Monday, August 3, 2009

"You are a priest forever..."

I have been blessed these past years with a pastor very scrupulous in his adherence to the books of the liturgy, and orthodox in his beliefs. Soon he will be retiring. With the state of the American Church being what it is, whether the bishop will be able to find us a new pastor or whether we will be clustered or have to undergo a period under a pastoral coordinator is unknown.
Meanwhile we are fortunate to have a visiting priest to aid father in his last few months. This priest, not strictly a visiting priest, but rather one who is on sabbatical from his own parish for a year also seems to be a very prayerful priest, who seems very careful in his celebration of the Mass.
His homily touch very much on his own experience as a priest as he talked about the meaning of the holy Father's declaration of the Year of the Priest. His example reminded me very much of the experiences I had heard related by those priests who were in New York in 2001. How strangers, seeing the Roman Collar, knew that there was Christ in their midst, and ran to him for comfort during a period which exceed the capacity of any earthly comfort. I was reminded of the letter of His Holiness, which was published in June to announce the Year of the Priest.
The Curé 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".[3] 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 realized 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...".[4] 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 realize what he is".
Yet how many of us give little thought to the man in the collar, until disaster strikes! So in this Year of the Priest don't forget to offer prayers for your priest. But also don't for get to thank him and help see to his worldly needs too. Dinner, suitable thank you gifts and appropriate donations are always welcome Remember here is a man who puts on Christ daily, not for his own glory but for the salvation of souls. Be grateful.

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