Pope to seminarians: Cling to Christ and serve His people

Pope Francis meets with Spanish seminarians from Madrid, and encourages men preparing for the priesthood to draw their inspiration from Christ in prayer.

03 February 2024

By Devin Watkins

“From Jesus we do not learn things. We welcome Him; we cling to Him, to be able to bring Him to others.”

Pope Francis offered that reminder to men studying at the Archdiocesan Seminary of Madrid, Spain, on Saturday.

In his prepared remarks, the Pope noted that Cardinal José Cobo Cano has come to Rome to take possession of his titular church of Santiago and Montserrat.

He said the church’s patron saints—St. James and the Blessed Virgin Mary—combine the “apostolic faith and love for Mary that characterizes all of Spain.”

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Finding the cornerstone in adoration

Turning to the seminarians, Pope Francis said many Spanish bishops have sought to turn their pastoral dreams into reality through their seminaries by providing high-quality formation for men preparing for the priesthood.

He pointed to the words of St. Manuel Gonzalez Garcia (1877-1940), who said he wanted a seminary “in which the Eucharist was: in the pedagogical order, the most effective stimulus; in the scientific, the first teacher and the first subject; in discipline, the most vigilant inspector; in the ascetic, the most vivid model; in the economic, the great providence; and in the architectural, the cornerstone.”

The Pope urged seminarians to let Christ be their cornerstone and stimulus for their pastoral activity, saying this can only be achieved through adoration.

“Jesus,” he said, “will make us a pedagogue—patient, severe, sweet, or firm as we need in our discernment, because He knows us better than we know ourselves, and He waits for, encourages, and supports us in all our journey.”

Greatest lesson of humility

Pope Francis went on to say the greatest lesson Jesus teaches us is humility, which He imparts through many varied parables, comparisons, and events of His life.

Discipline, he added, is required for all seminarians and priests, so that they may faithfully participate and eventual celebrate the Eucharist every day.

The Pope said men consecrated to the service of God and His people must also be vigilant and practice asceticism.

“Silence, prayer, fasting, penance, asceticism are necessary to free ourselves from what enslaves us and to be all for God,” he said.


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Spiritual and charitable labours

Pope Francis concluded his remarks to the seminarians of Madrid by inviting them to turn their interior spiritual labours into an outward expression of God’s closeness to people around them in their pastoral activities.

“Have confidence in the One who has called you to this beautiful task,” he said, “and prostrate yourselves in adoration to be able to build with docility the temple of God in yourselves and in your communities.”

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