23 September 2012
Recently, the letter of Saint Paul, 1 Corinthians 13 (Encouragements-78) was being read in Holy Mass and a wise and elderly Priest gave the sermon; we have summarized part of it to be published only, as we are concerned about possible misinterpretation if the reader does not come from a Christianity background:
What is Jesus liked?
GOD is LOVE (1 John 4:16), Jesus Christ is fully Man and fully God, thus JESUS is LOVE. When we replace “Love” with “Jesus” in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, this is what we have:
Jesus is always patient and kind; Jesus is never jealous; Jesus is not boastful or conceited,
Jesus is never rude and never seeks his own advantage, Jesus does not take offence or store up grievances.
Jesus does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but finds his joy in the truth.
Jesus is always ready to make allowances, to trust, to hope and to endure whatever comes.
Jesus never fails.
Don’t you think our Jesus is wonderful? 8-)
23 September 2012
29 September 2012
ADDRESS OF JOHN PAUL II
TO THE PRIESTS AND SEMINARIANS OF NIGERIA
Saturday, 13 February 1982
Dear brother priests, my dear seminarians,
“May the peace of Christ reign in your hearts”.
I am particularly happy to meet you today, priests and seminarians of Nigeria. You are called to be the immediate co-workers of your bishops. On you, to a large extent, depends the work of evangelization in this land. Permit me to share with you some thoughts on the sacred ministry of the priesthood.
1. The priest is sent by Christ and his Church to proclaim the Gospel of salvation, above all in the celebration of the Eucharist. The priest is ordained to offer the Sacrifice of the Mass, and thus to renew the Paschal Mystery of our Lord Jesus Christ. As a minister of Christ, the priest is called to sanctify the People of God by word and sacrament. He shares the pastoral solicitude of the Good Shepherd, which is frequently expressed in prayer for the flock. As priests, you and I are called to preach and teach the word of God with clarity, lively faith and personal commitment, with orthodoxy, and love. We are called to gather the People of God together, to build the Body of the Church. In accordance with the will of Christ, the priest carries out his apostolate under the leadership of his bishop and in union with his brother priests.
2. Your young Church in Nigeria is full of life and vigour. With apostolic dynamism your missionary priests laid strong foundations through prayer, diligence, chastity and dedication in charity. The local priests and bishops have taken up the mission and consolidated it. Right now you have many initiatives under way to make the Church more and more at home in your culture. I praise you for the harmony with which the Nigerian diocesan priests, the missionary priests and the Nigerian religious priests work together to advance the Kingdom of Christ.
3. I understand well that most of you are grossly overworked. Some of you parish priests have ten thousand Catholics to serve; some of you may have even many more. There may even be fifteen outstations to a single priest. Most of you celebrate two or three Masses every Sunday in distant places, teach Christian doctrine, and give Eucharistic Benediction.
Your people flock to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. You patiently and lovingly discharge this ministry. I understand that in some places all the priests in neighbouring parishes join in a cooperative effort to make this sacrament available. You do this by going together in groups of ten to twenty to your various neighbouring parishes during such peak confession seasons as Christmas and Easter. This, my dear brothers in the priesthood, is an excellent way to fulfil Christ’s will to serve his people. You thereby give your parishioners a good choice of confessors and you bear a silent witness to the one priesthood of Christ and to your fraternal solidarity. The Pope rejoices because of your fidelity to this extremely important sacramental ministry, in which Christ’s forgiving and healing power touches human hearts.
4. You also pay great attention to the preparation of candidates for the other sacraments and to the general promotion of catechetics. You animate and coordinate the work of catechists, Catholic teachers and other teachers of religion. Your Bishops’ Conference has recently emphasized the importance of the catechumenate and has issued directives and letters for the proper carrying out of the sacraments of initiation. Praised be Jesus Christ, who through you and your catechists continues to provide for the deeper rooting of the Church in the power of God’s word.
5. I wish to express my esteem of the apostolate of those priests who, in collaboration with their bishops, work at diocesan centres, pastoral and catechetical centres, junior and senior seminaries, in its social services, the Catholic Secretariat in Lagos, schools, colleges, universities, the mass media, mission assignments outside the diocese, both inside and outside and outside of Nigeria, and all such tasks. These priests are serving Christ in vital areas too. The Church needs their particular contribution to her pastoral mission; the aim of all these activities is to evangelize, to communicate Christ.
6. God has blessed Nigeria with many junior and senior seminarians. Indeed your Bigard Memorial Seminary in Enugu and Ikot Ekpene is one of the largest in the world. Your seminary professors have distinguished themselves by their zealous desire to teach the word of God and by sheer hard work. May the Lord reward all those – the laity, religious, priests and bishops – who make this possible. May he bless the Sacred Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples which gives you moral, financial and technical support.
The high number of your seminarians must never be used as a reason for accepting a lower quality of performance. Of first importance in the seminary must be friendship with Christ centred on the Eucharist and nurtured especially by prayer and meditation on the word of God. This friendship with Christ is authentically expressed in sacrifice, love of neighbour, chastity and apostolic zeal. It likewise demands fidelity to studies and a certain detachment from the things of this world. More spiritual directors are needed for your seminarians. A priest appointed to serve in a seminary should rejoice when this special assignment is given to him. He should strive by word and example to present to the seminarians the highest ideals of the priesthood What a great privilege it is to help lead young men to a greater knowledge and love of Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd. Seminarians who are really unsuitable for ordination should be firmly and charitably advised to follow another vocation.
7. No priest can carry out his ministry well unless he lives in union with Christ. His life, like Christ’s, must be marked by self-sacrifice, zeal for the spreading of the Kingdom of God, unblemished chastity, unstained charity. All this is possible only when the priest is a man of prayer and Eucharistic devotion. By praying the Liturgy of the Hours in union with the Church he will find strength and joy for the apostolate. In silent prayer before the Blessed Sacrament he will be constantly renewed in his consecration to Jesus Christ and confirmed in his permanent commitment to priestly celibacy. By invoking Mary the Mother of Jesus, the priest will be sustained in his generous service to all Christ’s brothers and sisters in the world. Yes, the priest must not allow the passing needs of the active apostolate to elbow out or eat into his prayer life. He must not be so engrossed with working for God that he is in danger of forgetting God himself. He will remember that our Saviour warned us that without him we can do nothing. Without him, we can fish all night and still catch nothing.
8. No priest can work all by himself. He works with his brother priests and under the leadership of the bishop, who is their father, brother, co-worker and friend. The authentic priest will maintain the love and unity of the presbyterium. He will reverence and obey his bishop as he solemnly promised on ordination day. The presbyterium of the bishop with all his priests, diocesan and religious, should function as a family, as an apostolic team marked with joy, mutual understanding and fraternal love. The presbyterium exists so that, through the renewal of Christ’s Sacrifice, the mystery of Christ’s saving love may enter the lives of God’s people. Priests must not forget to help their brother priests who are in difficulty: moral, spiritual, financial or otherwise. And the sick and the old priests find in your warmth of brotherly charity both solace and support.