“The Father anointed our Lord Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. May Jesus preserve you to sanctify the Christian people and to offer sacrifice to God”; “Accept from the holy people of God the gifts to be offered to him. Know what you are doing, and imitate the mystery you celebrate: model your life on the mystery of the Lord’s cross”.

Pontificale Romanum: De Ordinatione Episcopi, presbyterorum et diaconorum,

Edition typical, Typis Polyglottis Vaticanis 1990)


From the Vatican, 27th March 2010


Dear Brothers in the Priesthood,


In these paschal days we will live the Mystery of our Redemption, and we will carry out actions and speak words that are truly found at the heart of our priestly existence. On Good Friday we will live that humble and prophetic action of prostration, just as we did on the day of our Ordination; in this way during the Sacred Triduum we will have the opportunity to welcome the gifts renewed by grace, begging the Divine Providence to be able to offer plentiful fruit for ourselves and for the Salvation of the world.

            As the formula for the anointing with Chrism reminds us, we are clothed with the very power of Christ, with that potestas with which the Father consecrated His only Son in the Holy Spirit, and which has been given to us precisely to sanctify His People and to offer the Eucharistic Sacrifice. Any contrary use of the sacramental power received in Sacred Order is illegitimate and dangerous, both for our salvation and for the good of the Church herself. As if calling to mind the absolute disproportion between the greatness of the Mystery and the smallness of the man, it is not by chance that the rite recalls: “Know what you are doing”. Although we will never be able to fully appreciate the great Mystery which has been placed in our hands, we are nevertheless called to a continuous striving after moral perfection, so as to live “the Mystery which is placed in our hands” to be “imitators of Christ”.

            This is the extraordinary and undimmed daily newness of the Priesthood: the Mystery is placed in our hands! The Lord of time and history, he who made all that exists, from whom we come and to whom we return, the Author of life, makes some of his poor creatures participants in his own saving power, entrusting himself, like a defenceless sacrificial lamb, completely into their hands. May this entrustment never become a betrayal! May he keep awake the consciousness of the embrace of the predilection, of which we are the objects, and may he also lead us, especially in the time of testing, to repeat our total “yes”: a “yes” conscious of its own limits, but not held back by them; a “yes” free from all inferiority complexes; a “yes” conscious of history, but never intimidated in the face of it; “yes” which, beginning from that spoken by the Blessed Virgin Mary in the house of Nazareth has travelled down the centuries to become actual in the Saints and in the Today of our Christian existence.

            A Priest aware of what he does, conforming his life to Christ, overcomes the world! This is the victory which is the real “proof” of the Resurrection of Christ.





X Mauro Piacenza

Titular Archbishop of Vittoriana