Pope Francis celebrates ‘the birthday of the priesthood’ with 1,800 priests on Holy Thursday

Pope Francis celebrates ‘the birthday of the priesthood’ with 1,800 priests on Holy Thursday

Pope Francis presided over a Chrism Mass at which more than 1,800 priests, bishops, and cardinals renewed the promises made at their ordinations on April 6, 2023. VATICAN MEDIA

By Courtney Mares

Catholic News Agency

April 6, 2023

VATICAN— On Holy Thursday, Pope Francis presided over a chrism Mass at which more than 1,880 priests, bishops, and cardinals renewed the promises made at their ordinations.

Pope Francis thanked the priests for the “hidden good” that they do, often in a ministry carried out “with great effort and little recognition.”

In his homily, the pope said that on “the birthday of the priesthood,” he wanted to highlight the vital presence that the Holy Spirit plays in the ministry and life of every priest.

“For without the Spirit of the Lord, there can be no Christian life; without his anointing, there can be no holiness,” he said in St. Peter’s Basilica on April 6.

Holy Thursday celebrates the institution of the Eucharist and institution of the sacrament of the priesthood at the Last Supper. Pope Francis will celebrate a Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Thursday evening at a youth detention center in Rome.

During the Vatican’s chrism Mass, the pope, as the bishop of Rome, blessed the oil of the sick, the oil of catechumens, and the chrism oil, which will be used in the diocese during the coming year.

Forty-seven cardinals, 42 bishops, and 1,800 priests living in Rome concelebrated the Mass.

Pope Francis, who was hospitalized for three days last week, arrived at the Mass in a wheelchair and sat in a white chair to the side of the basilica’s main altar.

Speaking during his homily, the pope underlined how the Holy Spirit transformed the lives of Jesus’ apostles after Pentecost.

“After receiving the Spirit, Peter’s fear and wavering dissipated; James and John, with a burning desire to give their lives, no longer sought places of honor; the others who had huddled fearfully in the Upper Room, went forth into the world as apostles,” he said.

The pope added that the Lord “has poured out upon us the anointing of the Holy Spirit, the same Spirit who descended upon the apostles.”

He urged the clerics not to look for fulfillment in one’s own abilities, promotions, or position, but to discover that “the spiritual life becomes liberating and joyful, once we are no longer concerned to save appearances and make quick fixes, but leave the initiative to the Holy Spirit, and, in openness to his plans, show our willingness to serve wherever and however we are asked.”

Pope Francis gifted a book to the priests at the Mass by René Voillaume called “La Segunda Llamada” (The Second Call).

Quoting the book, Francis said that a decisive stage of the spiritual life can come at a moment of disillusionment or a personal crisis when “the ultimate choice has to be made between Jesus and the world, between heroic charity and mediocrity, between the cross and comfort, between holiness and dutiful fidelity to our religious obligations.”

“It is that grace-filled moment when, like the disciples at Easter, we are called to be ‘sufficiently humble to admit that we have been won over by the suffering and crucified Christ, and to set out on a new journey, that of the Spirit, of faith and of a love that is strong, yet without illusions.’”

The pope added another line from the book: “‘It is not enough to abandon boat and nets in order to follow Jesus for a certain time; it also demands going to Calvary, learning its lesson and receiving its fruit, and persevering with the help of the Holy Spirit to the end of a life meant to conclude in the perfection of divine charity.’”

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