DAILY CATHOLIC    TUESDAY     October 26, 1999     vol. 10, no. 204

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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John Paul II Receives Paris Seminarians

        VATICAN CITY, OCT 25 (ZENIT).- How must the priest of the 21st century be prepared? John Paul II responded to this question late this morning when he received professors and seminarians of the Archdiocese of Paris, led by their Archbishop, Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, whom the Pope congratulated on the 20th anniversary of his episcopacy, which he will celebrate in a few days time.

        During the meeting, the Pontiff expressed satisfaction with the special attention given by the diocese of the French capital to the formation of priests. And it is precisely in the seminary, that the future of priests is defined, as well as that of the Church herself.

        In recalling that the seminary is a kind of training ground for priestly life, the Holy Father stressed that "the elements acquired during the period of formation -- a time of discernment for the Church, is for each priest like the map of his own priestly life."

        The Pope explained that permanent formation "disposes" seminarians "for the mission." "All that you have begun to practice with regularity, must remain in you like a rule of life during your whole life." In this context, he mentioned the meeting with the Lord in the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, confident love for the Church, liturgical and personal prayer, the 'lectio divina,' fraternal life, which is like the soul of the presbytery, and concern for the people of God, especially the poor."

        Addressing the Parisian professors and seminarians, John Paul II reminded them that they "are called to scrutinize the Christian mystery in order to understand the faith. It is not a simple 'knowing,' but a journey as believers, allowing oneself to be molded and unified through the Creed for the purpose of proclaiming the Gospel in terms adapted to our time." He also recalled that "the study of Scripture, read in the tradition, must be the soul of your lives."

        Moreover, in response to the present crisis of meaning that man is experiencing, the Pope reminded the seminarians that theology must presuppose and imply "a philosophy of man, of the world and -- more radically, of being, based on objective truth."

        The Pope's last piece of advice was perhaps the most personal. The seminarian's formation will only be able to forge the priest of tomorrow if it is impregnated with love for the Church. "Love the Church as Christ loved her, giving Himself up for her! Proclaim the mystery of the cross at all times with your life, through preaching and the gift of the sacraments."

        The Holy Father concluded that in this way "you will be genuine pastors and servers of your brothers, ready to respond to the demands of the announcement of salvation, in the respect and obedience owed to your Bishop." ZE99102504

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October 26, 1999       volume 10, no. 204


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