Vatican City, 10 November 2014 (VIS) – In the evening of Saturday 8 November Pope Francis sent a message to the 750 French seminarians gathered at the Marian shrine at Lourdes, France from 8 to 10 November, for the autumn Plenary Assembly of the Episcopal Conference of France. In the text, the Pope urges them to remember the three key words in their lives as seminarians: fraternity, prayer and mission.
In relation to fraternity, he emphasises that “the priestly mission cannot in any case be individual, and certainly not individualistic”; instead, together they should “bear witness to the love with which we recognise Jesus' disciples”. With regard to prayer, he remarks that “everything that you learn comes to life in prayer”, and recalls that Jesus Himself retired in silence and solitude to immerse himself in the mystery of His Father. “May your prayer be an appeal to the Spirit, Who builds the Church, leads the disciples and infuses with pastoral charity. … At the foundation of your formation there is the Word of God, that enters you, nourishes you, and enlightens you”, he writes, urging the seminarians to dedicate long periods each day to prayer, since “it is in prayer that you encounter the loving presence of the Lord and allow yourselves to be transformed by Him”.
Finally, in reference to mission, the Pope comments that it is “inseparable from prayer, as prayer opens you to the Spirit, and the Spirit guides you in mission”, and encourages them to prioritise, in their encounters with others, the most marginalised. He also urges them to entrust themselves to Mary and to allow themselves to be guided by her: “Mary accompanied Jesus in His mission. She was present at the Pentecost when the disciples received the Holy Spirit, and she maternally accompanied the first steps of the Church”.