By Vatican News staff writer
Pope Francis opened his address to seminarians from Italy’s Marche region by asking them to imagine the Seminary “as the family of Nazareth” where Jesus was welcomed, cared for and formed in view of the mission entrusted to him by the Father.
The priest is in fact “a disciple continually on his way in the footsteps of the Master”, and his formation, continued the Pope, begins in the seminary.
Pope Francis then turned his address to the formators.
He prayed that the seminarians may learn more from their formators’ lives than from their words, as happened in the house of Nazareth, where Jesus was formed in the school of Joseph's "creative courage". “May they learn docility from your obedience; industriousness from your dedication; generosity towards the poor from the witness of your sobriety and availability; fatherhood from your living and chaste affection”, he said.
I would like to emphasise this, said the Pope, because we don't talk so much about docility. “Being docile is a gift we must ask for; docility is a virtue not only to be acquired, but to be received”, explained the Pope, adding that “without docility, no one can grow and mature”.
Pope Francis then turned his address back to the seminarians, “whom the Church asks to follow the example of Jesus who let himself be docilely educated by Joseph”. The Pope noted that even as a boy, Joseph had to experience the fatigue involved in every journey of growth, to ask himself the great questions of life, to begin to assume his responsibilities and to make his own decisions. “
May the Seminary be for you too like the house in Nazareth, said the Pope, “where the Son of God learned from his parents about humanity and closeness”. The Pope warned that social media means are not enough to communicate. “Only transformed by the Word of God will you be able to communicate words of life”, he said. In order to do this Pope Francis encouraged the seminarians to draw humanity out of Jesus from the Gospel, to read, to think of examples of genuine faith passed on…
The seminary should bring you closer to God, continued the Pope, “within the walls of the Seminary, expand the boundaries of your heart” and extend them to the whole world.
The four dimensions of formation
Bringing his speech to a close, the Pope suggested a few ideas regarding the four dimensions of formation: human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral.
“First of all, do not distance yourselves from your humanity”, said the Pope, but rather “open yourselves up in all sincerity to your formators, fighting against every form of interior falsehood”.
With regards to spirituality, the Pope continued, “prayer should not be ritualistic, but an opportunity for personal encounter with God, for dialogue and trust in Him”.
He prayed that the seminarians' studies “help you to enter with awareness and competence into the complexity of contemporary culture and thought, not to be afraid of it or hostile to it”.
And speaking lastly of pastoral formation, the Pope noted that it should “encourage you to go out enthusiastically to meet people”. You are priests to serve the People of God, said the Pope, “to care for the wounds of all, especially the poor”. Availability for others: this is the sure proof of your yes to God.
In these four dimensions, explained the Pope, “you will have professors, formators, spiritual directors and you must talk to them”. Look for those who have the wisdom of good wine, he continued, “those who with their testimony will teach you how to solve pastoral problems, those who, as parish priests, knew the names of everyone, of each of their faithful”, They are a treasure, he said.
Thank you for your ecclesial communion
Finally, Pope Francis thanked the pastors and diocesan communities for “the witness of ecclesial communion” given by their decision to enhance the interdiocesan and regional institution of the Seminary. May St Joseph accompany you and may Our Lady protect you, concluded the Pope.