Tuesday, 27 September 2011

To the German seminarians...

Pope Benedict, who concluded a 4-day journey to Germany last Sunday, spoke, before he departed, to the country's seminarians. His speech, which was not written down, but later recorded and translated by the Vatican has just been published, and can be found here.

Here's a little excerpt:

In considering the question -- What is the seminary for? What does this time mean? -- I am always particularly struck by the account that St. Mark gives of the birth of the apostolic community in the third chapter of his Gospel. Mark says: "And he appointed twelve". He makes something, he does something, it is a creative act; and he made them, "to be with him, and to be sent out to preach" (Mk 12:14). That is a twofold purpose, which in many respects seems contradictory. "To be with him": they are to be with him, in order to come to know him, to hear what he says, to be formed by him; they are to go with him, to accompany him on his path, surrounding him and following him. But at the same time they are to be envoys who go out, who take with them what they have learnt, who bring it to others who are also on a journey -- into the margins, into the wide open spaces, even into places far removed from him. And yet this paradox holds together: if they are truly with him, then they are also always journeying towards others, they are searching for the lost sheep; they go out, they must pass on what they have found, they must make it known, they must become envoys. And conversely, if they want to be good envoys, then they must always be with him. As St. Bonaventure once said: the angels, wherever they go, however far away, always move within the inner being of God. This is also the case here: as priests we must go out onto the many different streets, where we find people whom we should invite to his wedding feast. But we can only do this if in the process we always remain with him. And learning this: this combination of, on the one hand, going out on mission, and on the other hand being with him, remaining with him, is -- I believe -- precisely what we have to learn in the seminary. The right way of remaining with him, becoming deeply rooted in him -- being more and more with him, knowing him more and more, being more and more inseparable from him -- and at the same time going out more and more, bringing the message, passing it on, not keeping it to ourselves, but bringing the word to those who are far away and who nevertheless, as God’s creatures and as people loved by Christ, all have a longing for him in their hearts.

There are lost of worthwhile things to read from this apostolic journey, so please, if you can, take some time and have a peek. 

Germany was evangelised by a great Englishman, St Boniface, who is a great model of a bishop for our times too. The Church in our country is in a relatively good position, so we must always keep praying for the churches in countries such as Germany, which are facing a much tougher time than we are at the moment.

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