is being said - it is a title only and does not automatically confer holiness as a personal characteristic. There is the Holy See but is everyone concerned there holy? It would be absurd to claim so.
Going further, to suggest the current pope is holy is premature in its assumptions.

Mr. Ortiz said...

Leon,

We can read.