VATICAN CITY (CNS): Pope John Paul II prayed that the more than 400,000 Catholic priests in the world would never take for granted the mystery and blessing of being able to celebrate the Eucharist.
In promoting vocations to the priesthood, “your own witness counts more than anything else”, the Pope told priests in his annual Holy Thursday message to them.
The message focused particularly on how priests can encourage vocations among altar boys by the way they live, pray and celebrate Mass.
“In your hands they see the Eucharist ‘take place’, on your face they see its mystery reflected, and in your heart they sense the summons of a great love,” the Pope wrote.
The Holy Thursday remembrance of Jesus’ Last Supper marks the institution of both the Eucharist and the priesthood, Pope John Paul said.
Although Christ is present when the faithful gather, the assembly “is not by itself able to celebrate the Eucharist or to provide the ordained minister”, because the priest, like the Eucharist, is a gift of God, Pope John Paul said.