Love of Christ Seen as Secret of Priests' Happiness

Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos' Letter for a World Day of Prayer

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 10, 2004 (Zenit.org).- A letter from the prefect of a Vatican congregation invites priests to fall in love with Christ as the secret of their happiness.



The invitation comes from Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos, prefect of the Congregation for Clergy, in a letter sent for the World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests, to be observed June 18, solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The letter, whose motto is "The Eucharist, Wellspring of Sanctity in Priestly Ministry," says that "what is needed to attain happiness is not a comfortable life, but a heart in love, such as Christ's."

"The most sacred and merciful heart of Jesus, pierced by a lance on the cross in a sign of his total self-giving, is an inexhaustible font of true peace; it is the full manifestation of the sacrificial love of oblation with which he 'loved them to the end,'" the cardinal writes.

In this connection, the "solemnity of his Sacred Heart invites us to the joy of charity, in a gift of ourselves to others," he explains.

The World Day, instituted by John Paul II, reminds priests that "Men need to contemplate in the priest the face of Christ," the cardinal continues.

The messenger of the devotion to the Sacred Heart was Sister Mary Margaret Alacoque (1647-1690), who in the French town of Paray le Monial, witnessed the apparitions of Jesus who wished her to communicate his deep love for every man and woman.

In this context, Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos says to priests that they should not "be intimidated by difficulties, we have faith in him! The priestly vocation, planted in you with efficacy by Christ and accepted by you with generous humility, will bear abundant fruit in such a fertile terrain."

"Like Peter, let us go to meet Jesus our Savior fixing our eyes on his merciful countenance," he adds.

"Only the view of the Crucified and Resurrected, contemplated in our prayer and in the sacrament of confession, can overcome the force of gravity of our smallness, our limits and our sins," the cardinal states.

"The arm of God sustains us," he adds, "and the dark waters, agitated by our pride and Satan, will have lost their power."

"Almighty God asks you, diocesan priests, missionaries and religious, to do all you can with enthusiasm in this sacred ministry, so as to rediscover, especially in the holy Eucharist, the beauty of your priestly vocation," the Vatican prefect continues.

"The priest is a thing of immensity, if he himself were to realize it he would die," he explains, quoting St. John Vianney, the curé of Ars.

"We must avoid obstacles of activism, which drown the best apostolic and pastoral plans, and dry up many busy lives in a service which is not adequately watered with the Word of God and his presence in the Most Blessed Sacrament," Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos counsels.

The cardinal concludes by praying to God, through the intercession of Mary, on the 150th anniversary of the proclamation of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, for priests "to be in every place heralds of the Gospel, experts in humanity, knowers of the hearts of modern men, participators in their joy and hope, sorrow and sadness, and to be at the same time, contemplative and in love with God."