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The Gift and Joy of the Priesthood: Weekly Message for 4-17-2018
Dear Digital Pilgrims in Christ,
Growing up in the country in South Australia, our local parish priest (who also happened to be my great uncle!) was known for traveling kilometers to visit neighboring towns to celebrate Mass and hear confessions. His dedication and service as a priest for over 60 years certainly marked and inspired me to follow a life consecrated to the Lord and His Church.
This coming Sunday, the 4th Sunday of Easter, (also known as Good Shepherd Sunday) we have the opportunity to thank God for the gift of the priesthood and, in a particular way, those priests who touch us directly with the sacramental presence of Christ.
One of Pope Francis’ favorite images of the priest is of one who is anointed so as to anoint others with the oil of gladness. The anointing, which a priest receives at his ordination, is not meant just for himself: it is to flow through him to those he serves.
This upcoming Good Shepherd Sunday we pray for all priests and all those whom God is calling to the priesthood. To respond to the voice of the Good Shepherd is to come close to the heart of God. There is nothing more fulfilling in life than that, a life close to the heart of God.
Anyone who has experienced the loving and generous care of a true mother, father, priest, deacon or consecrated person will know what a true shepherd really is. True shepherds give their lives to those who have been entrusted to them. They do not live for themselves. Marriage and consecrated life are essentially vocations to shepherd others.
True shepherding is a life of total self-giving. The true shepherd needs time for renewal in order to shepherd the flock. The true shepherd needs to spend time daily with Jesus, the chief shepherd. He will give us the strength, the inspiration and the sustenance to shepherd the flock. Periodic moments of solitude and silence are essential for the continued ability to give unconditionally.
If we are going to be true disciples of the Good Shepherd, we must forget ourselves completely and be totally dedicated. Jesus calls us to love one another unconditionally. The humble witness and generous service of the priest gives us an example so we may believe and we too may imitate Christ in laying down our lives for others.
May this be our prayer for each other and, on this Good Shepherd Sunday, in a particular way for those men whom God is calling to the joy of the priesthood.
PRAYER FOR PRIESTS
O Jesus, I pray for Your faithful and fervent priests;
for Your unfaithful and tepid priests;
for Your priests laboring at home or abroad in distant mission fields;
for Your tempted priests;
for Your lonely and desolate priests;
for Your young priests;
for Your dying priests;
for the souls of Your priests in purgatory.
But above all I recommend to You the priests dearest to me;
the priest who baptized me;
the priests who absolved me from my sins;
the priests at whose Masses I assisted and who gave me Your Body and Blood in Holy communion;
the priests who taught and instructed me;
all the priests to whom I am indebted in any other way.
O Jesus, keep them all close to Your heart, and bless them abundantly in time and in eternity.
Keep counting on my prayers.
God bless you!
Lucy Honner, CRC
Director, RCSpirituality Center