Tag Archives: Mauro Piacenza

The vocation to be a priest relies on a daily dialogue with Jesus, living with the Church

Mauro Card. Piacenza.jpg

Seminarians get a letter from Mauro Cardinal Piacenza, Prefect of Congregation for the Clergy for the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, advocating the need for the daily dialogue –the salvific meeting (an encounter)– with the Lord which builds a beautiful edifice of life and love. 

The cardinal highlights Pope Francis’ idea that in the priestly life there is a primacy of grace: a joy of bearing the cross of Jesus Christ, without which the priest is a mere functionary, not a disciple following a path cut out by the Lord –and, today, the Church– that is certain and life-giving. Only in the cross do we see the self-giving nature of God the Son; the lack of an embrace of the cross contributes to worldliness, secularism, the primacy of the self as the measure of all things.

Highlighted, too, is the faithfulness and thus dependence upon the proven tools of the spiritual life: silence, discernment, sacraments, spiritual direction, human and theological formation. Of course, all this demands that the formators in seminaries aren’t dysfunctional and ideological.

For more about the formation of men to be priests is a book written by the Most Reverend Massimo Camisasca, FSCB, The Challenge of Fatherhood (Human Adventure Books).


On the solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, we celebrate most significantly the day for the sanctification of priests and, as you are in the Seminary to respond in the most fitting way possible to your vocation, it is important for me to send you this letter, with great affection, so that you may feel involved and, as such, remember this important occasion.

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Examination of Conscience for priests

confession-6.jpgThe Congregation for Clergy published an examination of conscience entitled “The Priest, Minister of Divine Mercy: An Aid for Confessors and Spiritual Directors” which hopes to reinvigorate the priest’s spiritual paternity by a recovery of the sacrament of Confession by penitent and confessor. Here is yet another aspect of the new evangelization called for by Blessed John Paul II and now Pope Benedict: the renewal of priests and people through Reconciliation.

“The Priest, Minister of Divine Mercy” is the fruit of Pope Benedict’s Year for Priests. As Cardinal Piacenza notes, this “is a measure of authentic faith in the saving action of God which shows itself more clearly in the power of grace than in human strategic or pastoral initiatives which sometimes overlook this essential truth.” A sobering statement for one who works in a parish.

On the surface it seems that this text is exclusively for the clergy. Don’t be fooled into putting it aside.  I would recommend it to the laity as well. Be acquainted to the sacrament of Confession, the theology and practice of the Church and what the Church expects of her clergy. We have to help each other see Christ’s work among through concrete manifestation of Divine Mercy.

Consider the ideas found in the introduction (the link to the full text is at the end):

“It is necessary to return to the confessional as a place in which to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation, but also as a place in which “to dwell” more often, so that the faithful may  and compassion, advice and comfort, feel that they are loved and understood by God and experience the presence of Divine Mercy beside the Real Presence in the Eucharist”.

With these words, the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI addressed confessors during the recent Year for Priests, indicating to each one present the importance and therefore the apostolic urgency of rediscovering the Sacrament of Reconciliation, both from their viewpoint of penitents as well as that of ministers. Along with the daily celebration of the Eucharist, the availability of the priest to hear sacramental confessions, to welcome penitents, and to accompany them spiritually when they so request, is the real measure of a priest’s pastoral charity. By their availability, priests give joyful witness and in a certain sense take upon themselves their true identity, redefined in the Sacrament of Holy Orders and not reducible to a mere functionality. The priest is a minister, which is to say that he is at the same time both a servant and a prudent dispenser of Divine Mercy. To him is entrusted the serious responsibility “to forgive or to retain sins” (cf. John 20: 23).

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Through him, and through the power of the Spirit who is the Lord and Giver of Life, the faithful are able to experience today in the Church the joy of the Prodigal Son, who after a life of sin returned to his father’s house in the manner of a servant but was welcomed with the dignity of a son. Whenever a confessor is available, sooner or later a penitent will arrive. And if the confessor continues to make himself available, even stubbornly so, sooner or later many penitents will arrive! Our rediscovery of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, both as penitents and as ministers, is a measure of authentic faith in the saving action of God which shows itself more clearly in the power of grace than in human strategic or pastoral initiatives which sometimes overlook this essential truth.

Responding to the appeal of the Holy Father and expressing his profound intent, this aid is intended as yet another fruit of the Year for Priests, to be a helpful instrument for the ongoing formation of the Clergy and an aid in rediscovering the indispensible value of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and of Spiritual Direction. The new evangelization and the ongoing renewal of the Church, semper reformanda, draw their life blood from the true sanctification of each member of the Church. It is clear that sanctifi cation must precede both evangelization and renewal, for it lays claim to and forms the necessary precondition for every effective apostolic effort, as well as for the reform of the Clergy.

In the generous celebration of the Sacrament of Divine Mercy, each priest is called to experience for himself the uniqueness and the indispensability of the ministry entrusted to him. Such an experience will help him to avoid the “ever-changing sense of identity” which so often marks the existence of some priests. Instead, his experience will cultivate within himself that sense of wonder which fi lls his heart, for through no merit of his own he is called by God, in the Church, to break the Eucharistic Bread and to forgive the sins of others.

Here’s “The Priest, Minister of Divine Mercy: An Aid for Confessors and spiritual Directors”: Examination of Conscience for confessors and spiritual directors.pdf

Catholic reform of priesthood called by Vatican official Mauro Piacenza

MPiacenza.jpegMauro Cardinal Piacenza, Prefect of the Congregation of Clergy, is focusing on the life of the priest and how the Catholic priest lives the vocation given to him by the Holy Spirit. Piacenza is doing all he can to strengthen priesthood in all its vigor and beauty. In the style and content of Benedict XVI, Piacenza is calling for a Catholic reform of the priesthood, a reform that returns to the source. He said, 

I think it’s a big task that I do no hesitate to define reform. But reform in the Catholic sense of the word, which is to get as close as possible to the source, close to the Heart of Jesus, which is the mystery of the priesthood. Therefore, they must take care of the relationship with God.

A priest’s obedience = remaining in truth, says Archbishop Piacenza

Obedience is part of everyone’s human experience. Right now I can’t think of anyone on the planet who is not called/bound to some type of obedience. Can you? In the Catholic priesthood the man being ordained a priest makes a promise of respect and obedience to the bishop (if the man is going to be a diocesan priest), for life. How counter-cultural that is! In a regular letter to those interested, the secretary at the Congregation for Clergy has been writing periodic letters exploring various themes in the priesthood because we are in the “Year for Priests.” Today’s reflection is on priestly obedience.

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Even if they are not bound by a Solemn Vow of
obedience, ordinands profess a “promise” of “filial respect and obedience” to
their own Ordinary and his Successors. If the theological standing of a Vow and
a promise is different, the total and definitive moral obligation is identical,
and likewise identical is the offering of one’s will to the will of Another: to
the Divine will, mediated through the Church

In a time such as ours, marked as
it is by relativism and democraticism, by various forms of autonomous
individualism and libertinism, such a promise of obedience appears ever more
incomprehensible to the prevailing mindset. It is not rare for it to be
conceived as a diminution of dignity and human freedom, as a perseverance in obsolete
forms, typical of a society incapable of authentic emancipation.

We who live
authentic obedience know well that this is not the case. Obedience in the
Church is never contrary to the dignity and respect of the person, nor must it
ever be understood as an abandonment of responsibility or as a surrender
. The
Rite utilizes a fundamental adjective for the right understanding of such a
promise; it defines obedience only after mentioning “respect”, and this with
the adjective “filial”. Now the term “son”, in every language, is a relative
name, which implies, specifically, the relationship of a father and a son. It
is in this context that the obedience we have promised must be understood. It
is a context in which the father is called to truly be a father, and the son to
recognize his own sonship and the beauty of the fatherhood that has been given
to him. As happens in the law of nature, no one chooses his own father, nor
does one choose one’s own sons
. Therefore, we are all called, fathers and sons,
to have a supernatural regard for one another, one of great reciprocal clemency
and respect, that is to say the capacity to look at the other keeping always in
mind the good Teacher who has brought him into being, and who always,
ultimately, moulds him. Respect
is, by definition, simply this: to look at someone while keeping Another in

It is only in the context of “filial respect” that an authentic obedience
is possible, one which is not only formal, a mere execution of orders, but one
which is ardent, complete, attentive, which can really bring forth the fruits
of conversion and of “new life” in him who lives it.

The promise is to the
Ordinary at the time of ordination and to his “Successors”, since the Church
always draws back from an excessive personalism
: She has at heart the person,
but not the subjectivism that detracts from the power and the beauty, both
historical and theological, which characterize the Institution of obedience
The Spirit resides also in the Institution, since it is of divine origin. The
Institution is charismatic, of its very nature, and thus to be freely bound by
it in time (the Successors) means to “remain in the truth”, to persevere in
Him, present and operative in his living body, the Church, in the beauty of the
continuity of time, of ages, which joins us enduringly to Christ and to his

Archbishop Mauro Piacenza
Secretary, Congregation for Clergy
Vatican City

Priesthood: a snapshot into the vocation

In the August-September 2009 issue of Inside the Vatican, Angela Ambrogetti interviews Archbishop Mauro Piacenza, the archbishop-secretary of the Congregation of the Clergy on the year dedicated to the priest. In the interview Archbishop Piacenza notes:

1. “Among the new generations [of priests] there is a certainly a great desire for commitment, spirituality, rigorous training, a life of ascesis and penance.
2. “…the Church does not invent its doctrine [on the priesthood] but has received it from the Lord Jesus.”
3. “Believers need to find a unique paternity in the priest. The priest’s personal virtues, then the cassock itself, are indicative of his identity, which must be recognized by everyone. His presence in all fields, especially education, is fundamental for the Church’s mission. Unless we resume our educational work, we won’t be able to accomplish our apostolic mission! The Church cannot give up the education of the young, as most society is doing. It would be like renouncing our future.”
4. “The Lord Jesus gave Himself completely to man. Everything and forever are in the logic of Christian love. This complete devotion requires order and disciple. The rule of prayer, for example, must be observed. Should it fall into disuse, for any reason, it must be restored immediately. The same importance must be attached to daily rest, to a wholesome diet and to holidays, which are for the priest, time of the spirit.”
5. “The priest plays a decisive and irreplaceable role in the liturgy. He is not just an organizer of prayers and celebrations, as he is sometimes thought to be! In the liturgy, the priest stands for Christ Himself. In his offering to God, he repeats Christ’s words and gestures with effectiveness. The thing which the priest really needs in the celebration of the liturgy is prayer. The risk of triviality, superficiality and secularization can be avoided through the education of the priest and the people of God. If we all think of ourselves as being in the presence of the Lord, the liturgy will look quite different to us, along with our faith.”

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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