May the peace of the Lord be with you!
In my first year of service to the Holy Father, Benedict XVI, in the Congregation for Clergy -- which also has catechesis entrusted to it -- I wish to extend to you my cordial and fraternal greeting.
I ask almighty God, who is good and great in his love, and rich in mercy, to bless you in a very special way.
I do this on the feast day of St. Luke the Evangelist, recalling his foundational contribution to the universal proclamation of Jesus Christ dead and risen, and of his kingdom.
First of all, I want to express my admiration for your often untiring ecclesial service in the area of the transmission of Catholic faith to so many catechumens and those entrusted to you who have been already baptized.
I assure you of my affection, as my dearest brothers and sisters, committed to the good fight of faith, which often requires heroic sacrifices, to which, nonetheless, you respond with joy and perseverance.
In daily faithfulness to God and man, you continue to be and represent a real asset for your parish communities. You are one of the most promising signs with which the Lord endlessly comforts and surprises us.
In a dedicated fashion and with passion, seek to acquire and exhibit that image, which is required of teachers, educators and witnesses of the truth, by faithfully passing on that truth to contemporary man, in all of its fullness and integrity.
Be able to strengthen your faith, “always ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope' (1 Peter 3:15), with prayer, with continuing education, with charity. Be always joyful and zealous so that, also through your work, 'in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong glory and dominion' (1 Peter 4:11).
I urge you to pray and cultivate with trust a relationship of love, devotion, attentiveness and silence with the Lord.
In a world which is often hopeless, in the grip of violence and selfishness, let every gesture, every smile, every word of yours be a living testimony that the Lord is victorious over sin and death, and that love is possible!
Rediscover the deep roots of your witness in baptism and confirmation. Nourish your service as catechists with the food of the strong: the Eucharist.
Reveal the face of Christ to all those you meet, through the grace and faithfulness of your service.
May the Spirit of the Lord render your life new and make communion among you grow.
“May the world of our time, which is searching, sometimes with anguish, sometimes with hope, be enabled to receive the Good News not from evangelizers who are dejected, discouraged, impatient or anxious, but from ministers of the Gospel whose lives glow with fervor, who have first received the joy of Christ, and who are willing to risk their lives so that the kingdom may be proclaimed and the Church established in the midst of the world” ('Evangelii Nuntiandi,' 80).
I invoke upon you the blessing that was so dear to St. Francis of Assisi:
'The Lord bless you and keep you.
May he show his face to you and have mercy.
May he turn his countenance to you and give you peace.'
And may the Virgin Mary, star of evangelization, guide you and help you, and be for you a sign of sure hope.
From the Vatican, Oct. 18, 2007
Feast day of St. Luke the Evangelist
Cardinal Cláudio Hummes Prefect Congregation for Clergy
This article is originally found on page 5 of the printed edition.