Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Vision of Father Simón

Francisco Ribalta 1565 - 1628
The Vision of Father Simón 1612
Oil on canvas
210.8 x 110.5 cm
The National Gallery, London

Father Francisco Gerónimo Simón (1578 - 1612) was a priest of the parish of S. Andrés, Valencia. He led an ascetic life and was renowned for his piety and charity. The painting faithfully follows contemporary accounts of the regular visions of Christ carrying the cross seen by Father Simón. He initially had these in the Calle de Caballeros, which was a street along which condemned criminals were led to execution.

This work was probably commissioned by the priests of S. Andrés sometime after Father Simón's death for the chapel where his body was laid to rest. It was completed and placed on the altar in the new chapel on 5 September 1612.

On Sunday 20 June 2010, Pope Benedict XVI ordained 14 men to the priesthood for the Diocese of Rome

The Pope warned against careerism and ambition, noting that “the priesthood can never be a way to achieve security in life or to gain a position in society”, rather it must be rooted in conformity to Christ and his total gift of self.

Here is an extract:

"I wish to highlight a second element in today's Gospel.

Immediately after Peter's confession, Jesus proclaims his passion and resurrection, and he follows this announcement with a lesson on the path his disciples must take, which is to follow Him, the Crucified, follow the road of the Cross.

And he adds - with a paradoxical expression - that being a disciple means "losing oneself", but only in order to fully rediscover oneself (cf. Lk 9.22 to 24).

What does this mean for every Christian, but especially what does it mean for a priest?

Discipleship, but we can safely say: the priesthood can never be a way to achieve security in life or to gain a position in society. The man who aspires to the priesthood to enhance his personal prestige and power has misunderstood the meaning at the root of this ministry.

The man who wants above all to achieve a personal ambition, achieve personal success, will always be a slave to himself and public opinion. In order to be considered, he will have to flatter; to say what people want to hear, he will have to adjust to changing fashions and opinions and thus deprive himself of the vital relationship with the truth, reducing himself to condemning tomorrow what he would praise today.

A man who plans his life like this, a priest who sees his ministry in these terms, does not truly love God and others, only himself and, paradoxically, ends up losing himself.

The priesthood - let us always remember - rests on the courage to say yes to another will, in the awareness, to be nurtured everyday, that our compliance with the will of God, our "immersion" in this will, does not cancel our originality, rather on the contrary, it helps us enter deeper into the truth of our being and our ministry. "