Proclamation of the Resurrection. That Christians may not tire of proclaiming with their lives that Christ's resurrection is the source of hope and peace.
Pope Benedict's 2nd Encyclical, Spe Salvi, conveys to us the Holy Father's rich insights into the nature of Christian hope. The Pope recognizes, however, that if anyone is to receive the message of Christian hope, it must be by the grace of God. Our intellect can take us only so far. God's grace alone opens us to receive Christian hope as our spiritual anchor.
"A first essential setting for learning hope is prayer," says the Holy Father (Spe Salvi 32). As the word of hope goes out, let us pray that it's well-received by people everywhere. When people hear about Jesus' rising from the dead, may they embrace the faith with both mind and heart.
We also pray that the hope Christ brings banishes the false hopes that dominate the contemporary landscape. The Pope says worldly hopes are tied to reason and freedom. Many are looking to progress in science and society to save us from death and oblivion. But reason and freedom apart from God cannot lead us to paradise, for people are saved by love (23).
Similarly people often hope their wealth, fame, beauty, skill, or power will save them. But "All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of the field; the grass withers, and the flower wilts; but the word of the Lord remains forever" (1 Peter 1: 24-25).
Our faith in Jesus' resurrection is indeed a hope that cannot be shaken. Nor does it remain merely a personal hope, says Pope Benedict. "Christ died for all…. Hope in a Christian sense is always hope for others as well" (28, 34). Our hope is such that it can even grow during times of personal suffering, especially as we offer up our sufferings for the salvation of others (40).
May we and all Christians never tire of proclaiming in our words and in our lives our message of true hope.
What are your hopes for yourself and others?
1 Corinthians 15: 17-19 — If Christ has not been raised, your faith is vain; you are still in your sins…. If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are the most pitiable people of all.
Future Priests. That the future priests of the young Churches may be formed to evangelize their nations and the whole world.
By "young Churches" Pope Benedict means the Church in countries where Christianity has arrived in the past couple of centuries, where it is relatively new and therefore potentially fragile. A young church must make the transition from being a missionary church to being an indigenous church, one having its own priests and bishops. At some later point, the indigenous church becomes a church that itself sends out missionaries to the mission fields.
Pope Benedict asks us to pray this month for what the young Churches need most: priests properly formed to evangelize their own nations and the whole world. What does the Holy Father consider the proper formation of a priest? To seminarians attending World Youth Day in 2005, Pope Benedict said that the future priest must be someone who first of all "has had a personal experience of Christ," for, above all, a priest must be holy.
"The secret of holiness," the Pope continued, "is friendship with Christ and faithful obedience to his will…. 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."
In 2006 speaking to Polish seminarians, Pope Benedict said, "So much can be gained by reflecting on the way Mary learned from Jesus. From her very first ‘fiat,' through the long ordinary years of the hidden life … or when at Cana in Galilee she asked for the first sign, or when finally on Calvary, by the Cross, she looked on Jesus, she ‘learned' him moment by moment." The Pope urged the seminarians, like Mary, to "keep your eyes fixed on him. Let him form you, so that in your ministry you will be able to show him to all who approach you…. The world and the Church need priests, holy priests."
We join the Pope in praying this month that the future priests of the young Churches "be specialists in promoting the encounter between man and God."
Why do you think the Pope commends holiness — above education, talent, and action — as the most important quality of a future priest?
Romans 10:14-16 — How can they hear without someone to preach? And how can people preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring the good news!"
Daily Offering Prayer
O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer You my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world. I offer them for all the intentions of Your Sacred Heart: the salvation of souls, reparation for sin, and the reunion of all Christians. I offer them for the intentions of our bishops and of all Apostles of Prayer, and in particular for those recommended by our Holy Father this month.
Prayer of the Month
O Jesus, eternal High Priest, I pray for all seminarians, Your future priests. Give them humility, meekness, prudence, and a burning zeal for souls. Fill their hearts with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Teach them to know and love the Church, that they may always and everywhere speak, act, and think with her. Teach them generosity and detachment from the things of this world. But above all, teach them to know You and love You, the one and only eternal priest. Good Shepherd of souls, hear this my prayer for saintly priests. Amen.