To the Major Seminarians – St. Pius X Seminary Mumbai – 09 September 2013
Address of the Apostolic Nuncio Salvatore Pennacchio
to the Major Seminarians – St. Pius X Seminary
Mumbai – 09 September 2013
Your Eminence Oswald Card. Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay,
Bishops, Respected Fr. Rector, Reverend Fathers and Sisters,
Members of the Seminary staff, and my dear seminarians,
It gives me immense joy and hope to be with you today, to spend some hours with you in this House of Formation, which is – in a certain sense – thepulsing heart and one of the main reasons of hope of this beloved Archdiocese of Bombay.
As Pope’s Representative in India, I bring to you the blessings and greetings of our Holy Father Pope Francis. As you probably know, the Pope himself, along the years of his priesthood, has been a Seminary formator, a professor and a spiritual director, in Argentina. Therefore, he knows by personal experience and treasures very much the central importance of Seminary formation in the life of the Church.
Recently, speaking to the young people, among whom there were thousands of seminarians, in Rio de Janeiro, at the Waterfront of Copacabana, on July 25th, he reminded them about the moment when Jesus called the first disciples to follow him by the shores of Lake Tiberias. And, on the basis of that evangelical passage, he said to them: “Today Christ asks each of us again: Do you want to be my disciple? Do you want to be my friend? Do you want to be a witness to my Gospel? In the spirit of The Year of Faith, these questions invite us to renew our commitment as Christians. […] Today he desires to come here to confirm you in this faith, faith in the living Christ who dwells within you”.
Today, my dear friends of St. Pius X Seminary, I repeat to you: Christ calls you, calls each of us, to be his disciples, his witnesses, the heralds of the faith in Him, without any fear, and with great enthusiasm, among our brothers and sisters in this changing and troubled world.
God has an eternal plan for you: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you” (Jer 1:5): that is the wonderful beginning of a lifelong relationship with God. This is repeated by Jesus who said to the Apostles, and to all of us, “You did not choose me, but I chose you” (Jn 15:16). The greatest and the most important life-transforming-decision you can make is to answer ‘yes’ to the call of God. And we all are called to repeat our “yes” every day!
His Holiness Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, in his beautiful letter to the seminarians of the year 2010, tells us, “that the most important thing in our path towards priesthood and during the whole of our priestly lives is our personal relationship with God in Jesus Christ.” (Letter to Seminarians, 2010, No: 1).
On the other hand, the Holy Father Francis, in perfect continuity with his beloved Predecessor, in his Homily to the youth that same day in Rio de Janeiro, deepened this fundamental concept, saying: “Jesus brings God to us and us to God. With him, our life is transformed and renewed, and we can see reality with new eyes, from Jesus’ standpoint, with his own eyes. For this reason, I say to every one of you today: “Put on Christ!” in your life, and you will find a friend in whom you can always trust; “put on Christ” and you will see the wings of hope spreading and letting you journey with joy towards the future; “put on Christ” and your life will be full of his love; it will be a fruitful life.”
Then Pope Francis exemplified the deep meaning of his exhortation pointing out the main ways by which a young man can put in practice this ideal of communion with Christ, ways that are essential for any young man who wants to follow Jesus. These ways are even more indispensable for you,dear seminarians, who prepare yourselves for a future life in the holy priesthood. Pope Francis said: “In these days, Christ awaits you in his word; listen carefully to him and his presence will arouse your heart; “Put on Christ”: he awaits you in the sacrament of Penance, with his mercy he will cure all the wounds caused by sin. Do not be afraid to ask God’s forgiveness, because he never tires of forgiving us, like a father who loves us. God is pure mercy! “Put on Christ”: he is waiting for you also in the Eucharist, the sacrament of his presence and his sacrifice of love, and he is waiting for you also in the humanity of the many people who will enrich you with their friendship, encourage you by their witness to the faith, and teach you the language of love, goodness and service.”.
Among these essential ways of welcoming in your life the presence of Jesus, I wish now to draw your attention especially on the most holy sacrament of the real presence of Christ among us, the memorial of his passion, death and resurrection. The Eucharist – in fact – is the center of our lives and is the heart of all the sacraments. Pope Benedict XVI – again in the Letter to the Seminarians – tells us that “in the sacraments Jesus gives himself to us in person, through physical realities. At the heart of our relationship with God and our way of life is the Eucharist.Celebrating it devoutly, and thus encountering Christ personally, should be the centre of all our days.” (Letter to the Seminarian 2010, No 2).
Never forget, dear seminarians and dear formators, this central role of the Eucharist in Seminary life, priestly life, and in the life of the Church. We need to receive from Christ a Eucharistic heart, and a Eucharistic style of life! In other words: a self-giving style of life, in a spirit of communion, love and unity! Only from the source of the Eucharist, the body and blood of Christ present in this divine sacrament, we will be able to receive from Him the grace of imitating Him in a love-centered life, at the service of the Church and of the entire humanity!
There are also other dimensions of your life as seminarians that would deserve to be focused on, like the intellectual and the human development. But they cannot be adequately treated in this my short address. Your formators and your wise Cardinal Archbishop – I am sure – have already illustrated them to you several times and will continue to do that also in the future. Let me conclude, therefore, with only one last exhortation.
The Church has great expectations from young priests in the work of evangelization and of the new evangelization. Almost at the end of this Year of Faith, I encourage you so that in your daily labour, now as seminarians and in the future, hopefully, as priests, rooted in the beauty of the faith and deeply united with Christ, you may be able to bring joyfully and tirelessly the light of the Gospel to the world with truth and enthusiasm!
Finally, as I said at the beginning of this address, we live in a troubled world, where peace is always threatened by menaces of war and violence. The day before yesterday we all joined Pope Francis in a vigil prayer service for peace, with special regard to the anguishing situation in Syria. Let us together invoke Our Lady Queen of Peace: may she intercede for all humanity, and especially for those dear populations more in danger because of violence and conflicts, may they found the way of peace and reconciliation, the only one way which can bring progress and better life to all humanity, regardless of religious beliefs and ethnic identities.
Thanking you for your attention, I now happily bestow upon all of you the Apostolic Blessing of our Holy Father, Pope Francis. Thank you.