Pope to seminarians: Let Mary help you fall in love with Jesus

By Hannah Brockhaus

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Pope Francis greets the pilgrims during his weekly general audience in St Peter's square at the Vatican on Feb. 26, 2014​. Credit: Ggiulio Napolitano.

Pope Francis met with priests and seminarians from the Portuguese College in Rome, asking them to allow Mary to bring them closer to Christ – just like she did for the children at Fatima.

“The meeting with Our Lady was for (the shepherd children) a graceful experience that made them fall in love with Jesus,” he said Monday.

“I must wish the same to all of you, dear friends. Above every other goal that has brought you to Rome and keeps you here, there is always this: knowing and loving Christ – As the Apostle Paul would say – trying to conform more and more to him until a total gift of self.”

Pope Francis met with priests, seminarians and religious of the Pontifical Portuguese College of Rome at the Vatican May 8.

During the audience he referenced his imminent pilgrimage to Fatima, Portugal May 12-13 for the 100th anniversary of Our Lady's appearance to three shepherd children, or “Pastorelli,” Francisco, Jacinta and Lucia.

In their meeting, Francis encouraged the Portuguese priests and seminarians to look to the example of the child visionaries, of which two, Francisco and Jacinta, will be canonized during his trip.

“Concretely you, dear priests, are called to progress, without tire, in your Christian, priestly, pastoral, and cultural formation,” he said.

“Whatever your academic specialty, your first concern always remains to grow on the path of priestly consecration, through the loving experience of God: a close and faithful God, as Blessed Francisco and Jacinta and the Servant of God Lucia felt him.”

In Mary, the children had a “tender and good teacher,” he continued, who introduces them to the “intimate knowledge of Trinitarian love and brings them to taste God as the most beautiful reality of human existence.”

“Today, contemplating their humble and yet glorious lives, we feel enticed to entrust us, too, to the praises of the same Master,” the Pope said.

Christ invites us to look for shelter under the mantle of Mary as well, who takes us by the hand like a mother, teaching us “to grow in the love of Christ and fraternal communion.”

Pope Francis said he was pleased to hear that since 1929, the chapel of the Portuguese College has had an image of Mary hanging near the altar.

“Look at her and let her look at him,” he said, “because she is your Mother and loves you so much. Let yourself be watched by her, to learn to be humble and even more brace in following the Word of God.”

It is a relationship with Our Lady that “helps us to have a good relationship with the Church,” he explained, because “both are Mothers.”

Through Mary, you can receive the embrace of Jesus, her son, he said, and having a strong friendship with Jesus, you can learn to love each person with the measure of the Heart of Christ.

He warned those present that to lack a relationship with Mary is to be like an orphan of the heart. For a priest to forget his Mother, especially in difficult times, is a very grave absence.

Concluding, Francis offered prayers for the community and their families, and asked Our Lady of Fatima to “teach us to believe, worship, hope and love like Blessed Francisco and Jacinta and Servant of God Lucia.”

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