Pope Francis told American seminarians in Rome that they are called to take up the “challenge and task” of the synodal journey — of listening to the Holy Spirit and to one another — as they study to become priests.
The pope met with students, staff, and faculty of the Pontifical North American College (NAC) at the Vatican on the morning of Jan. 14.
“Your time here in Rome,” he said, “coincides with the synodal journey that the whole Church is presently undertaking, a journey that involves listening, to the Holy Spirit and to one another, in order to discern how to help God’s holy people live his gift of communion and become missionary disciples.”
“This is also the challenge and task you are called to take up as you walk together along the path that leads to priestly ordination and pastoral service,” the pope said in the Apostolic Palace.
The Pontifical North American College, founded in 1859, hosts seminarians and priests from the United States and Australia as they complete studies in Rome. Faculty and staff include priests, religious sisters, and lay people.
During the private audience, Pope Francis also encouraged the seminarians to foster a daily relationship with Jesus by spending time in silence before the Eucharist.
“Over the course of your lives, and especially throughout this time of seminary formation, the Lord enters into a personal dialogue with you, asking what you are looking for and inviting you to ‘come and see,’ to speak with him from your hearts and give yourselves to him confidently in faith and love,” Pope Francis said.
“Doing so involves fostering a daily relationship with Jesus, one nourished especially by prayer, meditation on the word of God, the help of spiritual accompaniment, and listening to him in silence before the tabernacle,” he underlined. “Always remember this: listening in silence before the tabernacle.”
The pope invited the seminarians to use their years in Rome to see the mystery of the unity of the Church, in which diverse people live the oneness of the faith.
“It is my hope that these experiences will help you develop that fraternal love capable of seeing the grandeur of our neighbor, of finding God in every human being, of tolerating the nuisances of life in common,” he said.
“For it is in these moments of familiar relationship with the Lord,” he continued, “that we can best hear his voice and discover how to serve him and his people generously and wholeheartedly.”