I have been thinking all week that I should pray for peace this week. I think we should pray for peace every week. Peace was one of Benedict’s goals. He wanted to honor Benedict XV who fought for peace before WWI. Critics of Benedict XVI often forget that he plead and preached for peace. For them, he was not a man of peace, nor was he peaceful. He created conflict. Peace is to them the opposite of conflict. (I won’t go into a discussion of conflict being necessary for peace…). I think these critics have a narrow view of peace. Benedict was praying for the peace Christ brings, of which one of the earthly signs is the lack violence. Have you ever noticed how often the proponents of peace were personally violent toward Benedict?
A sizeable group of those who were violent toward Benedict were priests. When I think of Benedict praying, I think he often prays for workers in the vineyard, troops for the Lord. We need more men to be priests. I am not into the women’s priest movement. That is not the paradigm. The paradigm is recreating and living the Lord’s paradigm. It is important for men to be our priests. They are a sign, not only of contradiction, but also when faithful to their vows, they witness that promises can be kept and sacrifices bear fruit. Faithful priests unconsciously nudge men and women into repentance without saying a word. Yes, the priest will be mocked and scorned but spiritually he will win the fight. We need faithful men. We need faithful priests. So tonight, I think I should pray for priests, for workers in the vineyard. I pray for priests who understand the power of Christ’s peace versus just the mere lack of violence. I pray for priests who are faithful to Christ who are not swayed by popular opinion or by what is easy. I pray for priests who know what a priest is, like Benedict XVI.
The following is a beautiful message from Benedict XVI to seminarians in Cologne. The whole can be found here. Is this not a recipe to become a bearer of peace?
“The better you know Jesus the more his mystery attracts you. The more you discover him, the more you are moved to seek him. This is a movement of the Spirit which lasts throughout life, and which makes the seminary a time of immense promise, a true “springtime”.
When the Magi came to Bethlehem, “going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him” (Mt 2: 11). Here at last was the long-awaited moment: their encounter with Jesus.
“Going into the house”: this house in some sense represents the Church. In order to find the Saviour, one has to enter the house, which is the Church.
During his time in the seminary, a particularly important process of maturation takes place in the consciousness of the young seminarian: he no longer sees the Church “from the outside”, but rather, as it were, “from the inside”, and he comes to sense that she is his “home”, inasmuch as she is the home of Christ, where “Mary his mother” dwells.
It is Mary who shows him Jesus her Son; she introduces him and in a sense enables him to see and touch Jesus, and to take him into his arms. Mary teaches the seminarian to contemplate Jesus with the eyes of the heart and to make Jesus his very life.
Each moment of seminary life can be an opportunity for loving experience of the presence of Our Lady, who introduces everyone to an encounter with Christ in the silence of meditation, prayer and fraternity. Mary helps us to meet the Lord above all in the celebration of the Eucharist, when, in the Word and in the consecrated Bread, he becomes our daily spiritual nourishment.
“They fell down and worshiped him… and offered him gifts: gold, frankincense and myrrh” (Mt 2: 11-12). Here is the culmination of the whole journey: encounter becomes adoration; it blossoms into an act of faith and love which acknowledges in Jesus, born of Mary, the Son of God made man.
How can we fail to see prefigured in this gesture of the Magi the faith of Simon Peter and of the other Apostles, the faith of Paul and of all the saints, particularly of the many saintly seminarians and priests who have graced the 2,000 years of the Church’s history?
The secret of holiness is friendship with Christ and faithful obedience to his will. St Ambrose said: “Christ is everything for us”; and St Benedict warned against putting anything before the love of Christ.
May Christ be everything for you. Dear seminarians, be the first to offer him what is most precious to you, as Pope John Paul II suggested in his Message for this World Youth Day: the gold of your freedom, the incense of your ardent prayer, the myrrh of your most profound affection (cf. n. 4).
The seminary years are a time of preparing for mission. The Magi “departed for their own country” and most certainly bore witness to their encounter with the King of the Jews.
You too, after your long, necessary programme of seminary formation, will be sent forth as ministers of Christ; indeed, each of you will return as an alter Christus.
On their homeward journey, the Magi surely had to deal with dangers, weariness, disorientation, doubts. The star was no longer there to guide them! The light was now within them. Their task was to guard and nourish it in the constant memory of Christ, of his Holy Face, of his ineffable Love.
Dear seminarians! One day, God willing, by the consecration of the Holy Spirit you too will begin your mission. Remember always the words of Jesus: “Abide in my love” (Jn 15: 9). If you abide close to Christ, with Christ and in Christ, you will bear much fruit, just as he promised. You have not chosen him – we have just heard this in the witnesses given -, he has chosen you (cf. Jn 15: 16).
Here is the secret of your vocation and your mission! It is kept in the Immaculate Heart of Mary, who watches over each one of you with a mother’s love. Have recourse to Mary, often and with confidence.”
Hail Mary, full of Grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.