Vocation and Conversion

Author: Cardinal Mauro Piacenza

Vocation and Conversion

Cardinal Mauro Piacenza

Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy to priests for Lent

A priest must be "a living Gospel passage that all can read and accept". To be this he must fully live the experience of conversion: this means first of all adapting his own life to the preaching that he offers people daily.

These are the guidelines for living Lent that Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, indicates to priests. They are an explicit invitation to "the conversion of our own identity", which the Cardinal expressed in the message published on the Dicastery's web-site.

"We must convert to that what we are!", the Cardinal urges. "The identity, welcomed and received sacramentally in our wounded humanity, demands the progressive confirmation of our hearts, our minds, our behaviour to everything that we are in the image of Christ the Good Shepherd that has been sacramentally imprinted in us".

"It is in the Eucharist that the Priest rediscovers his true identity!", seeing in it "how' to be a shepherd" and "'what' is necessary to truly serve each other".

According to the Cardinal, "a de-Christianized world requires a new evangelization, yet a new evangelization requires 'new' priests. Not Priests in the superficial sense, like every passing fashion, but in sense of of a heart profoundly renewed by every Holy Mass".

"Particularly urgent is the conversion from noise to silence, from the anxious need `to do' to the desire to `remain' with Jesus". Then there isthe conversion to communion, which is brought about by "rediscovering what it really is: communion with God and the Church and with each other. The ecclesial communion is characterized fundamentally by a renewed conscience that is lived out and announces the same doctrine, the same tradition, the same history of holy men and therefore the same Church".

The Cardinal therefore reminds us: "We are called to live Lent with a profound ecclesial awareness, rediscovering the beauty of being in an exodus of people, that includes all the Ordained Priesthood and all people, that looks to their own shepherd as a model of secure reference and with an expectation of renewed and luminous testimony".

"We must convert ourselves to the daily participation of the Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross. Christ made possible and efficacious our Salvation", the Prefect of the Congregation for Clergy says, "with his perfect vicarious substitution. In the same way, every Priest, alter Christus, is called, as were the great saints, to live first hand the mystery of their substitution for the service of all especially in the faithful celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. This Sacrament is sought for ourselves and generously offered to everyone, along with Spiritual Direction, such that in the daily offering of our lives we repair the sins of the world".

Ultimately, both the Church and the world need "serene, penitent, priests before the Blessed Sacrament", who "bring the light of evangelical and ecclesial wisdom in contemporary circumstances which seem to challenge our faith. In this way, they become authentic prophets able, in their turn, to launch to the world the only real challenge: that of the Gospel that calls us to conversion".

"Sometimes", Cardinal Piacenza concludes his message, "the fatigue is really great and we experience the feeling of being only a few before the needs of the Church. However, if we do not convert, we will always be less because only a renewed, converted, 'new' priest can become an instrument through which the Holy Spirit calls other new Priests".

Taken from:
L'Osservatore Romano
Weekly Edition in English
6 April 2011, page 16

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