Trinità dei Pellegrini Catholic Church, Rome, October 18, 2008.
“He sent them two and two before his face into every city and place whither He Himself was to come.” (Gospel)
Esteemed Superior General, Father John Berg,
Esteemed Fellow Priests,
God, our Lord, has always wanted to save individual persons, to unlock for others the abundance of his treasures. He himself selects those who should be sent into his harvest: “You have not chosen me: but I have chosen you; and have appointed you, that you should go, and should bring forth fruit; and your fruit should remain” (Alleluja verse). The chosen are sent out as workers and not as rulers over God’s inheritance; not as owners, but as stewards of God’s secrets.
This choosing assumes a great trust: the entrusted treasure is Christ himself; therefore Christ also calls his chosen ones “friends.” “I no longer call you servants, but friends, because I have told you everything which I have heard from My Father. “ The chosen are workers, servants, and friends of the bridegroom: “I hold your friends in high esteem, O God” (Introit).
We are like St. Paul, we who have received the grace of the priestly vocation, called to announce the “unfathomable wealth of Christ.” This wealth that Christ entrusted to his Church, which over the course of the centuries was distributed widely without being diminished, depending on the time and circumstances determined by the Holy Ghost, in order to awaken men, to build up the mystical Body of Christ. Thus are the Gifts of the Spirit distributed and the different vocations in the church awakened into being: they are so numerous because they arise from the infinite treasure of the Church. And there will never be a moment in history where the Spirit of Christ will not call forth special vocations, to serve with renewed zeal “the ever ancient, but ever new Truth,” as St. Augustine says, for the honor of God and for the welfare of souls.
Twenty years ago the Lord gathered a modest group of priests around Himself, to send them also out into the world; this community of priests wanted to present itself and its unique charism before the Holy Father. They were recognized by the Vicar of Christ as a genuine gift of the Holy Ghost for the Church.
Not in vain did this community thereupon set itself under the protection of St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles, in order clearly to show their intention, to work apostolically only “cum et sub Petro“ and, only with the blessing and under the direction of the Holy Father, to open the wealth of the merciful love of Christ.
In a special way you do that, my dear friends, through the celebration of the liturgy of the Church in the form of the 18“extraordinary rite.“ This form is particularly suitable to emphasize the holiness and beauty of the rites of the Church. Since your founding, you have endeavored to bring this treasure nearer to the people. Our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI, through the Motu Proprio “Summorum Pontificum”, issued a year ago, has made the Gregorian Liturgy more accessible to the whole Church and thereby also opened new possibilities for your apostolate. On this day I would like to thank you and encourage you to realize joyfully the opportunities within your competence.
“Through all the earth their voice resounds” (Gradual), now with two hundred and eight priests from twenty-six different countries, working within one hundred and two dioceses, in seventeen countries and four continents. “Your fruit should remain” (Alleluja verse): in two seminaries one hundred and thirty-nine seminarians prepare for the priesthood for your community. The priests today work in over a hundred and fifty apostolates – eleven of which are established as personal parishes. As once with the Apostles, the Lord also still sends you forth today “as lambs among wolves” (Gospel) but gives you, at the same time, the assistance of many friends and families, some of whom have united themselves into a lay association to support your priests and seminarians with prayers and sacrifices. This community of spiritual benefactors has received the name “Confraternity of Saint Peter“. May the Lord repay their prayers and sacrifices a thousand fold and call many others to follow their example, for the building up and support of all the clergy.
We should also not overlook the date: today, the 18th of October, is the feast of the evangelist, St. Luke. In his Gospel he has left for us a living picture of Jesus and his mother Mary, particularly through the infancy narrative.
Yes, even many Marian pictures have been ascribed to him, and even if we cannot ascertain with absolute certainty whether he painted particular pictures, nevertheless, we can determine from him the most beautiful portraits of the Mother of God,
masterworks inspired by the Holy Ghost, painted in the heavenly colours of the Gospel which disclose to those who observe closely: Mary accepted what God offered to her through the archangel Gabriel and proclaimed her “Fiat,” and so gave the gift of the Savior to the world. Only through Mary do we reach Him who came to us through her (Grignon de Montfort).
The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter should distinguish itself in the admiration of Mary and the imitation of her virtues and aim for priestly perfection under her guidance and so lead the faithful to the same admiration and imitation. The imitation of the humility and the obedience of Mary is the surest way to receive the Spirit which Jesus Christ sends ever anew to his Church. She is for us the surest way to heaven, so that we, freed from all earthly things, may celebrate in eternity the victory of the Cross over evil.
Praised be Jesus Christ!