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IPF’s Spiritual Vision
The founding graces of the IPF charism are represented in the Institute’s logo: Mary, Spouse of the Holy Spirit, teaches that the most fruitful activity of the human person is to be able to receive God.
In her Annunciation, Mary’s active receptivity permits Jesus and His saving activity to enter the world, expressed especially in His cross, which radiates the glory of the Father. By way of her “yes,” Divine love became incarnate in time. Now, through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, all have access to the intimate love of the Trinity. Participation in this Trinitarian love is our salvation. Christ wills that we all come to share in the knowledge that He possesses of the Father’s great love, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased” (Mt 3:17).
By surrendering in faith to the Father’s love for us and leaving sin behind, we can come to share in the intimacy Christ has with the Father as His adopted sons and daughters. This faith, however, cannot remain inert or simply a comforting idea; it carries the power to awaken each heart to live a dynamic interior life. Christ told us that He came to bring us life and life abundant! (John 10:10). This awakening of the heart is ours to know, if we look to Mary. She is our teacher in how to receive God within, our teacher in how to live the abundant life of Trinitarian love.
The Way of the Priest
This appropriation of the divine indwelling, of communion with the Holy Spirit, is the personal wellspring of priestly ministry. Such communion will sustain him as he enters the lives of his parishioners and their experiences of conversion. From such interiority will flow a deep pastoral desire, a desire that finds its only rest in charity. Truly, for the priest, it is the love of Christ that compels him (2 Cor 5:14). The life of pastoral charity is irresistible to the priest who invites Christ to define his interiority and fashion his affections and conscience according to the mysteries of salvation.
Pope Benedict XVI wrote: “This is the central task of the priest: to bring God to men and women. Of course, he can only do this if he himself comes from God, if he lives with and by God… The priest must truly know God from within and thus bring him to men and women: this is the prime service that contemporary humanity needs” (Address to the Roman Curia, December 22, 2006).
He further addressed this topic: “Therefore the time spent in direct encounter with God in prayer can rightly be described as the pastoral priority par excellence: It is the soul’s breath, without which the priest necessarily remains breathless,
deprived of the oxygen of optimism and joy, which he needs if he is to allow himself to be sent, day by day, as worker into the Lord’s Harvest” (Address to Clergy, September 14, 2006).
The Way of the Laity
Living within these depths of communion with Christ is not only for the priest; rather it is the very gift God gives to the laity in and through the sacramental ministry of priests. As John Paul II noted in his apostolic exhortation, Christifideles Laici, “The ordained ministries…express and realize a participation in the priesthood of Jesus Christ that is different, not just in degree but in essence, from the participation given to all the lay faithful through Baptism and Confirmation. On the other hand, the ministerial priesthood…is ordered toward the priesthood of all the faithful” (22).
In this relationship, the priestly vocation stands as a gift to the laity who feed on the mystery of Christ at the Eucharist for their sustenance. In the Eucharist, the vocation of the laity and the vocation of the priest have their deepest communion and exist together in Christ.
“Yes…our Christian communities must become genuine ‘schools’ of prayer, where the meeting with Christ is expressed...in thanksgiving, praise, adoration, contemplation, listening and ardent devotion, until the heart truly ‘falls in love.’ Intense prayer, yes, but it does not distract us from our commitment to history: by opening our heart to the love of God it also opens it to the love of our brothers and sisters, and makes us capable of shaping history according to God’s plan” (Pope John Paul II, Novo Millennio Ineunte, 33).
Both the mission of the priest and the mission of the laity draw from the well of deep, interior prayer. The pastor is called to be the dean of the school of prayer which is the parish. In affiliating with the mission of the Institute for Priestly Formation, both priests and laity share the desire to see that Christian charity flows from and is sustained by a rich, interior life of communion with the Mysteries of Christ.
IPF’S Living Principles
The life and mission of the Institute are based upon these fundamental presuppositions:
- The Holy Spirit is the source of life and holiness.
- Scripturally grounded relational prayer is foundational to an integrated Christian life: an inquiring intellect, a balanced affect and a healthy psychological and sexual development.
- A devotion to Christ’s presence in the Eucharist is the source of Christian maturity lived in gratitude.
- Mary’s life is the model of discipleship in the Holy Spirit’s joy.
- All teaching must be faithful to Christ’s teaching authority as prophetically heard through the Catholic Church’s Magisterium.
- Apostolic spirituality requiring an interior solitude with God alone shapes a priest’s heart to lead as Chaste Spouse, Spiritual Father, Spiritual Physician and Good Shepherd.