Vatican City, 8th December 2008

Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary



Reverend and dear brothers,


            On this Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception 2008, the first anniversary of the Letter by which the initiative of Eucharistic Adoration for the Sanctification of Priests and Spiritual Motherhood was presented, I am pleased to be able to address myself to you once more who live and work in various parts of the world, to share the joys and consolations which the Lord has allowed us to receive through his providential Goodness, to be confirmed in the happiness and certainty of our vocation, continuing to scatter untiringly the abundant seed of the Gospel.


            The response to this simple but effective initiative has been truly very generous and encouraging: one has the impression, indeed the assurance, that having demonstrated the heart of the vocational and priestly question once more to be in the Eucharist, in the Risen Lord, Sacramentally (that is to say truly) present in the human-divine time and space of the Church, through His Spirit and the Priestly ministry, it has concretely answered the thirst of many who have responded to the suggestions offered with cordial and Christian docility.


            The “alliance” of prayer and Eucharistic Adoration now exists!

            Where the prayer of Adoration for priests was already a well established habit it has been strengthened and confirmed; where it has not already existed a new microcosm has been given life to create a network which envelops all priests, and will envelop them ever the more, silently and mysteriously but nevertheless effectively, accompanying them in their irreplaceable ministry.


            Providence, which is always extraordinarily generous to us, her unworthy children, has disposed that the 150th Anniversary of the Dies Natalis (the birth into heaven) of the blessed Curé of Ars, St John Mary Vianney, will occur next year, the Year of Our Lord 2009, the patron of all the Parish Priests of the world and a wonderfully enigmatic figure for every priest.


            Regarding him, who is more than ever our Saintly Confrere, we shall have the joy of celebrating together on the forthcoming Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the 19th June 2009, by welcoming to Rome the reliquary of the heart of the Holy Curé and praying a Vigil of Eucharistic Adoration in a spirit of affective and effective ecclesial communion, which will make us all feel close together even if physically far apart.


            This memorial may also be an opportune time in which to indicate, or to repeat where it might be necessary, that which is the authentic priestly identity, sacramentally and christologically established, which has its deep and immediate roots not in a human will but in the positive and immutable will of Our Lord Jesus Christ, who “called to himself those whom he wished” and who yet today continues to call men that they might be totally at the service of God and, therefore, of their brethren. This identity gives priests capable of proclaiming the Kerigma in a frank and free manner to every human condition, accompanying the men of our time to an authentic experience of the Risen One, which is personal and communitarian; in short, priests taking up the great and always current theme of the mission which is in every respect a permanent feature of the very identity of the Church.


            With the imminent Solemnity of the Nativity it is even more suitable to look with joyous wonder at all the Lord has given us, at all that he ever prepares for us, beyond our greatest expectation. It is He, in truth, whom we await, it is He whom we love, because only He can fully respond to the most profound needs of our human, Christian and priestly being.


            Whilst wishing each one of you a fruitful ministry in this time of Advent, conscious above all of how the Sacrament of Reconciliation should and must be celebrated with particular availability and abundance, and leaving every intention to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I invite everyone to live ever more fruitfully and joyously the intimate bond which runs between the spiritual life and the daily exercise of the pastoral ministry.





                                                           Claudio Card. Hummes





                                                                                               XMauro Piacenza

                                                                                   Titular Archbishop of  Vittoriana