Mi?rcoles, 09 de octubre de 2013

– El último encuentro de la visita pastoral en Corea del Cardenal Fernando Filoni, Prefecto de la Congregación para la Evangelización de los Pueblos, ha sido con los seminaristas, en la tarde del sábado 5 de octubre. Seúl (Agencia Fides)

MEETING of the Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples with the Seminarians

 Seoul - Saturday, October 5, 2013 - 5:00pm


1. In coming to Korea, I had a deep desire to meet with you, my dear Seminarians.  This meeting ideally embraces all of the students of our Seminaries in Korea, to whom I give my affectionate greetings.  The Church in Korea responds today with more than 1,500 young men to its future pastoral needs, preparing you for priestly ministry.  For you today, as you know, it is a time of discernment about your lives: “What do I desire to make of and with my life?”  It is also about orientation: “What way do I want to go?” I used two terms upon which I would like to linger briefly: discernment and orientation.

2. Discernment: It is the act with which the mind learns things and their true essence.  It is an action, as you understand, that is fundamentally of the intellect, because through this it carries out a judgment on an important situation in life.  According to the narration of the Evangelists Mark and Luke, in Chapters 10 and 18, respectively, a young man went to Jesus for a discernment on his own existence.  Certainly, he had for some time asked himself about his own life, but he also wanted to have the help of an expert Master, in order to not have judged or followed a pathway in error.  He wanted to have  a light that would make things clear about his doubts (cf. Mark 10:17-31, and Luke 18:18-23).  And Jesus explains to him that the observance of the Commandments, both those that concern one’s proper relationship with God, with His love and with His awareness, and to those that concern one’s relationships with other persons and things; He offers him a truth and an orientation that are sufficiently valid to live a dignified life morally and socially (cf. Luke 18:18-20; Mark 10:17-19).

3. This, however, does not seem to be enough for the man; he was looking for another way, for something more, because he thought that the path laid out for all mankind must not be exhausted only by the Ten Commandments.  He had a similar intuition from the time when the Master had spoken to the people and to His disciples: "Whoever wishes to come after me…” (Matthew 16:24).  If you must follow along a pathway and do not have precise points of reference, we think here of cardinal points, you stay idle or uncertain. You are disoriented and you move yourself based on doubts, and you can easily make mistakes. The young man in the Gospel, however, wanted something more. Beyond the usual discernment, he wanted an orientation, that is, a goal, a purpose, and end to which it would be worth fully committing his life.  And Jesus offers it to him: free yourself from all affective and material ties, says the Master to the aspiring disciple, and follow me (cf. Mark 10:21; Luke 18:22)!  Optatam Totius, the Conciliar Decree on priestly formation, underlines that, in preparation for the Priesthood, the young men must be helped to discern initially the “proper intention”, and therefore be well oriented through the exercise of “freedom of choice” (n. 6) for the priestly ministry and for the needs that this life dedicated to Christ and the Church entail.  In synthesis, the time that you spend in the Seminary is a time of discernment, of orientation, and of preparation for the service of God and the Church.  In this context, I want to highlight the responsibility that falls to your Bishops and your formators, who may not give to this duty only a small part of their time or a partial attention.  For this, it is necessary that especially the formators, both of discipline and of the spiritual life, constantly live in the Seminary in order that they might give the very best of the resources of their own lives and be exemplary witnesses to prayer and priestly life.

4. The Seminary, therefore, is the place in which, for a determined period, one has the experience of meeting Christ, and, after a certain time of preparation, one will see for himself whether the discernment and the training have been sufficient for admission to Ordination and the priestly life.  In relation to this, the students must have given proof of steadfastness of heart in the will to serve Christ and the Church through the priestly ministry.  Pope Benedict XVI, in his Letter to Seminarians of October 18, 2010, wrote that “The seminary is a community journeying towards priestly ministry”, underlining that priests do not become such by themselves or for themselves. It happens that they live attached to a community.  As a result, the Seminary is the place where one acquires an authentic human maturity (that is necessary for oneself and in the service of others), and adequate intellectual formation (so that the well-known Word of God is sustenance on a personal level and on the level of the ecclesial community), and a sincere affinity to God, with reference to one’s affections and to material goods  (“If any one comes to me without hating … even his own life, he cannot be my disciple” [Luke 14:26]; “One does not live by bread alone” [Matthew 4:4]).

5. What kind of priest does the Church expect you to be?  How does one describe it?  The doctrine and spirituality of the Church, as noted, have much to say.  Perhaps it would be more appealing to mention a few priests in the life of the Church who have made an authentic physiognomy incarnate; I think of the example of a Vincent de Paul, man of charity; or a Francis Xavier, a missionary who totally loved Christ; or a Maximilian Maria Kolbe, martyr of Auschwitz; or a Karol Wojtyla, who became Pope – and I could continue with many other examples.  There are, however, a few characteristics that cannot be lacking in a priest and that are asked of us and needed by our faithful.  A priest is to be: a man of God (as St. Paul writes in a few verses of his Letters to Timothy [1 Timothy 5:17ff.; 2 Timothy 14-16, 22-26] and to Titus [1:7ff.]); a man of prayer, loving the daily exercise of the Liturgy of the Hours and personal prayer; a man of noble virtues and of charity, as explained rather impressionably by Pope Francis, when he said that to be a pastor who loves his faithful and takes upon himself “the scent of his own sheep”; a man truly formed by the Word and by Divine Wisdom.

6. We are not, therefore, administrators or bureaucrats of religious questions like any other non-governmental organization (NGO); not ideologues of an evangelical message of a type socialized according to a reading consonant with politico-social sciences; even less a sort of immanent and self-referential psychiatrist, deprived of transcendence and sense of mission; and even less a kind of elitist, that is, standing far away and distant from reality in a context of disembodied pessimism, far away from God and from humanity.

7. Of what kind of priest, then, do we intend to speak?  Precisely of a “man of God”, “of prayer”, “of noble virtues”; who loves the Gospel; who every day gets up and follows Christ; who considers himself as fully at the service of the Church; who loves with sensus Ecclesiae, that is, with the sense of the Church, as fully belonging as the branch to the trunk of the tree; who is close to the people; who is a father and brother; who has much patience and mercy; who does not feed the flock with an attitude of superiority; who loves and chooses Gospel virtues, and a simple and effective lifestyle; who tends with a watchful eye the flock entrusted to him and stays with them; and who is happy with all of this, happy to be a priest.  Permit me to use yet again, dear Seminarians, the word of Pope Francis himself, which he spoke in Rio de Janeiro before the great number of seminarians who were present in the Metropolitan Cathedral.  Citing the example of the Maccabaeus brothers, who would not accept going according to the current of the moment or the desire that they would just abandon the faith of Israel or of their Fathers, the Pope said: “Have the courage to go against the tide of this culture of efficiency, this culture of waste (that is, where a selection is made between the person who has value, and the person who does not, between the sick and the healthy, between the elderly, the mentally ill, the poor, etc.). To encounter and welcome everyone, solidarity – a word that is being hidden by this culture, as if it were a bad word – solidarity and fraternity: these are what make our society truly human.  Be servants of communion and of the culture of encounter! I would like you to be almost obsessed about this. Be so without being presumptuous, imposing “our truths”, but rather be guided by the humble yet joyful certainty of those who have been found, touched and transformed by the Truth who is Christ, ever to be proclaimed…” (cf. L’Osservatore Romano, July 29-30, 2013).

8. Dear Seminarians, it is this message and best wishes that I leave with you, and I would like that, the day of your Priestly Ordination, when the Bishop requests that you to present yourself before the Altar and asks if you are worthy and suitable for priestly ministry, you as well can answer with the beautiful words of Peter in the election of Matthias as the Twelfth Apostle: You, Lord, Who know the hearts of all, show to us and therefore consecrate the one chosen (cf. Acts 1:24).  As we know well in the case of the Apostle Matthias, he had received a true and complete seminary formation, having been a follower of the Lord the entire time in which “Jesus came and went among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day on which he was taken up from us” (Acts 1:22-23).  On that blessed day of your Ordination to the Priesthood, you will then have a dialogue that takes place between you and the Bishop, and that ratifies your generosity and the totality of the gift for the rest of your lives.  From this moment, you will be “sacerdotes in aeternum” for the glory of God and for the good of His holy Church.

9. I wish to conclude my reflections with a word of profound gratitude to your Bishops - who have you at heart – and to your formators and teachers who care for your formation.  I would like to assure you, dear Seminarians, that our Congregation follows your progress with much attention.  You represent the hope of the Church in Korea, a Church that is alive and very much admired in the Catholic world, as well as in this Asiatic Region.  My thanks to all of you, young Seminarians, for your generosity.  You can be that “countercurrent”, as the Pope loves to say, in the secularized and hedonistic culture of today, who show that God loves Korea through you, and that you are the heirs of those first extraordinary pioneers, those young seminarians, who are called Andrew Kim Tae-gon, Thomas Choi Yang-Eob, and Francis Choi Kwa-Choul, and who, around 1836 at 15 years of age, left for Macao to become native priests of the noble Korean nation. 

Inspired by their most beautiful example and their heroic fidelity to Christ, I entrust you, dear Seminarians from all over Korea, to the protection of Mary, Queen of the Land of placid dawns and morning splendors, and Mother of the Church.

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