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Saturday, August 9, 2014
Priesthood is a radical Christian lifestyle. Address delivered at an international convention of priests, religious and seminarians in the Vatican, April 30, 1982, by Klaus Hemmerle, late bishop of Aachen, Germany, part 3.

ChiaraLubich-Klaus-Hemmerle“If it is true that only by comparing him to Christ that a priest can be understood both in his greatness and in his smallness, in his mandate and in his frailty, if it is true that the priest relives in space and time the deprivation that Christ filled in Himself, then no words can better express the priestly life than those of St. Paul: “It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.” (Gal 2:20).

These words hold true for every Christian just as the text of Chiara Lubich we quoted applies to all Christians. For in Baptism, the decisive ontological event that regards our person has already taken place. There is no longer the “I” that asserts itself against God and which must consequently die. Rather, it is the “I” which, having died with Jesus Christ in God makes room for Him, for God Himself, for Jesus Christ within us. I belong to Jesus Christ. Dying again and again in each moment in Him, so that He may live in me, this is the true way to find ourselves, to reach self-fulfilment. To say “you” to Jesus each time I say “I”: this is the way of sanctification which has its origins in Baptism. It is in this way that I can remain in continual contemplation, in continual union with God; and it is also under this condition that God-Love, who in Christ gives Himself to humanity, can give Himself to our times and communicate Himself to the men and women of today.

There is no truer model for accomplishing this than Mary. She looks at God alone and at His will and receives Him completely within herself. Thus she gives Him to the others, gives Him to the world. The gratia plena is also the Theotokos, the God Bearer and Mother of God.

Now, if a priest is a person who is mandated to àgere in persona Christi, this mandate cannot be limited to merely carrying out sacramental acts for which, in the strict sense, this mandate was given. The sacramental acts, the carrying out of priestly ministry will become a witness in the measure that the priest corresponds with his entire life to those acts. Therefore, the more deeply the priest lives out his Christianity, his Baptism – the more Marian he is in the sense explained above – all the more will Christ the Priest shine forth in him.

Being priests by being totally Christian! Living Christ the Priest totally, by living Mary totally – her self-giving, her serving!

The priest must give himself to God completely. Nothing else should fill his life, not possessions, demands or things he can be left to dispose of. That part of the human heart which could be kept apart for the most beautiful, noble and sacred human sentiments must be kept free for Jesus Christ alone. His hands must be empty and hold nothing other than Christ, thus enabling the priest to give Jesus Himself to others. He must be united with Jesus alone, and thus to have greater freedom.” (to be continued)

See also: Klaus Hemmerle: The Priest Today (1)   (2)

Forthcoming event

19 August 2014 – 22 August 2014

A meeting promoted by the Focolare Movement for young priests, deacons, seminarians and young people attracted to the priesthood.