In an address to seminarians preparing for the priesthood, Pope Francis spoke about the importance of forming “a climate of prayer and fraternity.” This atmosphere, he said, allows seminarians to grow closer to “the sentiments of Jesus Christ, His love for the Father and for the Church,” and His dedication to the people of God. He warned them that they are not preparing to be functionaries, but true shepherds in the image of Jesus the Good Shepherd.
Being a “good shepherd” in His image is something no one can achieve on his own – but Pope Francis reminded them that “it is not our work… It is the work of the Holy Spirit.” Only by allowing oneself to be shaped – as clay is shaped by the potter — will seminarians be able “to shepherd the people of God and guide them “along the Way that is Jesus.”
This, the Holy Father said, “means meditating every day on the Gospel… experiencing the mercy of God in the Sacrament of Reconciliation… eating the Eucharist with faith and with love… being men of prayer. If you are not disposed to follow along this street, it would be better for you to have the courage to seek another path. Take seriously the words of the Prophets: “Woe to the wicked Shepherds who pasture themselves and not their flocks. May this ‘woe,’ make you reflect seriously on your future.”