POPE FRANCIS TWEETED TODAY: Our priestly life is given over in service, in closeness to the People of God, with the joy of those who hear the Lord.

Join Fr. Andrew Apostoli this Sunday, June 5, on EWTN’s Prime Time Sunday at 8 pm (ET) as we talk about my book, “A Holy Year in Rome.” I had a wonderful time visiting the campus of St. Joseph Seminary in Yonkers – where the ITV studios are located – when I was in New York for my book promo tour. Fr. Andrew and I had lunch on May 3, discussed the key points he wanted to make and then taped the show. It was a lot of fun and I wish you a lovely Sunday evening as you join us for this conversation.

Above all, I wish you happy reading!

I had many outside commitments today and have time for only one news story in this column, that is, the papal homily for the Jubilee of Priests that I dedicate to each and every one of my many wonderful, treasured priest friends (and bishops!)! These words are Francis’ gift to each of you!


Join me this weekend for Part II of my conversation with Fr. Brian Kolodiejchuk, MC, the postulator of the cause of canonization of Blessed Mother Teresa, foundress of the Missionaries of Charity. We spoke when he was in Rome for the announcement by Pope Francis of the decrees of canonization for Blessed Mother Teresa and four others. The September 4 date for her canonization was also announced that day. Listen as Fr. Brian tells riveting stories about this future saint, and how he came to be the postulator for her cause.

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Pope Francis closed the three-day Jubilee for priests with Mass this morning in St. Peter’s Square in the presence of 6,000 priests and seminarians from around the world.


The Jubilee for Priests fell on the 160° anniversary of the institution of the feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus by Pope Pius IX in 1856. Since 2002, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is also a special Day of Prayer for the sanctification of priests. The First Friday of each month is devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The Pope spoke of today’s feast in his opening words: “This celebration of the Jubilee for Priests on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus invites us all to turn to the heart, the deepest root and foundation of every person, the focus of our affective life and, in a word, his or her very core. Today we contemplate two hearts: the Heart of the Good Shepherd and our own heart as priests.

In his homily, the Holy Father reflected on “two hearts: the Heart of the Good Shepherd” and the hearts of priests.

“The Heart of the Good Shepherd,” said Francis, “is not only the Heart that shows us mercy, but is itself mercy. There the Father’s love shines forth; there I know I am welcomed and understood as I am; there, with all my sins and limitations, I know the certainty that I am chosen and loved. Contemplating that heart, I renew my first love: the memory of that time when the Lord touched my soul and called me to follow him, the memory of the joy of having cast the nets of our life upon the sea of his word.”

“The Heart of the Good Shepherd,” continued the Pope, “tells us that his love is limitless; it is never exhausted and it never gives up. There we see his infinite and boundless self-giving; there we find the source of that faithful and meek love which sets free and makes others free;….        The Heart of the Good Shepherd reaches out to us, above all to those who are most distant. There the needle of his compass inevitably points, there we see a particular ‘weakness’ of his love, which desires to embrace all and lose none.

The Holy Father explained that “contemplation of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Heart of the Good Shepherd, is an invitation to priests to reflect on the question, ‘Where is my heart directed?’ Priestly ministry, he said, is often caught up in “plans, projects, and activities,” and, while this is necessary, priests should consider that the Heart of Jesus is directed to two treasures: the Father and ourselves. Jesus’ days, he said, “were divided between prayer to the Father and encountering people.” Like Jesus, the priest should have his heart turned towards God and towards his brothers and sisters.

“To help our hearts burn with the charity of Jesus the Good Shepherd, we can train ourselves to do three things suggested to us by today’s readings: seek out, include and rejoice.

“SEEK OUT. The prophet Ezekiel reminds us that God himself goes out in search of his sheep (Ez 34:11, 16). As the Gospel says, he “goes out in search of the one who is lost” (Lk 15:4), without fear of the risks.    . Such is a heart that seeks out – a heart that does not set aside times and spaces as private, a heart that is not jealous of its legitimate quiet time and never demands that it be left alone. A shepherd after the heart of God does not protect his own comfort zone; he is not worried about protecting his good name, but rather, without fearing criticism, he is disposed to take risks in seeking to imitate his Lord.

“INCLUDE. Christ loves and knows his sheep. He gives his life for them, and no one is a stranger to him (cf. Jn 10:11-14).  His flock is his family and his life. He is not a boss to feared by his flock, but a shepherd who walks alongside them and calls them by name….”

“REJOICE: God is “full of joy” (cf. Lk 15:5). His joy is born of forgiveness, of life risen and renewed, of prodigal children who breathe once more the sweet air of home. The joy of Jesus the Good Shepherd is not a joy for himself alone, but a joy for others and with others, the true joy of love. This is also the joy of the priest. He is changed by the mercy that he freely gives. In prayer he discovers God’s consolation and realizes that nothing is more powerful than his love. He thus experiences inner peace, and is happy to be a channel of mercy, to bring men and women closer to the Heart of God. Sadness for him is not the norm, but only a step along the way; harshness is foreign to him, because he is a shepherd after the meek Heart of God.”