Pope to US Hispanic priests: Abandon yourselves to the Lord

Pope Francis warmly greets participants of the annual conference of the National Association of Hispanic Priests (ANSH) operating in the United States, and encourages them in their pastoral work, prayer, and self-abandonment to Christ.

By Deborah Castellano Lubov

“Brothers, do not put your trust only in great ideas, nor in well-designed pastoral proposals, do not look for culprits, but abandon yourselves to the One who has called you to give yourselves, and asks you only for fidelity and constancy, with the certainty that it is He who brings your work to completion and will make your efforts bear good fruit.”

This was the encouragement Pope Francis offered on Thursday morning in the Vatican to the participants of the annual conference of the National Association of Hispanic Priests (ANSH) operating in the United States.

The Holy Father began his remarks thanking the priests and conference participants for their visit.

“I have read carefully the questions you have asked me – there are many – and, thinking of how I could answer them,” the Argentinian Pope noted, “I remembered the words the Lord said to St Teresa of Jesus when the books she trusted were taken from her: ‘I will give you a living book,’ Christ is the book I strongly recommend to you.'”

Must find the Lord constantly in prayer

The Holy Father emphasized to those before him the need to cultivate and nurture their personal prayer lives.

“You have to look for Him, in Scripture and the Gospel, in silent worship, because we have lost the sense of worship a bit. We have to find the Lord in the silence of worship.

“If I were to ask now – I will not ask this so as not to make anyone blush – but if I were to ask now,” he continued, “how many hours of worship you do each week, that would be a good test. I will throw the question out there, but everyone answers within themselves. ‘No, because it is too much effort,’ ‘because here,’ ‘because there.’ If you don’t pray, if you don’t worship, your life is worth little.”

“If you don’t pray, if you don’t worship, your life is worth little.”

Be there for the people, even if outside ‘hours’

The Holy Father likewise reminded priests that they are not ’employees’ following ‘timetables,’ and instead, must be there when the people need them.

“In this, I ask you, please beware of settling. Don’t settle, don’t settle. Sometimes the modern world brings us timetables, ‘Father, can you hear my confession? ‘No, the timetable is from such and such an hour.’ Please, people first, then the timetable, don’t become ’employees’ of the sacred. That is the danger of this culture, review your dedication to people, your openness of heart.”

The Holy Father exhorted them to pray, with simple and familiar words, fraternally welcome others, and persevere in their work.

“Do not spare yourselves,” he said.

Alleviating Christ’s suffering today

The Holy Father recalled that a National Eucharistic Congress in the United States is being prepared for next year and that Blessed Charles Acutis and Saint Emmanuel Gonzalez have been chosen as its patrons, whom the Pope praised as models of silent listening, praying, and discerning, before the tabernacle.

Pope Francis also suggested these models of holiness demonstrate the need to react to Jesus’ ongoing suffering.

“In every tabernacle, in every consecrated ciborium,” he continued, “we see the Cross, and it asks us: ‘Can we do something to alleviate Christ’s suffering today?'”

“In every tabernacle, in every consecrated ciborium,” he continued, “we see the Cross, and it asks us: ‘Can we do something to alleviate Christ’s suffering today?”

The Holy Father urged them to reflect on to see how they can help every brother and sister who suffers, noting that God asks them never to abandon those in need.  Drawing inspiration from the saint and blessed, the Pope said, will offer wisdom and models of faith and service.

Abandonment to the Lord

The Holy Father urged them to abandon themselves to the Lord, who, he said, asks only for their loyalty, and will bring their efforts to completion and help them bear good fruit.

Pope Francis concluded with these words of advice, and expressing his wish that their good works to help others make the priests so tired, that they have no trouble falling asleep at night.