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Posted May 22, 2006

The Priest as Shepherd, Not Careerist

Pope Benedict XVI
Origins, May 25, 2006. Vol. 36. Number 2

An Excerpt from Pope Benedict's Message

Priest must learn to give their lives, to serve. Thus, careerism is not the correct path into the future, Pope Benedict XVI said May 7 when he ordained 15 priests in St. Peter's Basilica. Twelve of the new priests were from Italy, with one each from Honduras, Israel and Poland. The priests will serve in Rome. Pope Benedict described careerism as "the attempt to 'get ahead,' to gain a position through the church: to make use of and not to serve." "This is the image of a man who wants to make himself important, to become a person of note through the priesthood; the image of someone who has as his aim his own exaltation and not the humble service of Jesus Christ.

The Eucharist must become for us a school of life in which we learn to give our lives. Daily 'I must learn to abandon myself, to keep myself available for whatever he, the Lord, needs of me at ta given mment, even if other things seem more appealing and more important to me: It means giving life, not taking it. The priest is to be a shepherd. He gives his life for his sheep, he knows them, and they know him, and he is at the service of unity.

The shepherd cannot be satisfied with knowing his sheep names and dates. His way of knowing his sheep must always also be knowing with the heart.

Excerpts from the homily:

"This is the true way to rise; this is the true door. It is not the desire to become 'someone' for oneself, but rather to exist for others, for Christ and thus through him and with him to be there for the people he seeks, whom he wants to lead on the path of life."

"However, it is only possible to do this properly if the Lord has opened our hearts, if our knowing does not bind people to our own small, private self, to our own small heart, but rather makes them aware of the heart of Jesus, the heart of the Lord."