Category Archives: Spiritual Life

Father Paul Archambault, 42, RIP, remembered

On my mind and
in my heart I have been thinking a priest who died on 3 July at his own hand.
Father Paul Archambault, 42, priest of the Diocese of Springfield, MA, had his demons with which to struggle in this
life; his struggle is not unlike the rest of humanity, that is, a struggle to
live with great humanity tensions between grace and sin. I didn’t know Father
Paul; I am nonetheless moved by his hasty act and struck by his death at this
young age, one that I share with him. Father Paul’s desperate act of suicide is
bewildering and saddening. My reflections lead me to say that sometimes we are
consumed by sin (or some other weakness) and forget that there is Friendship
beyond all others really cares for us. Nevertheless, Christ is present to
sustain us when we can’t remember that He’s offered us the Hundredfold.

Father
John Lessard, former pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Holyoke and
friend of Father Paul, delivered the words noted below at the funeral at Saint
Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Northampton on July 12.

What is our response to
this tragic end of a priest? First, I would suggest that we beg the Holy Spirit
to preserve us from nihilistic temptations. Suicide is a mis-understood act
that many are tempted, even priests. In a week’s time I know of one other
priest who attempted suicide and lived. And over the years, I have known four
priests to have committed suicide. Second, cast an eye of mercy on those who
struggle with the temptation to permanently end their pain and suffering. What
are the distinguishing characteristics of Christ’s presence in these events?
Third, pray for priests. Fourth, be a good friend to others, particularly
priests.

Let us help each other see the Face of Christ. Let us also pray for
each other, and at this time all those who mourn Father Paul Archambault. Also, I would also caution against defining a person exclusively by some of his or her actions. We are more than one or two actions.

Here
are a few paragraphs. For the rest of Father Lessard’s address, you may
read it
here
.

Paul Archambault.jpg

So,  it is with the Sacrament of Holy Orders of the Priesthood. Grace. Not magic.
And a man who enters into this unique and tremendous Sacrament, much like
married people, does not become immune to anything but rather can count on his
troubles to increase as the evil enemy fights with all his might to take down a
priest. The Sacrament of Holy Orders does not prevent sickness or illness of
any kind, does not cure what was already there. And we must understand that
true sickness, whether it be of body or of mind is sickness; it is not
chosen
.  A couple of years ago, a dear friend was diagnosed with breast
cancer. Would it possibly ever cross one’s mind to blame her for her cancer? Of
course not. If we are to love one another, care for and about one another as
Christ not only asked us to do but commanded us to do and tells us our
salvation rests largely upon fulfilling that command, we must put aside any and
all silliness and ignorance that prevent us from seeing illness for what it is,
no matter what that illness is
. Would we blame a man with Parkinson’s disease
for his chronic illness? Of course not.  Do you blame the child who
develops leukemia? The thought is absurd and ludicrous, isn’t it?  And as
with cancer or any other malady of the body, so with illness of the mind
sometimes treatments cure, sometimes they are very successful for a number of
years, sometimes they are partly and briefly successful, sometimes they fail
outright.

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Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests

Sanctification of priests.jpg

The feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is an apt day to pray for Catholic priests. Perhaps making time to pray the Act of Reparation, Most Sweet Jesus.
There is a plenary indulgence given for the prayer publicly recited. The usual conditions apply.

Love is the means to overcome darkness of heart

VdeP.jpg

Affability joined to love is an efficacious means of insinuating ourselves into the minds of men and of inducing them to embrace things that are most repugnant to human nature.

Saint Vincent de Paul

Divine Mercy: known in peaceful embrace of sacramental forgiveness

Continuing for just a moment on the reality of Divine Mercy –given yesterday’s feast on the Second Sunday of Easter– there are few thoughts of Blessed John Paul II’s that I think are worth reflecting on when, in the canonization homily he delivered for Padre Pio’s canonization (16 June 2002), he stated:

“I am the Lord who acts with mercy” (Jeremiah 9,23)


Padre Pio hearing confessions.jpg

Padre
Pio was a generous dispenser of divine mercy, making himself available to all
by welcoming them, by spiritual direction and, especially, by the
administration of the sacrament of Penance
. I also had the privilege, during my
young years, of benefiting from his availability for penitents. The ministry of
the confessional
, which is one of the distinctive traits of his apostolate,
attracted great crowds of the faithful to the monastery of San Giovanni Rotondo.
Even when that unusual confessor treated pilgrims with apparent severity, the
latter, becoming conscious of the gravity of sins and sincerely repentant,
almost always came back for the peaceful embrace of sacramental forgiveness
.
May his example encourage priests to carry out with joy and zeal this ministry
which is so important today, as I wished to confirm this year in the Letter to
Priests on the occasion of Holy Thursday.

Perhaps priests –indeed, all of the faithful– ought to review the Holy Father’s Holy Thursday 2002 letter to priests. I once made a statement: Don’t trust a priest who doesn’t regularly sit in the confession box. I think it is reasonable advice. 

Divine Mercy: God’s love, God’s presence, God’s compassion

When John Paul beatified Mother Teresa of Calcutta in 2003, he said of her, in part:

Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta.jpg“As you did to one of the least of these my brethren,
you did it to me” (Mt 25: 40). This Gospel passage, so crucial in
understanding Mother Teresa’s service to the poor, was the basis of her
faith-filled conviction that in touching the broken bodies of the poor she was
touching the body of Christ. It was to Jesus himself, hidden under the
distressing disguise of the poorest of the poor, that her service was directed.
Mother Teresa highlights the deepest meaning of service – an act of love done
to the hungry, thirsty, strangers, naked, sick, prisoners (cf. Mt 25: 34-36)
is done to Jesus himself
.


Recognizing him, she ministered to him with
wholehearted devotion, expressing the delicacy of her spousal love. Thus, in
total gift of herself to God and neighbor, Mother Teresa found her greatest
fulfillment and lived the noblest qualities of her femininity. She wanted to be
a sign of “God’s love, God’s presence and God’s compassion,” and so remind all
of the value and dignity of each of God’s children, “created to love and be
loved.” Thus was Mother Teresa “bringing souls to God and God to souls” and
satiating Christ’s thirst, especially for those most in need, those whose
vision of God had been dimmed by suffering and pain.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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