"The Christianity of history is not Protestantism. If ever there were a safe truth it is this, and Protestantism has ever felt it so; to be deep in history is to cease to be a Protestant." (-John Henry Newman, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine).

"Where the bishop is, there let the people gather; just as where ever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church". -St. Ignatius of Antioch (ca 110 AD)a martyr later thrown to the lions, wrote to a church in Asia Minor. Antioch was also where the term "Christian" was first used.

“But if I should be delayed, you should know how to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth.” 1 Timothy 3:15

"This is the sole Church of Christ, which in the Creed we profess to be one, holy, catholic and apostolic." -CCC 811

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Let's Celebrate the Year of Priests

I wonder how many of us Catholics do really pray for our parish priests strengthening them in their spiritual battle to holiness. I for one, I can’t remember the last time I have prayed for our who is tireless in attending to our spiritual needs. Not needing praise for their hard labor, our Indian and Filipino Franciscan missionaries never failed us in the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

But priests are human beings like us. They feel the same emotions as we feel. They have to wake up every morning and make the hardest decision again and again to continuously love and serve the Lord in his Church. They too are prone to severe affliction of sadness. At the end of the day after they said their vespers and night prayers, they have to face the Lord in the privacy of their rooms beating their chests with the hardest question “what have I done today to deserve God’s favor?”

Let’s not forget that our priests have feelings the way we feel because they too are like us in all aspect. If we are frustrated when someone failed us, they too feel the same. When we all run to friends in times of difficulties, they too have that urge to unload their hurts to friends. When we feel hurt by rejection, they too feel the same. They are not invinsible like superman. They are human beings, prone to fall, easily tempted, commit sin but they chose not to give in because they have chosen a vocation that’s we all cannot endure--the vow of celibacy.

Our priests are fragile people. They’re sensitive men. They love the agape way of loving. They are our spiritual fathers. We ought to pray for them. Anti-Catholics and the media are at times unfriendly to priestly misgivings but we shouldn’t be surprised by it. Instead, we should condemn their wrong doings but lovingly forgive the penitent sinner. After all, those who have no sin should cast the very first stone.”

I remember in my younger years I have a shirt that has a very beautiful caption imprinted on it. It says, “A Priest is Always Wrong Because…" (Click madharasan.com for the text).

This year is dedicated to our priests. Let’s all remember our priests, no matter how unfriendly they are, or how far they can’t be reached. Let us all recognize their importance. Let not their sinfulness destroy our faith in the Lord. We all need our priests and so let’s join the whole Catholic Church for this occasion where we can show our love for our priests. Here is partial letter of the Holy Father letter to our priests:

Thanks to Catholic Online:


Dear Brother Priests,

On the forthcoming Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Friday 19 June 2009 - a day traditionally devoted to prayer for the sanctification of the clergy - I have decided to inaugurate a "Year for Priests" in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the "dies natalis" of John Mary Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests worldwide. This Year, meant to deepen the commitment of all priests to interior renewal for the sake of a more forceful and incisive witness to the Gospel in today's world, will conclude on the same Solemnity in 2010. "The priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus", the saintly Cure of Ars would often say. This touching expression makes us reflect, first of all, with heartfelt gratitude on the immense gift which priests represent, not only for the Church, but also for humanity itself. I think of all those priests who quietly present Christ's words and actions each day to the faithful and to the whole world, striving to be one with the Lord in their thoughts and their will, their sentiments and their style of life. How can I not pay tribute to their apostolic labours, their tireless and hidden service,
their universal charity? And how can I not praise the courageous fidelity of so many priests who, even amid difficulties and incomprehension, remain faithful to their vocation as "friends of Christ", whom He has called by name, chosen and sent?

I still treasure the memory of the first parish priest at whose side I exercised my ministry as a young priest: he left me an example of unreserved devotion to his pastoral duties, even to meeting death in the act of bringing viaticum to a gravely ill person. I also recall the countless confreres whom I have met and continue to meet, not least in my pastoral visits to different countries: men generously dedicated to the daily exercise of their priestly ministry. Yet the expression of St. John Mary also makes us think of Christ's pierced Heart and the crown of thorns which surrounds it. I am also led to think, therefore, of the countless situations of suffering endured by many priests, either because they themselves share in the manifold human experience of pain or because they encounter misunderstanding from the very persons to whom they minister. How can we not also think of all those priests who are offended in their dignity, obstructed in their mission and persecuted, even at times to offering the supreme testimony of their own blood?

There are also, sad to say, situations which can never be sufficiently deplored where the Church herself suffers as a consequence of infidelity on the part of some of her ministers. Then it is the world which finds grounds for scandal and rejection.
What is most helpful to the Church in such cases is not only a frank and complete acknowledgement of the weaknesses of her ministers, but also a joyful and renewed realisation of the greatness of God's gift, embodied in the splendid example of generous pastors, religious afire with love for God and for souls,
and insightful, patient spiritual guides. Here the teaching and example of St. John Mary Vianney can serve as a significant point of reference for us all. The Cure of Ars was quite humble, yet as a priest he was conscious of being an immense gift to his people: "A good shepherd, a pastor after God's heart, is the greatest treasure which the good Lord can grant to a parish, and one of the most precious gifts of divine mercy". He spoke of the priesthood as if incapable of fathoming the grandeur of the gift and task entrusted to a human creature: "O, how great is the priest! ... If he realised what he is, he would die. ... God obeys him: he utters a few words and the Lord descends from heaven at his voice, to be contained within a small host".

Explaining to his parishioners the importance of the Sacraments, he would say: "Without the Sacrament of Holy Orders, we would not have the Lord. Who put Him there in that tabernacle? The priest. Who welcomed your soul at the beginning of your life? The priest. Who feeds your soul and gives it strength for its journey? The priest. Who will prepare it to appear before God, bathing it one last time in the blood of Jesus Christ? The priest, always the priest. And if this soul should happen to die [as a result of sin], who will raise it up, who will restore its calm and peace?
Again, the priest. ... After God, the priest is everything! ... Only in heaven will he fully realise what he is". These words, welling up from the priestly heart of the holy pastor, might sound excessive. Yet they reveal the high esteem in which he held the Sacrament of the Priesthood. He seemed overwhelmed by a boundless sense of responsibility: "Were we to fully realise what a priest is on earth, we ...
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