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Confused about life? Listen to the Good Shepherd, Pope Francis advises

Pope Francis is flanked by two newly ordained priests after his Regina Caeli address (Getty)

The Pope offers advice and encouragement on the World Day of Prayer for Vocations

On Sunday, Pope Francis advised listening to and speaking with Christ the Good Shepherd in prayer, so that one can be guided on the right paths of life.

“Listening to and recognizing [Jesus’] voice implies intimacy with him, which is consolidated in prayer, in the meeting heart to heart with the divine Master and Shepherd of our souls,” he said May 12.

“This intimacy with Jesus, this being open, talking with Jesus, strengthens in us the desire to follow him,” the pope continued, “to come out of the labyrinth of wrong paths, to abandon selfish behaviors, to set out on the new paths of fraternity and the gift of ourselves, in imitation of Him.”

Speaking before the Regina Coeli on “Good Shepherd Sunday,” Pope Francis reminded people that Jesus is the only Shepherd who speaks to us, knows us, gives us eternal life and keeps us.

“We are his flock and we must only strive to listen to his voice, while with love he scrutinizes the sincerity of our hearts,” he said.

“And from this continuous intimacy with our Shepherd comes the joy of following him, allowing us to lead to the fullness of eternal life.”

Jesus the Good Shepherd welcomes and loves, not only one’s strengths, but one’s faults, he said.

“The Good Shepherd — Jesus — is attentive to each of us, seeks us and loves us, addressing his word to us, knowing our heart, our desires and our hopes, as well as our failures and disappointments.”

He asked for the Blessed Virgin Mary’s intercession, especially for priests and consecrated, who, he said, are called “to welcome Christ’s invitation to be his most direct collaborators in the proclamation of the Gospel.”

After the Regina Coeli, Francis noted the celebration, in many countries, of Mother’s Day. He sent his warm greetings to all mothers and thanked them for “their precious work in raising their children and protecting the value of the family.”

The pope also recalled all the mothers who “look at us from heaven and continue to watch over us with prayer.”

Recalling the May 13 feast day of Our Lady of Fatima, “our heavenly mother,” he said “we entrust ourselves to her to continue our journey with joy and generosity.”

He also prayed for vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

Earlier in the day, Pope Francis ordained 19 new priests in St. Peter’s Basilica. The men had been studying for the priesthood in Rome and are mostly Italian, with others coming from Croatia, Haiti, Japan, and Peru.

Eight are from the Priestly Society of the Sons of the Cross, one from the Family of Disciples. Eight were ordained for the Neocatechumenal Way.

Pope Francis gave the homily prescribed in the Ritual for the Ordination of Priests, to which he added a few of his own thoughts.

He recommended the new priests regularly read and meditate on the Scriptures, and advised they always prepare to give a homily with time in prayer and with “the Bible in hand.”

“Let your teaching be therefore nourishment to the People of God: when it comes from the heart and is born of prayer, it will be so fruitful,” he said.

He also told the new priests to be careful in their celebration of the Mass, asking them not to “mess it up with petty interests.”

“Aware of having been chosen among men and constituted in their favor to await the things of God, exercise in joy and charity, with sincerity, the priestly work of Christ, solely intent on pleasing God and not yourselves,” the pope said. “Priestly joy is found only on this path, seeking to please God who has elected us.”

The priest, he added, should be “close to God in prayer, close to the bishop who is your father, close to the presbytery, to other priests, as brothers… and close to the People of God.”