Thursday, June 18, 2009

Faithful to Christ, Faithful to the Priesthood

The Year for Priests begins tomorrow, June 19th, at Solemn Vespers in Saint Peter's Basilica. Thus begins a special year of grace and intercession for the "importance of the priest's role and mission in the Church and in contemporary society ever more clearly perceived". (Pope Benedict audience 16 March, 2009) It is more than a year to honor, a public relations maneuver or a "shot in the arm" for priests who have been fatigued by scandal and bad press. To think this is to miss the point...and a tremendous opportunity for grace. This year is "precisely to encourage priests in [their] striving for spiritual perfection on which, above all, the effectiveness of their ministry depends". (ibid)

Archbishop Mauro Piacenza, secretary of the Congregation for the Clergy, writes, “Each day we are called to conversion, but we are called to it in a very particular way during this year, in union with all those who have received the gift of priestly ordination. Conversion to what? It is conversion to be ever more authentically that which we already are, conversion to our ecclesial identity of which our ministry is a necessary consequence, so that a renewed and joyous awareness of our “being” will determine our “acting”, or rather will create the space allowing Christ the Good Shepherd to live in us and to act through us”.

The Holy Father has asked 1.2 billion Catholics throughout the world to dedicate themselves to a year of prayer for the sanctification of priests, and has called the over 400,000 priests of the world to re-dedicate themselves to the goal of personal sanctity and mission. Think about that! How important a cause must be for the Pope to mobilize behind it the entire Church Militant? Priests, rediscover the nature of your priestly identity, recommit yourselves to Christ in prayer, lectio divina, continuing education, theological study, preaching the Gospel and the salvation of souls. All faithful unite their prayers with yours in a common goal of renewal and holiness.

St. John Mary Vianney pray for us!

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