.- The prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, Cardinal Claudio Hummes celebrated Mass in Ars, France today to mark the feast of St. Jean Marie Vianney. In his homily, he said that by celebrating the Year for Priests on the 150th anniversary of the saint’s death, Pope Benedict XVI hopes the spirit that pervades this jubilee year will be one of sanctification.
At the Shrine dedicated to the Cure d’Ars, with Bishop Guy Marie Bagnard and numerous priests concelebrating, Cardinal Hummes underscored that the Church “desires to say to priests that she thanks God for them, she admires them and loves them, she wants to sustain them with her prayers, she accompanies them in their journey of fidelity, she recognizes them, she wants to concretely help them and collaborate with them in their pastoral work.”
After noting that the priests of the world have a date with the Holy Father June 9-10, 2010 at the International Congress in Rome, Cardinal Hummes underscored the example of the Cure d’Ars, whose life was “rich with teachings.”
“He was a model priest because of his life of faith and constant prayer, because of his profound and solid spirituality, his penitence, his humility and poverty, his manner of placing the celebration of the Mass at the center of parish life, his untiring and marvelous ministry of the sacrament of Confession, his ministry of the Word of God for preaching and catechesis, his love for the poor, his pastoral charity which led him to an encounter with each parishioner to lead him or her towards conversion and salvation.”
St. Jean Marie Vianney, the cardinal added, “did not want to lose anybody and did not want to rest without first seeing everyone in church, assiduously and frequently receiving the sacraments.”
“Thus we priests,” he continued, “for the mere sake of our ordination, are all consecrated to participating in the universal mission of the Son of God, Jesus Christ. It is our priestly and missionary essence. With the task of adapting ourselves to the specific needs of our age, we are ‘sent’ to proclaim the Good News to all men, in particular, as did the Cure d’Ars, to the baptized that have strayed from the light of the faith, beginning with those who are poorest.”
After pointing out that priests cannot limit themselves to their parish but must go out in search of the faithful, Cardinal Hummes underscored the importance of assisting them in the sacrament of Confession because “still today, certainly, our contemporaries seek forgiveness, interior peace, reconciliation with God and neighbor, but frequently they do not find the person to show them the way or who understands them in their confusion. This is truly an essential ministry of every priest,” he said.
At the conclusion of his homily, Cardinal Hummes invited those present “to make of their families true domestic churches, ardent lights of faith and love, where they pray together. Do not be afraid if the Lord chooses one of your sons to be a priest. Strive instead to pray to the Lord for the grace of a priestly vocation in your family.”