Pope tells seminarians to put the Eucharist at the center of formation
Pope Francis had a more than hour-long informal conversation with seminarians from the Archdiocese of Madrid.
Pope Francis shakes hands with Cardinal José Cobo Cano of Madrid, Spain, during a meeting with a group of seminarians from the Archdiocese of Madrid at the Vatican Feb. 3, 2024. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- If seminarians want to advance in their discernment and practice of religious life they must place the Eucharist at the center of their formation, Pope Francis wrote.
Making God the "cornerstone" of one's life "can only be achieved through adoration," the pope said in a message to seminarians from the Archdiocese of Madrid.
Instead of reading his prepared remarks to the seminarians Feb. 3, he opted to field questions from them for more than an hour, reported COPE, the radio station owned by the Spanish bishops' conference. COPE's Vatican correspondent reported that among other things, the pope warned them against falling into ideology, "which prevents us from looking at people as brothers and sisters."
For seminarians studying how to transmit Jesus to others, "there is no other example but himself," the pope said in his written message. Jesus "will be our teacher, patient, severe, gentle or firm as we need in our discernment, because he knows us better than we know ourselves, and he waits for us, encourages us and sustains us in all our journey," he wrote.
The pope encouraged the seminarians to come face to face with the Eucharist each morning, a practice which "makes us reflect on the futility of our worldly ideas, of our desires to ascend, to appear, to stand out."
"He who is immense makes a total gift of himself, and in my hands before receiving Communion he asks me: Have you reconciled with your brother or sister? Have you dressed in festive attire? Are you ready to enter my eternal banquet?" the pope wrote.
Pope Francis told the seminarians to attend Eucharistic adoration "so that you may build the temple of God in your persons and in your communities with docility."
The group traveled to Rome to accompany their archbishop, Cardinal José Cobo Cano, in formally "taking possession" of his titular church in Rome, St. Mary of Montserrat, which was built in 1506 as a church for the Spanish pilgrims traveling to Rome. With a titular church, the cardinals become members of the clergy of Rome, evoking ancient times when the cardinals who elected popes were pastors of the city's parishes.
Meeting with the Spanish seminarians at the Vatican, Pope Francis urged them to "go into the desert" as Jesus did, so that Christ may speak directly to their hearts.
"If one is full of worldliness, of things -- no matter if they are deemed 'religious' -- God will not find a place (in him), nor will we hear him when he knocks at our door," he wrote.
"Therefore silence, prayer, fasting, penance, asceticism are necessary to free ourselves from what enslaves us and to be entirely for God," the pope wrote.