Tag Archives: priest

NO such thing as second class grace

I have to admit that I am not a frequent reader of the spiritual theology of Saint Josemaría Escriva but I am more and more interested in what he said because I think there is something that corresponds to my heart. Time will tell how he will affect my my life. 


Here the saint briefly speaks to the fact that we are called by the Gospel to conform to Christ –a message I tried to get across to the parish youth group. Of course, speaking of following AND conforming the self to the Will of God is a hard concept to get across to anyone let alone young people. As Christians we follow; we also closely adhere to the cross while looking to the resurrection. Be careful, you don’t get the resurrection without the cross coming first.

Back to the saint’s thought: Saint Josemaria said, for example, about the matter of sanctity and priesthood:


There is no second class
sanctity: there is either a continuous struggle to be in the grace of God and
conformed to Christ our model or we desert these divine battles. Our Lord
invites everyone to sanctify himself in his own state. In Opus Dei this passion
for sanctity–in spite of our individual errors and miseries–is not changed by
the fact that one is a priest or a layperson.
 

Saint Josemaría, Homily, Priest for Eternity, 13 April 1973

Priest: be ministerially faithful & live a life of prayer

Pope Benedict ordains priests.jpgBenedict XVI highlighted the most important points in
the life of a priest: “Your faithfulness in the exercise of the ministry
and the life of prayer, your search for holiness, your total self-giving to God
at the service of your brothers and sisters, as you expend your lives and
energy in order to promote justice, fraternity, solidarity and sharing.” (Discourse
to Priests in the Sanctuary of Aparecida, Brasil, 12 May 2007)

Daily Rule of Prayer: Mass, adoration, lectio divina…

For the most part, the time for priestly and diaconal ordinations have come and gone. Where I am for the summer, a newly ordained priest is due to arrive in a few days. Having heard plenty of ordination homilies over the years none are as insightful as Benedict XVI’s especially when he proposes a plan to be spiritually fit. Of course, all what is said is not restricted to priests but applicable to the laity as well. All of us reading this post are familiar with all the points made about developing a prayer life and seeing them together constitutes a serious plan. Father Mark draws our attention to one item that is near-and-dear to many of us: lectio divina. I am re-posting a portion of my friend Father Mark’s recent May blog entry because I think it’s helpful.

What is Father Everypriest’s daily Rule of Prayer according to Pope Benedict XVI? Let’s consider the elements of the Rule in the order in which the Holy Father presents them.

1) Daily Holy Mass. Daily. Not 6 days week, not 5, or 4 days a week, but daily. The liturgical cycle in its hourly, daily, weekly, and yearly rhythms is given us precisely to facilitate our “abiding” in Christ hour by hour, day by day, week by week, and year after year. Integral to the liturgical cycle is daily Holy Mass. The Eucharistic Sacrifice sends the divine lifeblood coursing through one’s spiritual organism. Without daily Mass, the priest will succumb to spiritual anemia.

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2) The Liturgy of the Hours. The Hours give rhythm and grace to daily life. They are a school of discipline (discipleship), a supernatural system of irrigation channeling grace into every moment of the day, a privileged way of offering thanks in communion with all who, “in heaven, on earth, and under the earth,” confess the Name of Jesus and bend the knee before Him. A priest who loves the Divine Office will enjoy an interior life that is sane, and sound, and wholly ecclesial. Fidelity to the Divine Office refines the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, sharpens one’s discernment, and imparts to everything the priest does a certain Eucharistic and doxological quality.

3) Eucharistic Adoration. Are you surprised? Eucharistic adoration has known a kind of springtime since The Year of the Eucharist (2004-2005) that was also the year of the death of Pope John Paul II and of the election of Pope Benedict XVI. Two Americans known for loving their brother priests and ministering to them tirelessly –Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen and Father Gerald Fitzgerald of the Holy Spirit– insisted on a daily hour before the Blessed Sacrament as a sine qua non of priestly spirituality. The priest who adores the Blessed Sacrament exposes his weaknesses and wounds to the healing radiance of the Eucharistic Face of Jesus. Moreover, he abides before the Eucharistic Face of Jesus as the representative of his people: of the sick, the poor, the bereaved, and of those locked in spiritual combat. The priest who looks to the Eucharistic Face of Jesus, and draws near to His Open Heart in the Sacrament of the Altar, will, just as the psalm says, be radiant, and he will not be put to shame.

4) Lectio Divina. Again — a monastic thing? No, a Catholic thing. The quality of a priest’s preaching is directly proportionate to his commitment to lectio divina. Neglect of lectio divina leads to mediocre preaching. Opening the Scriptures is like opening the tabernacle: therein the priest finds the “hidden manna” his soul craves. The four steps of lectio divina can be accommodated to any length of time: 1) lectio, i.e. the Word heard; 2) meditatio, i.e. the Word repeated; 3) oratio, i.e. the Word prayed;

4) Contemplatio; i.e. the indwelling Word. Lectio divina cannot be occasional;
it is not a random pursuit. Learn to say, “I am not available.” Get over feeling guilty about taking time for God!

5) Holy Rosary. Yes, the daily Rosary. It’s a spiritual lifeline that has saved many a priest from spiritual shipwreck. The brilliant and holy exegete and founder of the École biblique in Jerusalem, Father Marie-Joseph Lagrange, was observed praying fifteen mysteries of the Rosary each day, and asked, “Why, Father, do you, a great exegete, need to pray the Rosary?” “Because, ” he answered, “it decapitates
pride.” I would add that not only does the Rosary decapitate pride; it decapitates each of the seven capital sins: pride, greed, lust, anger, gluttony, envy, and sloth. With the passing of the years I have come to appreciate the profound wisdom of an old Dominican priest to whom I used to make my confession years ago. Invariably, after confessing my miseries, Father would ask, “Do you say the Rosary, son?” And invariably I would reply, “Yes, Father.” And then he would say, “Aye, then you’ll be alright.” A priest who prays the Rosary daily will be alright and, almost imperceptibly, will grow in purity and humility.

Ange de la SteFace.jpg

6) Meditation. Meditation can mean many things, even within our Catholic tradition. It is integral to the prayerful celebration of Holy Mass and the Hours. “it nourishes Eucharistic adoration. It is the second “moment” of lectio divina. It is the soul of the Rosary. In my own experience, meditation is related to “remembering the things the Lord has done.” Saint Gertrude the Great, a model of the mystical life grounded in the liturgy, used to say, “A grace remembered is a grace renewed.” Understood in this sense, meditation, by recalling the mercies of the Lord in the past, infuses the present with hope, and allows the priest to go forward with a holy boldness.

Is it necessary to set a period of time apart for meditation as such? That depends on whom you ask. The Carmelite, Jesuit and Sulpician traditions would hold fast to some form of meditation as a daily exercise. The monastic tradition has, on the whole, taken a more supple approach to meditation. It is a daily practice, but one diffused in every form of prayer, including the liturgy itself. One learns to pace one’s prayer, to pause, to breathe, to linger over a phrase, a word, or an image. Whether one espouses the Ignatian way or the monastic approach, meditation is an integral to every priest’s daily Rule of Prayer.

International Priests’ Retreat: Ars 2009

There will be a retreat offered for priests September 27th to October 3rd in Ars, France. 

JMV.jpg



“You who are priests are invited to participate in this moment of spiritual strengthening. It will enable all of us to be renewed in our ministry and to taste the joy of a fraternal encounter among priests from the world over. This will be the occasion to pray fervently for priestly vocations.” 

Mgr Bagnard

The program looks very promising. For more information found here.

Pope asks priests to focus on Christ in prayer in order to serve



This paragraph from the Pope’s homily for the May 3rd
priesthood ordinations is a good example of the Pope’s holy agenda for priests,
indeed, for all who are called to serve the Lord and His Church. As the Pope
says, this is dear to his heart…

priest adoring.jpg…prayer
and its ties with service. We have seen that to be ordained priests means to
enter in a sacramental and existential way into Christ’s prayer for “his
own”. From this we priests derive a particular vocation to pray in a
strongly Christocentric sense: we are called, that is, to “remain”
in Christ
as the evangelist John likes to repeat (cf. Jn 1: 35-39; 15:
4-10) and this abiding in Christ is achieved especially through prayer
. Our
ministry is totally tied to this “abiding” which is equivalent to
prayer, and draws from this its efficacy
. In this perspective, we must
think of the different forms of prayer of a priest, first of all daily Holy
Mass. The Eucharistic Celebration is the greatest and highest act of prayer,
and constitutes the centre and the source from which even the other forms
receive “nourishment”
: the Liturgy of the Hours,
Eucharistic adoration, Lectio Divina, the Holy Rosary, meditation. All these
expressions of prayer, which have their centre in the Eucharist, fulfill the
words of Jesus in the priest’s day and in all his life: “I am the good
shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, as the Father knows me and I know
the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep” (Jn 10: 14-15). In fact,
this “knowing” and “being known” in Christ and, through
him, in the Most Holy Trinity, is none other than the most true and deep
reality of prayer
. The priest who prays a lot, and who prays well,
is progressively drawn out of himself and evermore united to Jesus the Good
Shepherd and the Servant of the Brethren. In conforming to him, even the priest
“gives his life” for the sheep entrusted to him
. No one
takes it from him: he offers it himself, in unity with Christ the Lord, who has
the power to give his life and the power to take it back not only for himself,
but also for his friends, bound to him in the Sacrament of Orders. Thus the
life of Christ, Lamb and Shepherd, is communicated to the whole flock, through
the consecrated ministers.

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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