Sunday 2 February 2014

The delicacy of a priest

The wonderfully delicate way in which Fr Pozzoli handles the family, in the story of Pope Francis' vocation to the priesthood:
6. In 1955 he [Fr Pozzoli] played a decisive role in the story of my vocation. On 21 September 1954 I got thrown from a horse. I met Fr Carlos B. Duarte Ibarra in Flores (my parish). I went to confession to him by chance... and there — and without sitting at the tax desk like the saint of the day [Matthew] — the Lord was awaiting me “miserando et eligendo”. Then and there I had no doubts that I should become a priest. ...
... I didn’t say anything at home until November 1955: that year I was qualifying at the Industrial School (it was a six year program) and I enrolled for technical chemistry. At home they were doubtful. They were practicing Catholics... but they wanted me to wait for some years while studying at the University. Since I knew how the conflict would end, I went to Fr Pozzoli and told him everything. He examined my vocation. He told me to pray and to leave everything in God’s hands. He gave me the blessing of Mary Help of Christians. Every time I recite Sub tuum praesidium... I think of him. Naturally at home the idea came up: why not talk to Fr Pozzoli? And I, with the best face in the world, said “yes”. I can still remember the scene. It was 12 December 1955. Papa and Mama were celebrating their 20th wedding anniversary. The celebration was a Mass (only my parents and the five children) in the San José di Flores parish. Fr Pozzoli was to celebrate it. Once the Mass had ended, Papa invited him to breakfast at the “Pearl of Flores” pastry shop (Rivera Indarte and Rivadavia, half a block from the Basilica).... Papa thought that Fr Pozzoli would not accept because he asked him if he could (I think that otherwise we would have gone home, six blocks away), but Fr Pozzoli (who knew what the topic of discussion would be) accepted without hesitation. What freedom of spirit and readiness to help a vocation! Halfway through breakfast the subject was raised. Fr Pozzoli said that University was a good thing but that things should be undertaken when God wants them to be undertaken... and he began recounting various vocation stories (without taking sides), and at the end he told the story of his own vocation. He told us how a priest had suggested that he become a priest, how in just a few short years he had become a subdeacon, then deacon and priest... how he had been given what he had not expected.... Well, at this point “finally” my parents’ hearts had melted. Naturally Fr Pozzoli didn’t end by telling them to let me enter seminary nor did he demand a decision from them... He simply knew that he had to “soften” them... and the rest took care of itself. It was just like him: “una de cal y otra de arena ” the Spanish would say [“lime and sand”, which is equivalent to the English “the carrot and stick approach”]. One didn’t know his intention... but he did; and generally he didn’t want to reach the point where one would recognize that “he had won”. When he “got a whiff” that he was about to get what he wanted, he withdrew before the others realized it. Then the decision came on its own, freely from those with whom he was speaking. They didn’t feel forced... but he had prepared their hearts. He had sown, and well... but he left the enjoyment of the harvest to others. [Pope Francis, "The Story of a Vocation,", accessed 2 February 2014]

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