Vatican City, 6 June 2013 (VIS) – “You are preparing for a particular ministry of commitment … a task that requires … great inner freedom,” Pope Francis said this morning to the 45 members of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy whom he received this morning in the Clementine Hall of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, with their president, Archbishop Beniamino Stella. It is the institution that trains candidates for the Holy See's diplomatic service.
In his address to the group, the Holy Father urged the current students to: “live these years of your preparation with commitment, generosity, and greatness of soul, so that this freedom can truly take shape in you!” The Pope explained that, first of all, this freedom “means being free from personal projects: from some of the concrete ways that, perhaps one day, you imagined living your priesthood, from planning the future; from the perspective of staying a long time in 'your' place of pastoral action. It means making yourselves free, in some way, even from the culture and the mentality that you came from, not to forget it and even less to deny it, but to open yourselves, in charity, to understanding diverse cultures and meeting persons belonging to worlds that are even very far removed from your own.”
“Above all, it means being vigilant in order to be free from personal ambitions or aims, which can cause so much harm to the Church, taking care to always put, not your own fulfilment or the recognition that you could receive within and outside of the ecclesial community, but the greater good of the Gospel cause and the fulfilment of the mission that you will be entrusted with. … The ministry that you are preparing for asks you to go out of yourselves, a self-detachment that can only be achieved through an intense spiritual journey and a serious unification of the life around you to the mystery of God's love and to the inscrutable plan of his call.”
“We can live the freedom from our plans and our will not as a reason for frustration or emptiness, but as an openness to God's superabundant gift, which makes our priesthood fruitful. In this way, the Holy Father asked them to take great care of their spiritual lives, the source of that inner freedom, by “cultivating a life of prayer and by making your daily work the gym of your sanctification”.
Francis reminded those present of the words of Blessed John XXIII: “The more mature I grow in years and experience, the more I recognize that the surest way to make myself holy and to succeed in the service of the Holy See lies in the constant effort to reduce everything … to the utmost simplicity and tranquillity … and concentrate on what is truth, justice, and charity, above all charity. Any other way of behaving is nothing but affectation and self-assertion; it soon shows itself in its true colours and becomes a hindrance and a mockery.”
In his own words, the Pope then mentioned the sisters who carry out their service amongst the Academy's students. “They are good Mothers who accompany you with prayer, with their simple and essential words, and above all by their example of loyalty, dedication, and love.” He also thanked the lay personnel that work at the house “with their hidden yet important presence that allows you to live your time at the Academy serenely and committedly.” On concluding the audience, the Holy Father invited them to undertake their service to the Holy See with the same spirit as Blessed John XXIII, asked them to pray for him, and entrusted them to the Virgin Mary and their patron, St. Anthony Abbot.