9. No state of life escapes temptations and you will try to identify your own. By God’s grace and with persevering effort, you must strive to resist whatever temptation may come your way: whether, for example, to laxity in discipline, or to laziness, instability, unavailability, too much travelling or dissipation of apostolic energy. Relying on grace, you will reject temptations against celibacy by watchfulness, prayer and mortification. You will refuse to be captured by the attraction of material things and will not put your joy in money, big cars, and a high position in society. Party politics are not for you. It is the proper area of the lay apostolate. Rather you are the chaplains of the laity, who in political matters should assume their own distinctive role. In strengthening you against temptation the Sacrament of Penance has great importance for every priest. Here, for our own lives, we ministers of reconciliation find Christ’s healing and sustaining action, his forgiving and merciful love.
10. Nigerians love to study. This is good. Learned priests are required in order to answer the reeds of Church and society. Every priest should continue to improve himself by the private study of theology, catechetics and other such sacred sciences. Strive to make time for some such study frequently. When you are ordained and it is a question of going to universities or similar institutes inside or outside Nigeria, this in an assignment to be given only to a certain number of priests, according to diocesan needs and planning, for which the bishops take ultimate responsibility. Do nothing without your bishop, or worse still against him, especially on this point. Priests who have already put themselves into such irregular positions can now retrace their steps and find peace of conscience. In the same way, you will resist the temptation to seek employment anywhere without or against your bishop. We all share in Christ’s one priesthood. Let us maintain its unity and love.
11. The priest must be a leaven in the Nigerian community of today. In a country in which many are over-concerned with making money, the priest by word and example must call attention to higher values. Man does not live by bread alone. The priest must identify with the poor, so as to be able to bring them the uplifting Gospel of Christ. Remember that Jesus applied these words to himself: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the Good News to the poor”.
Since “evangelization would not be complete if it did not take account of the unceasing interplay of the Gospel and men’s concrete life”, the priest will be deeply concerned with bringing the light of the Gospel and the power of God’s word to touch the many different issues of family life, fundamental human rights and duties, justice and peace, development and liberation, culture and learning. He will endeavour to make Christ and the Church present in the fields of the arts and science, culture and the professions. I am particularly happy about the inauguration of the Catholic Institute of West Africa in Port Harcourt, by the Bishops of Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia and The Gambia, for the purpose of higher ecclesiastical studies.
The priests who work in the mass media have a wonderful opportunity to share Christ with others, as do the spiritual directors of the religious and laity, the chaplains of all lay apostolate organizations, and the priests who recruit vocations to the priesthood and the religious life. To all of you I say: “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him”.
Beloved priests and future priests of Nigeria, as Bishop of Rome and your brother priest, I bless you from my heart. I embrace each of you with deep affection in Christ Jesus – the one who is your only Master and your closest friend, and who has loved each one of you with an everlasting love. I commend you all to Mary the Mother of Jesus, our great High Priest.
HOLY MASS IN BELLAHOUSTON PARK
HOMILY OF JOHN PAUL II
Dear sons and daughters of the Catholic Church in Scotland!
1. Sacred Scripture bears eloquent witness to the unshakable faith which one generation of mankind to the next placed in God. From the time of Abraham onwards through the centuries, that truth remained firmly founded on God’s promise to send a Saviour who would deliver his people.
Of all the expressions of faith none was more spontaneous than that uttered by Andrew, the fisherman of Galilee: “We have found the Messiah!” (John 1, 41). So profound was the impression Jesus made upon him at their first encounter that “early next morning Andrew met his brother and said to him ‘We have found the Messiah’ - which means the Christ - and he took Simon to Jesus. Jesus looked hard at him and said, ‘You are Simon son of John; you are to be called Cephas - meaning Rock’” (Ibid. 1, 41-42). It was Andrew, the heavenly patron of your beloved Scotland, who introduced Peter to Jesus!
2. Today marks another significant moment in the history of our salvation: the Successor of Peter comes to visit the spiritual children of Andrew! We are bound one to another by a supernatural brotherhood stronger than that of blood. Here and now we testify that we profess that identical faith in Jesus, and we firmly hope that we too can lead others to him. This common profession of faith is the compelling motive behind my pastoral visit to your homeland.
3. Dear brothers and sisters, let us reflect for a few moments on the texts of Sacred Scripture that have been proclaimed in this Liturgy of the Word.
We are gathered here on this Scottish hillside to celebrate Mass. Are we not like those first disciples and followers who sat at the feet of Jesus on the hillside near Capernaum? What did Jesus teach them? What does our divine Master wish to teach us, each and every one of us, today? With words simple and clear, Jesus outlined the requirements for admission to his heavenly Kingdom. He offered reflections on every aspect of daily life. Jesus proposed a new concept of living. In the short introductory phrases to his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus sounded the keynote of the New Era he had come to proclaim.
The new spirit is to be gentle, generous, simple, and above all sincere. To avoid being arrogant, censorious, or self-seeking. The disciples of the new Kingdom must seek happiness even amidst poverty, deprivation, tears and oppression. To aim for the Kingdom requires a radical change in outlook, in mentality, in behaviour, in relations with others. Just as the Law revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai, so, in this Sermon on the Mount, Jesus, the new Lawgiver, offers to all mankind a new way of life, a charter of Christian life.
How astonished those first listeners must have been at hearing these dramatic words of Christ!
Especially those who were poor in spirit, gentle, or afflicted, downtrodden and oppressed - to hear themselves proclaimed as eligible for entry into a heavenly Kingdom.
4. It is this loving Fatherhood of God which pervades every word of Jesus. Throughout this discourse he appeals to his listeners to respond to the Father, with a response of filial love.
Everyone who will be animated by this new spirit is a child of God. This is not the spirit of slaves bringing fear into our lives again: it is the spirit of sons, and it makes us cry out, “Abba, Father” (Romans 8, 14-15).
Love can ask more than fear can demand. Love will be the mainspring of the New Era. Jesus affirmed this on a later occasion: “If anyone loves me he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we shall come to him and make our home with him” (John 14, 23).