St. Augustine's Seminary of Toronto

Pastoral Work - Homily by Archbishop L. Ventura

Wednesday, December 5th, 2001 -Official Visit to St. Augustine's by the Apostolic Nuncio

“The Lord is coming and will not delay; he will bring every hidden thing to light and reveal himself to every nation.” (Hab 2; 1 Cor 4)

It is a great pleasure for me to be here today to celebrate this moment of prayer with you. As you are no doubt aware, the Apostolic Nuncio is the Pope’s representative in Canada, sent to be an instrument of communion between the Successor of the Apostle Peter, the Bishop of Rome who presides over the unity and charity of the Church, and the dioceses throughout the world.

Since my arrival at the beginning, December of September, I have wanted to visit with you and to share with you the Holy Father’s particular concern for the future ministries of the Church.

During the season of Advent, when the Church prepares for the coming of the Lord, we need to meditate upon the signs of Jesus’ presence throughout our history and that of all mankind, basking in his presence which calls us all to come and adore.

In his post-synodal document Pastores Dabo Vobis (n. 3), the Supreme Pontiff explained that the formation of candidates for the priesthood must be profoundly rooted in “helping them come to know and follow Jesus, as they prepare to be ordained and to live the Sacrament of Holy Orders, which configures them to Christ the Head and Shepherd, the Servant and Spouse of the Church.”

The Church, as we know from the Acts of the Apostles, recognizes her identity from the beginning of her history as a community gathered in prayer, in the Apostolic tradition, and in the breaking of the bread which is the Eucharist.

The Eucharist, fons et culmen (source and summit) of Christian life (LG 11) around which the community is gathered as a family of God, needs a minister who is able to prepare this food which is essential for the Christian life. You are the future laborers who will assure the presence of nourishment for the Church; you are called to break the Eucharistic bread and to be signs of God’s love, revealed in Jesus for all humanity.

Jesus who wants to accompany all those who journey, wants to console, and share the joyful experiences and hopes of all human persons (cf GS 1). It is He who reveals the eternal values and the transcendent, deep meaning of the earthly reality.

As it was with the first disciples, you have been seduced by his voice, and invited to partake in an adventure which is not without risks, but which also promises to give you unlimited and universal love which is the love of the Lord.

The fear of failure (cf Mt 14:30) can sometimes dampen our enthusiasm but our trust is based in His word, which has the power to command the wind and water, which is a word of life and eternal life. You are being called to experience the efficacy of his word: whoever loses his life for my sake and the sake of the gospel will find it (cf Mt 16:25); you who have left everything - house, mother, father, sister, brother - will receive your recompense one hundred fold in this life (cf Lk 18:28) .

This is the rule of abandon to the will of God: it seems obscure and instead is light, it seems lost and yet it is gained, it demands poverty and yet it gives riches. This is the history of the Church of which you will be ministers, revealing the presence and mystery of God in history, through the life of holy men and women who have accepted to be his witnesses.

The world today needs those who can announce and witness to the values of the Spirit. It needs those who can restore meaning to life, consoling and pardoning, listening and loving, speaking words of truth and peace.

This time is a precious gift for each of you who are being prepared for Ordination, and also for each of us who has already been sent into the Lord’s vineyard to deepen our individual relationship with Jesus and to hear his voice, spoken in the intimacy of our hearts in prayer.

At the heart of the mystery which is this personal relationship with the Lord, is found the precious gift of the Eucharist which we celebrate daily, and during which we are encouraged by the life of Jesus himself, and fed by his body and blood.

Like the crowds who are spoken of in today’s Gospel, we too need to go up the mountain with Jesus and to sit down with him (cf Mt 15:29). The act of sitting down signifies taking time out of the routine of daily life, and that is what you do as seminarians.

The experience of the Seminary is an act of learning, of listening, of warming up to the presence and the word of the Lord and to living with your brothers who hold everything in common. Your philosophical and theological studies, your familiarity with the word of God, your exploration of the history of the Church and her communal organization, your prayers and meditation, the dialogue and the discernment of the Church through the authority of the bishop and your superiors, makes your life in the Seminary a providential time of grace for you and of hope for the Church.

On behalf of the Holy Father, I would like to encourage you not to be afraid, and to have the courage to ‘go into the deep water’ (NMI 1). I would like to take this opportunity to greet Bishop DeAngelis and Bishop Miklósházy, and to thank Father Nusca, Father Villa and the formation teams of Saint Augustine’s and Redemptoris Mater Seminaries for your unwavering devotion to the vital task of forming priests for the new millennium and for the Church in Canada.

As we prepare for the festival of Our Lord’s Nativity, let us remain in prayer with Mary the mother of Jesus and under her protection, animated by the words of the prophet Isaiah, “This is the Lord for whom we have waited; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation” (Is 25:9)


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