Today, the fourth Sunday of Easter and the 43rd World Day of Prayer for Vocations, the Pope presided at a Eucharistic celebration in the Vatican Basilica, conferring priestly ordination on 13 deacons of the diocese of Rome and on two religious of the Order of Discalced Carmelites.

n his homily, the Pope referred to the figure of Christ the Good Shepherd, Who gives His life for His flock, humankind, Who recognizes them and is recognized by them, and Who remains at the service of unity.

The priestly spirit, said Pope Benedict, is opposed to “careerism, the attempt to arrive ‘high up’, to seek out a position through the Church, serve oneself and not serve others. This is the image of a man who, through the priesthood, seeks to become important and famous”. Yet, he added, “the only legitimate ascent towards the ministry of the shepherd is the cross. That is the door”.

To be a priest, the Pope affirmed, is not “to desire to be someone important, …but to live for others, for Christ, and through Him and with Him to live for the men and women He seeks, whom He wants to lead along the path of life”.

“We enter the priesthood through a Sacrament,” said the Holy Father, “and this means through the total donation of self to Christ, so that He may use me as He wishes, so that I serve Him and follow His call even when this contrasts with my own desires for self-fulfillment and respect. To enter by the door, which is Christ, means knowing Him and loving Him ever more deeply, that our will may unite with His and our action become one with His action.”

The Pope highlighted the importance for priests of “the daily Eucharist,” which “must become a school of life for us, one in which we learn to donate our lives.”

He also underlined the importance of “a practical and concrete knowledge of the people entrusted to us. … The pastor cannot be content with remembering names and dates, his knowledge must also be a knowledge of the heart. This, however, is only fully possible if the Lord has opened our own hearts”.

Benedict XVI concluded by emphasizing how priests “must concern themselves with everyone”, especially “those who believe and live with the Church”, but also with “bringing God’s invitation to His banquet to those men and women who have still not heard of it”