None of this is easy, however, unless we are accustomed to find moments of silence throughout our day and to set aside the activism of Martha in order to learn the quiet contemplation of Mary. We find it hard to give up that activism – and very often activism can be an escape – because once we stop running around, what we immediately feel is not peace but a kind of emptiness; and in order to keep from feeling that, we are unwilling to slow down. Work is a distraction, in order not to enter into desolation. Yet desolation is a little point of encounter with God. Once we accept the desolation that is born of silence, fast from our activities and words, and find the courage to take a sincere look at ourselves, everything takes on a light and peace no longer based on our own strengths and abilities. We need to learn to let the Lord bring his work to fulfilment in each of us and to “prune” all that is unfruitful, barren or unworthy of our calling. Perseverance in prayer is more than simply remaining faithful to its practice: it means not running away in those times when prayer draws us into the desert. The way of the desert is the way that leads to intimacy with God, provided we do not run away or find ways to avoid this encounter. In the desert “I will speak tenderly to her”, says the Lord to his people through the words of the prophet Hosea (Hos 2:14). This is something that a priest must ask himself: if he is able to let himself be led into the desert. Spiritual guides who accompany priests have to understand and help them and pose this question: are you able to let yourself be drawn into the desert? Or do you go right away to the oasis of television or something else?

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Pope Francis

Address to the International Theological Symposium on the Priesthood

February 17th, 2022


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