In his first Advent reflection for Pope Benedict XVI and members of the Roman Curia, Father Raniero Cantalamessa, Preacher of the Pontifical Household, warned that a threat exists today that, “because of the low number of priests, affects the clergy and the entire Church: it’s called frenetic activism.”
Using the writings of Abbot Chautard as inspiration for his reflection, Father Cantalamessa said that in order to understand how to follow Christ, one must journey down a path founded upon “a personal relationship that is full of trust and friendship with the person of Jesus,” who is the soul of every priesthood.
Referring to Chautard’s book, “The Soul of Every Apostolate,” the papal preacher underscored that the work was published just a few years before Vatican II, “in a period in which there was great enthusiasm for parish work.” The book addressed “the heart of the problem, denouncing the danger of an empty activism.”
Chautard wrote: “God wants Jesus to be life of our works.” For this reason, in reflecting on the need for priests to be servers of Christ, Father Cantalamessa remarked, “On the invisible passport of the priest where ‘profession’ is listed, one ought to read: servant of Jesus Christ’.”
The essential service of the priest to the Lord Jesus is thus “to continue His work in the world,” by being a witness to the truth, the saving will and the love of God for man.”
According to L’Osservatore Romano, Father Cantalamessa also explained that communicating Christ to others does not mean being his successors, as “Jesus has no successors, because He is not dead, He is alive.”
In his work the priest must strive to make man become friends with God, he continued, citing the passage in which the Lord calls His disciples “friends” and not servants.
He concluded his reflection emphasizing the importance of prayer in the life of the priest, as only with an intense prayer life can a priest be fully dedicated to his pastoral work.