In this area the traditional contexts of catechesis do not suffice – lessons, lectures, Bible and theology courses – but it is necessary to open ourselves to the other
new areopaghi of global culture.
In addition to the press, radio and television, there should be more frequent recourse to e-mail, internet sites, webpages and video-conferences and to many other
recent systems in order to communicate the kerygma effectively to a large number of people. The pastor’s very presence, bearing and behaviour, which results from his own “being”, must constitute a catechesis for one
There may have been times when we underestimated this aspect Which people appreciate and which, if it is an expression of content, is not formalism but rather a
suitable way of conveying substance.
b) Another context for this witnessing is the promotion of the Church’s charitable institutions which can carry out a valuable service for the weakest and most
deprived people at various levels.
“If the persons [you] encounter are living in poverty; it is necessary to help them; as the first Christian communities did, by
practising solidarity and making them feel truly loved”, the Pontiff said at the above-mentioned Meeting (Cathedral of S?, 11 May, ibid., n: 3)
“We must denounce those, who squander the earth’s riches, provoking inequalities that cry out to heaven (cf. Jas 5:4)”, Benedict
XVI wrote. He continued: “the Lord Jesus, the Bread of eternal life, spurs us to be mindful of the situations of extreme poverty in with a great part, of humanity still lives: these ate situations for which human
beings bear a clear and disquieting responsibility” (Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Sacramen -tum Caritatis, n. 90)
Support of the culture of life. Priests; in communion with their own Bishops, are called to foster everywhere a culture of life which, as Paul VI asserted, makes possible “the
passage from misery towards the possession of necessities”, to “the acquisition of culture… cooperation for the common good... the acknowledgment by man of supreme values;
and of God their source and their finality” (Encyclical Letter, Papulorum Progressio, n. 21).
In this regard; in the formation of lay faithful it would be necessary to stress ,that authentic development must, be integral; in other words, it must be directed to
the promotion of the whole man and of all men, suggesting the necessary means to do away with the serious social inequalities and the great disparity in access to goods.
The formation of the lay faithful. Formed at the school of the Eucharist, they should be increasingly encouraged and helped to assume their political and social responsibilities directly, consistent with and motivated by, their Baptism.
All baptized men and women must become aware that in the Church they have been configured to Christ the Priest, Prophet and Pastor, through the common priesthood of the
faithful. They must feel co-responsible in building society in accordance with the criteria of the Gospel and, in particular, with the Church’s social doctrine.
“This teaching, the fruit .of the Church’s whole history, is distinguished by realism and moderation; it can help to avoid
misguided compromises or false utopias” (Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Sacramentum Caritatis, n. 91).
As the Petrine Magisterium has several times reminded the lay faithful, incumbent upon them is the special responsibility to change unjust structures and to erect just
ones, producing the necessary consensus on moral values and the strength to live in accordance with the model of these values (cf. Benedict XVI, Inaugural Address at the opening session of the Fifth General
Conference of the Latin American and Caribbean Bishops’ Conferences, 13 May 2007, n. 4; ORE, 16 May, p. 18).
Support of the family. All priests are called to support the Christian family by encouraging – in various ways, according to the different vocational charisms and the mission entrusted to you – a satisfactory organic pastoral care of the family in the respective ecclesial communities (cf. John Paul II, Novo Millennio Ineunte, n. 47).
Especially important is the need to sustain the value of the oneness of marriage as a life-long union between a man and a woman in which, as husband and wife, they
share in God’s loving work of creation.
Unfortunately, numerous political doctrines and currents of thought are continuing to fuel a culture that damages human dignity by ignoring or blighting, to a varying
degree, the truth about marriage and about the family. The priest must tirelessly proclaim in Christ’s name that the family, as the teacher of people par excellence, is indispensable for a true “human ecology” (cf, John Paul II, Centesimus Annus, n. 39).
3. Rejoicing to raise
the cup of salvation and call
upon the Name of the Lord
(cf. Ps 116:12-13)
John Paul II exclaimed in his Letter to Priests for Holy Thursday 2002: “How marvellous is this vocation of ours, my dear Brother
Priests! Truly we can repeat with the Psalmist: ‘What shall I render to the Lord for all his bounty to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call upon the name of
the Lord’ (Ps 116:12-13)”
This chalice is the cup of blessing (I Cor 10:16), the cup of the new covenant (cf. Lk 22:20; I Cor 11:25).
Oh this St Basil comments: “So what shall I render to the Lord? Neither sacrifices nor holocausts... but my entire life. This is why the Psalmist says: “I will lift up the cup of salvation, describing as a cup suffering in the spiritual combat and resistance to sin until death” (Homily on Psalm 116: PG XXX. 109.
As many holy priests experienced in the heroic exercise of their ministry, we are likewise invited to find in the Eucharist the necessary strength to witness to the
Truth without weakening, irenicisms, “without false compromises, so as not to water down the Gospel!”, as Benedict XVI recalled at his meeting with the German Bishops
(Address at the Archdiocesan Seminary, Cologne, 21 August 2005; ORE, 31 August 2005, p. 3).
In societies and cultures that are all too often closed to transcendence, stifled by consumeristic behaviour and enslaved by old and new forms of idolatry, we
rediscover with amazement the meaning of the Eucharistic Mystery.
Let us renew our liturgical celebrations so that they may be more eloquent signs of Christ’s presence in our Dioceses, particularly in our parishes; let us guarantee
new spaces to silence, prayer and adoring contemplation of the Eucharist, to have within us a true and vibrant missionary spirit.
John Paul II said to our Brother Prelates from Portugal, “As sentinels of God’s House, see that all ecclesial life reflects in a
way the twofold rhythm of Holy Mass with the liturgy of the word and the Eucharistic liturgy. Take as your example the case of the disciples on the road to Emmaus, who only recognized Jesus in the breaking of the
Bread (cf. Lk 24:13-35)” (Address to Portuguese Bishops on a visit ad Limina Apostolorum, n. 6, 30 November 1999; ORE, 15 December 1999, p. 10).
In the Eucharist lies the secret of the fidelity and perseverance of our faithful, the safety and soundness of our Ecclesial Communities among the afflictions and
difficulties of the world. In our pastoral work that consists of words and Sacrament, let us avoid the pitfalls of activism, of doing for the sake of doing and, by bringing the Bread of eternal life, we will counter
the attacks of laicism and secularism in which Christ has neither a voice nor a place.
Let us think of the missionary importance of our parishes which are, as it were, the connective tissue of our dioceses (cf CIC, can. 374, 1).
Let us think of every parish which is a comunitas Christifidelium but it cannot be so unless it is a Eucharistic community open to those farthest away; in other words,
unless it is a Community properly suited, in a spirit of mission, for celebrating the Eucharist, the living source of its upbuilding and the sacramental bond of its being, in full communion with the whole Church
(cf. John Paul II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Christifideles Laici, 30 December 1988, n. 26; ORE, 6 February 1989, n. 6, p.8).
Let us think of parish priests who can only be ordained priests because what they say and do in the Eucharistic liturgy and in the liturgy of the Word, they cannot do
or say “in proprio”, “on their own”; indeed, they act and speak “in persona Christi capitis”.
Let us think of all of the priests, young and elderly, healthy and sick who, in rediscovering the radical gift of themselves inherent in their ordained ministry, can
repeat with John Paul II: “The time has come to speak courageously about priestly life as a priceless gift and a splendid and privileged form of Christian living” (Post-Synodal
Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Oabo Vobis, n. 39).
Thus, the Church of the World and of the Sacraments will necessarily be the church of the unflagging exercise of the priestly ministry; she will be the Church of the
holy priest, the priest who loves from the bottom of his heart and with his whole being the call he has received from the Teacher to act at every moment as ipse Christus.
Benedict XVI said recently, in his Address to the members of the Bishops’ Conference of Quebec, Canada, on a visit ad limina Apostolorum (11 May 2006), “However, the decline in the number of priests... in certain places, disconcertingly calls into question the place of sacramentality in the life of the Church. The needs of pastoral
organization must not compromise the authenticity of the ecclesiology that is expressed in it. The central role of the priest, who teaches, sanctifies and governs the community in persona Christi capitis, must not
be minimized. The ministerial priesthood is indispensable to the existence of an, ecclesial community. The importance of the role of lay people, whose generous service to the Christian communities I acknowledge,
must never overshadow the ministry of priests, which is absolutely indispensable to the life of the Church” (ORE, 24 May 2006, p.3).
Let us priests be concerned to make our true ontological identity shine out and to exercise a joyful ministry even amid the worst difficulties, an ardent missionary
ministry because it derives from our identity.
Together with all the faithful, let us make sure that we pray tirelessly to the Lord of the harvest to send workers to his harvest. Vocations exist but we must
encourage a positive response with these means, the means the Lord has taught us and no others.
This is the Church which we would like to see flourishing anew and producing new fruit in her vitality and work. She is the Church of the divine mission, the Church in
Let us turn to Mary, Queen of the Apostles and Mother of priests. Let us entrust ourselves, our pastoral ministry and every priest to her. May she help us, in imitation
of her, to be tabernacles and monstrances of Jesus the Good Shepherd!