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The joy of pastoral fatherhood

· The Pope's Mass at Santa Marta ·

The grace of fatherhood: this was the theme of Pope Francis' reflection at Mass this morning, Wednesday 26 June, in the Chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae. The Pontiff pointed out in particular that “all of us, to be adult, must feel the joy of fatherhood”. This is a topic, he immediately added, that also applies in the case of the celibate priesthood, because “fatherhood means giving life to others”. This is why for priests it will mean “pastoral fatherhood, spiritual fatherhood”, which is always and in any case, “giving life, becoming fathers”.

Concelebrating with the Holy Father were Cardinal Salvatore De Giorgi, accompanied by friends and by about 80 priests who are close to him and wanted to celebrate the 60th anniversary of his ordination on 28 June 1953.

In his homily Pope Francis drew on the day's readings, reflecting above all on the first one, from the Book of Genesis  (15:1-12; 17-18), which speaks of Abraham's covenant with the Lord. Our father in faith, he explained, “felt that the Lord loved him deeply, that he had promised him many things, but felt in need of offspring. He felt within him “that cry of nature: I want to have a son”. Then, the Pope said, he spoke to the Lord of his “desire to become a father”. For “when a man does not have this wish” there is something lacking in him, “something is wrong”.

Further, Abraham's fatherhood may be seen again, the Pope continued,  at another moment: “when he is preparing the sacrifice: he takes the animals, the cuts them up but the birds of prey swoop down. And I find it really moving to see this 90-year old man, stick in hand, defending the sacrifice, defending what belongs to him”. It is an image Pope Francis associates with that of “a father defending the family”, “a father who knows” what “defending children” means. And this, he continued, “is a grace that we priests must implore: the grace of pastoral fatherhood, of spiritual fatherhood”. Indeed, although we can all have sins, even many sins, not having spiritual sons and daughters, not becoming pastors, is equivalent to living a life that does not reach the end but stops half way”.

After linking his theme with the presence of Cardinal De Giorgi and the friends who accompanied him, the Holy Father said: “today the Lord also gives us the grace of this Bible passage in this Mass oin which we are celebrating a father. I do not know what dear Salvatore did but I am sure he has been a father” and the participation of so many priests in his rejoicing  “is a sign of it”.

Lastly the Pope summed up his reflection with recourse to three images. Two come directly from the first reading: “the icon of Abraham who asks for a son”, and “the icon of Abraham, stick in hand, defending his family”. The third is that of the elderly Simeon in the temple. When he receives the new life, Simeon, the Pope concluded, “breaks into a spontaneous liturgy, a liturgy of joy”.




St. Peter’s Square

Dec. 10, 2019