"We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary. There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than to know Him and to speak to others of our friendship with Him. The task of the shepherd, the task of the fisher of men, can often seem wearisome. But it is beautiful and wonderful, because it is truly a service to joy, to God’s joy which longs to break into the world." (Benedict XVI, Homily during the Installation Ceremony, 24 April 2005)
(Question) Most Blessed Father, commenting on the Way of the Cross in 2005, you spoke of the dirt in the Church; and in the Homily for the ordination of the Roman priests last year, you warned us of the risk "of careerism, the attempt to get to the top, to obtain a position through the Church". How do we face these problems as serenely and responsibly as possible?
(Reply of Pope Benedict XVI) "It is not an easy question, but it seems to me that I have already said, and it is an important point, that the Lord knows, knew from the beginning, that there is also sin in the Church, and for our humility it is important to recognize this and to see sin not only in others, in structures, in lofty hierarchical duties, but also in ourselves, to be in this way more humble and to learn that what counts before the Lord is not an ecclesial position, but what counts is to be in his love and to make his love shine forth.
"Personally I consider St Ignatius' prayer on this point to be very important. It says: 'Suscipe, Domine, universam meam libertatem; accipe memoriam, intellectum atque voluntatem omnem; quidquid habeo vel possideo mihi largitus es; id tibi totum restitoì ac tuae prorsus voluntati traoi gubernandum; amorem tuum cum gratia tua mihi dones ed dives sum satis, nec aliud quidquam ultra posco'.
"Precisely this last part seems to me to be very important: to understand that the true treasure of our life is living in the Lord's love and never losing this love. Then we are really rich. A man who has discovered a great love feels really rich and knows that this is the true pearl, that this is the treasure of his life and not all the other things he may possess.
"We have found, indeed, we have been found by the love of the Lord, and the more we let ourselves be moved by his love in sacramental life, in prayer life, in the life of work, in our free time, the better we will understand that indeed, I have found the true pearl, all the rest is worthless, all the rest is important only to the extent that the Lord's love attributes these things to me. I am rich, I am truly rich and borne aloft if I am in this love. Here I find the centre of life, its riches. Then let us allow ourselves to be guided, let us allow Providence to decide what to do with us.
"Here a little story springs to my mind about St Bakhita, the beautiful African Saint who was a slave in Sudan and then discovered the faith in Italy, who became a Sister. When she was old, the Bishop who was paying a visit to her religious house had not met her. He spotted this small, bent African Sister and said to Bakhita: 'But what do you do, Sister?'; and Sr Bakhita replied: 'I do the same as you, Your Excellency'. Astonished, the Bishop asked her: 'But what?', and Bakhita answered, 'But Your Excellency, we both want to do the same thing: God's will'.
"This seems to me to be a most beautiful answer, the Bishop and the tiny Sister who was almost no longer capable of working, who were both doing the same thing in their different offices; they were seeking to do God's will and so were in the right place.
"I also remember something St Augustine said: All of us are always only disciples of Christ, and his throne is loftier, for his throne is the Cross and only this height is the true height, communion with the Lord, also in his Passion. It seems to me, if we begin to understand this by a life of daily prayer, by a life of dedicated service to the Lord, we can free ourselves of these very human temptations."
(Benedict XVI, Dialogue With Seminarians of the Roman Major Seminary, 17 February 2007)
Blessed be God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us, in Christ, with every spiritual blessing in heaven.
In love, he chose us before the creation of the world,
to be holy and spotless in his sight.
He predestined us to be his adopted children through Jesus Christ,
simply because it pleased him to do so.
This he did for the praise of the glory of his grace,
of his free gift of us in his Beloved,
in whose blood we have gained redemption,
and the forgiveness of our sins.
This he did according to the riches of his grace,
which he gave us in abundance,
with all wisdom and discernment,
revealing to us the mysteries of his will,
because it pleased him to do so.
In this action he has planned, in the fulfilment of time,
to bring all things together in Christ,
from the heavens and from the earth.
Eritis mihi sancti,
quia sanctus sum ego Dominus
et separavi vos a ceteris populis,
ut essetis mei.
You shall be holy to me;
for I the LORD am holy,
and have separated you from the peoples,
that you should be mine.
A saint is a man as any other man. But he has emptied himself and has invited the Spirit to occupy his place. And it is the Holy Spirit that is holy. (Locution to Gabriela Bossis, God's Spiritual Direction (Messages from Heaven). Transl. Fr Adolf Faroni, SDB. Manila: Don Bosco Press, 2000, pp 109-110)
I am so afraid Jesus--I am so terribly afraid--let me not be deceived.--I am so afraid.--This fear shows me how much I love myself.--I am afraid of the suffering that will come--through leading that Indian life--clothing like them, eating like them, sleeping like them--living with them and never having anything my way. How much comfort has taken possession of my heart." (Blessed Mother Teresa, Come Be My Light, p 97)
(A journalist asked Mother Teresa if she was ever in doubt. After all, the journalist said, Christ himself had moments of doubt in Gethsemane.)
No. There was no doubt. It was only for a moment that He felt unsure. That was as a human being. That was natural. The moment you accept, the moment you surrender yourself, that's the conviction. But it may mean death to you, eh? The conviction comes the moment you surrender yourself. Then there is no doubt. The moment Jesus said, "Father, I am at your disposal, Thy will be done," He had accepted. That was His agony. He felt all the things you and I would feel as human beings. That's why He was like unto us in all things, except sin."
[If uncertainty remains] that's the time to go on your knees, eh? .... In that prayer, God cannot deceive you because that prayer comes from within you. That is the time you want Him most. Once you have got God within you, that's for life. There is no doubt. You can have other doubts, eh? But that particular one will never come again. No, I have never had doubt.... But I am convinced that it is He and not I. That it is His work, and not my work. I am only at His disposal. Without Him I can do nothing. But even God could do nothing for someone already full. You have to be completely empty to let Him in to do what He will. That's the most beautiful part of God, eh? Being almighty, and yet not forcing Himself on anyone.
(Blessed Mother Teresa, Come Be My Light, pp 259-260)
First thing in the morning, kiss the crucifix. Offer Him everything you will say, or do or think during the day. Love Him with a deep, personal, intimate love--and you will become a holy priest. (Blessed Mother Teresa, Advice to a priest, Come Be My Light, p 327)