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Pope to seminarians: ‘Shun careerism,’ live with simplicity, austerity

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — Do not settle for a worry-free, comfortable life with an unhealthy attachment to money and an ambitious heart yearning for honors, Pope Francis told seminarians studying in Rome.

Pope Francis greets Cardinal Ricardo Blazquez Perez of Valladolid, Spain, during an audience with seminarians and faculty of the Pontifical Spanish College of St. Joseph at the Vatican April 1. Cardinal Blazquez Perez is patron of the seminary in Rome. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano)

Pope Francis greets Cardinal Ricardo Blazquez Perez of Valladolid, Spain, during an audience with seminarians and faculty of the Pontifical Spanish College of St. Joseph at the Vatican April 1. Cardinal Blazquez Perez is patron of the seminary in Rome. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano)

“I’m telling you this as a brother, father and friend. Please, shun ecclesial careerism. It is a plague. Avoid it,” he said April 1 during an audience at the Vatican with students, faculty, staff and alumni of the Pontifical Spanish College of St. Joseph in Rome. The college was celebrating the 125th anniversary of its founding.

Everything hinges on loving the Lord with all of one’s heart, soul, mind and strength, he said, citing the Gospel of Mark (12:30).

That is what determines whether a person will be able to say “yes” to Jesus or turn one’s back on him like the rich young man did in the Gospels, he said.

“You cannot settle for leading an orderly and comfortable life that lets you live without worry unless you feel the need to cultivate a spirit of poverty rooted in the heart of Christ,” the pope said.

Priests must have “an appropriate relationship with the world and earthly goods” if they are to gain authentic freedom as children of God, he said.

“Do not forget this: the devil always comes in through the pocket, always.”

Give thanks for what one possesses, he said, and “generously and willingly renounce the superfluous in order to be near the poor and weak.”

While Pope Francis said he wasn’t asking them to “sell their shirt” like Blessed Manuel Domingo y Sol, the college founder, asked people to be willing to do, the pope said he was asking them to be witnesses to Jesus through a lifestyle based on “simplicity and austerity” so as to be “credible proponents of a true social justice.”

Priestly formation cannot depend solely on academic formation, which breeds “all the ideologies that infect the church with every type of clerical academicism.”

Studies must intertwine academic, spiritual, community and apostolic formation all together, and when one of these four legs is missing, he said, “formation begins to limp and the priest ends up paralyzed.”

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Don’t think you’re better than others, pope tells seminarians

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — The prayer, community life and pastoral experience offered to seminarians must help them become priests with a strong sense of belonging to the Lord, to the church and to God’s kingdom, Pope Francis said.

“The first obstacle to overcome, then, is narcissism. It’s the most dangerous temptation,” the pope said in a written message to about 180 students from Puglia’s regional Pius XI Seminary.

Pope Francis poses with seminarians from Pius XI Seminary during a meeting at the Vatican Dec. 10. The seminary trains priests for the Puglia region of southern Italy. (CNS photo/L'Osservatore Romano)

Pope Francis poses with seminarians from Pius XI Seminary during a meeting at the Vatican Dec. 10. The seminary trains priests for the Puglia region of southern Italy. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano)

“How can I notice Christ if I only look at myself?” he asked. “How can I experience the beauty of the church if my only concern is to save myself, my energy and get out of every situation unscathed?”

Belonging to Christ and his church, the pope wrote, means being able to enter into relationships, especially with people who are not the most popular. It is something young men must learn and practice in the seminary, first with other seminarians and then with the people they meet in their pastoral experiences in parishes.

A key part of that, he said, is for the seminarians to form and maintain friendships with other people their age outside the seminary and to never “think you are better than other young people” just because one has felt a call to the priesthood.

“If tomorrow you want to be priests who live in the midst of the holy people of God, begin today to learn how to be with everyone, to learn something from each person you encounter,” he said.

Of course, the pope said, having a deep prayer life and personal relationship with Christ is essential for being a priest who knows how to gather the people together and bring them to Christ.

As he often does with groups of priests or religious, Pope Francis handed the seminarians his prepared text and proceeded to give them an improvised talk.

“How much time do you spend seated before the tabernacle every day?” the pope asked the students. Before going to bed at night, he suggested, “at least spend a moment before the tabernacle.”

Sometimes, at the end of a busy day, a person might even nod off in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, but, he said, “what could be more beautiful than falling asleep before the Lord? It happens to me. It’s not a sin.”

Pope Francis told the seminarians that Molfetta, the town where the seminary is located, always reminds him of Sister Bernadetta, a nun from Molfetta, who worked for years in Argentina.

“When I, as novice master (of the Jesuits) and also as provincial superior, had a problem with someone, I’d send them to speak with her,” the pope said. “And she, with two ‘spiritual slaps,’ would resolve everything.”

She had “that wisdom that women of God, mothers, have,” the pope said. “It is a grace to grow in your priestly vocation having near these women, these mothers, who know how to say what the Lord wants said.”

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Pope asks Jesuits to help diocesan clergy in pastoral discernment — ‘The shades of gray prevail in life’

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Catholic News Service

ROME — When it comes to the Christian life, too many seminaries teach students a rigid list of rules that make it difficult or impossible for them as priests to respond to the real-life situation of those who come to them seeking guidance, Pope Francis said. Read more »

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Viewpoint: Pray for those who answer the call

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Bishop Malooly and Father Norman P. Carroll, director of the Office of Priestly and Religious Vocations and pastor of St. Elizabeth Church, met with the five current seminarians for the Diocese of Wilmington at St. E’s rectory July 21 for dinner. Read more »

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They came, they saw, they entered the seminary

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Dialog reporter   Diocese’s two newest seminarians took concerns, questions to priests at Come and Seek gatherings   The thought of entering the seminary had been in the minds of Brennan Ferris and Joe Sullivan for quite a while, but the decision to go wasn’t solidified until after both had attended Come and Seek meetings with local priests and other men discerning their vocation. Come and Seek is a program started by diocesan priests last year to introduce men to priestly life in an informal setting. Ferris, a Wilmington native who attended St. Elizabeth elementary and high schools, is a sophomore at the College Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in South Orange, N.J. He said he had thought about entering the priesthood for several years, but it was as a senior in high school that the call became stronger. He attended Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Md., as a freshman and heard about Come and Seek when he was back in Delaware. Read more »

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