My dearest friends and brothers in the priesthood,
On the occasion of the coming solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, 7 June 2013, on which we celebrate the World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests, I cordially greet each and every one of you, and thank the Lord for the wonderful gift of the priesthood and for your fidelity to the love of Christ.
The invitation of the Lord to “remain in his love” (cf. Jn. 15:9) is valid for all the baptised, but on the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, it resounds with a new power in us, his priests. As the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI reminded us at the opening of the Year for Priests, quoting the Holy Curé of Ars, “the priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus” (cf. Homily at the celebration of Vespers of the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, 19 June 2009). We must never forget that from this heart sprang the gift of the priestly ministry.
We know from experience that “to remain in his love” pushes us forcefully towards holiness. This holiness, as we know well, is not based in doing extraordinary actions, but in allowing Christ to act in us and in making his attitudes, his thoughts and his behaviour our own. The extent of holiness derives from the extent of Christ’s presence in us, insofar as we model the whole of our life on him, by the strength of the Holy Spirit.