Tag Archives: priest

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.

The priest

Pope Benedict ordains priests2.jpg

Bishop William Lori ordained two men to the diaconate today; they’ll be ordained priests next year. Saturday, May 16, the Bishop  ordains six men to the priesthood. These are happy days for the diocese of Bridgeport. So, I was thinking about the priesthood and what it means. While there are vast amounts of literature on nature of the priesthood, I thought Saint John Vianney would be an appropriate sounding board for today.

priest is not a priest for himself; he does not give himself absolution; he
does not administer the Sacraments to himself. He is not for himself, he is for
you. After God, the priest is everything. Leave a parish twenty years without
priests; they will worship beasts. If the missionary Father and I were to go
away, you would say, “What can we do in this church? there is no Mass; Our Lord
is not longer there: we may as well pray at home.” When people wish to destroy
religion, they begin by attacking the priest, because where there is no longer
any priest there is no sacrifice, and where there is no longer any sacrifice
there is no religion.

John-Mary Vianney, The Little Catechism of the Cure of Ars

Spiritual Maternity for Priests

In early February, I mentioned the notion, the desire, perhaps even the ministry women can do for the spiritual wellbeing of priests. It is an idea that is growing in the Church and yet its importance is not being recognized by many bishops. However, Bishop Edward Slattery, bishop of Tulsa, inaugurated a work of spiritual maternity for priests in the Tulsa diocese on March 24th. The good part of this work is the on-going formation. Father Mark Kirby writes about it on his blog.

Pope announces Year of St John Mary Vianney 2009-2010

St John Mary Vianney.jpgOn the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the death of the Saint Curé of Ars, John Mary Vianney, His Holiness announced this morning that from June 19, 2009 to June 19, 2010, there will be a special Year of the Priesthood under the theme of “Fidelity of Christ, fidelity of priests.”


During this Jubilee Year Benedict XVI proclaimed Saint John Mary Vianney “Patron of all priests of the world.” He will publish a Directory for Confessors and Spiritual Directors together with a collection of writings of the Supreme Pontiff concerning the essential themes of the life and mission of the priesthood today.


The Congregation for the Clergy together with the diocesan ordinaries and superiors of religious institutes will collaborate in promoting and coordinating the various spiritual and pastoral initiatives that concern the importance of the life and mission of the spriest in the Church and in contemporary society, the necessity of competent permanent formation of priests and seminarians.

The Pope will opens the special Year on 19 June with Vespers in St. Peter’s Basilica where the relics of the saintly ‘Cure of Ars’ will be brought by Bishop Guy Bagnard of Belley-Ars, France. The pope will conclude the year on 19 June 2010, presiding at a “World Meeting of Priests” in St. Peter’s Square.


A video clip of the announcement from H2O News.

Timothy M. Dolan: priesthood could be spiritually demanding, emotionally fulfilling, intellectually rigorous — AND FUN!

‘Larger Than Life’ Figure Dolan Taught What Priesthood Means

by Father Raymond J. de Souza

National Catholic Register

The garrulous Timothy Michael Dolan, preacher and raconteur extraordinaire, chooses his
SHJ.jpgwords carefully. And when ordained a bishop in 2001 in St. Louis, his first words were: “Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on me! Immaculate Heart of Mary, help me!”


He then went on to express his joy in the priesthood, his love for the Church, his delight in his parishioners — and also brought the house down with his ever-ready wit. The newly appointed archbishop of New York is just that — a larger-than-life figure completely at home with the simple faith of ordinary Catholics.


Raised in a Catholic home in Ballwin, Mo., young Tim learned the faith from parents who never missed Mass — but also looked forward to cold beer and barbecues on Sunday afternoon. That formation came to the fore when Archbishop Dolan remarked that, among other things he looked forward to in New York, he noticed hot dog vendors close by the archbishop’s residence on Madison Avenue.


TMD3.jpgCritics of Archbishop Dolan consider the backslapping, guffawing, cigar-smoking, beer-drinking prelate an old Irish neighborhood pol, eager to lead the St. Patrick’s Day parade but not sophisticated in the life of the mind or the life of the spirit. A faithful son of St. Louis, he knows not only where every parish is, but how to get from the local rectory to the nearest Steak-n-Shake, a Midwestern diner chain. A nice fellow, his critics agreed, but not to be taken seriously.
Those of us who lived under his guidance at the Pontifical North American College (NAC) know better.


Father Dolan served as rector of the American seminary in Rome for seven years (1994-2001). He was my rector from 1998-2001.


We were the privileged ones who regularly heard him preach — and he is a superlative preacher — not only during Mass, but at the memorable rector’s conferences that were later collected and published to great acclaim under the title Priests for the Third Millennium.


The printed page cannot capture fully his enthusiasm — and is excised of many of the in-house comments that provoked laughter all round — no one enjoys his jokes more than he does. Yet, the conferences are evidence of a fine mind at work, with a facility for bringing the Church’s perennial wisdom to current challenges. A historian by training, Msgr. Dolan taught a course on American Church history at both the Gregorian and Angelicum universities; a demanding professor, he did not cut corners for his own seminarians.


Thumbnail image for TMD1.jpgAs a seminary rector, Msgr. Dolan lived the “both/and” intuition that is at the heart of the Catholic approach: both popular piety and liturgical prayer; both traditional music and contemporary styles of worship; both adherence to a rule and an encouragement of creative initiative; both theological orthodoxy and a cultivated life of the mind; both serious formation and fraternal good times; and, yes, both the pasta and the main course at pranzo.
It was from Msgr. Dolan that I learned that the priesthood could be spiritually demanding, emotionally fulfilling, intellectually rigorous — and fun!


Before arriving at the NAC, I knew that the priesthood was a life of noble service, but looked ahead to a life of duty rather than looking forward to an enjoyable life. It has been repeated so often that it has become a caricature, but the first time I ever saw the rector, rosary in one hand and cigar in the other, I knew that I had found a compelling model of the priesthood.


My fellow seminarian at the time, Father Roger Landry, editor of the Diocese of Fall River, Mass., newspaper, The Anchor, has commented that Archbishop Dolan is a needed corrective to the perception that the Catholic faith is a necessary burden that strips the joy out of life. “If there’s any priest in America capable of preaching the ‘good news’ of the Catholic faith with contagious enthusiasm and heart-piercing eloquence,” he wrote upon hearing the news of the New York appointment, “it’s Archbishop Timothy Dolan.”


The appointment itself showed Archbishop Dolan at his best.


TMD2.jpgNot so much the bonhomie — though only he could have slapped Cardinal Edward Egan on the back. It surely has been some time since the cardinalatial back had been so heartily thumped, but, then, Dolan has rarely encountered a back he considered unslappable. The real Dolanesque touch was to use the questions about the appointment as a teaching moment about the liberating potential of obedience.


“I wasn’t asked,” he said simply of the message from the apostolic nuncio. He was told of the Holy Father’s decision, and, therefore, the path was clear. Obedience can be liberating. It’s a Christian truth, but a disputed one, and something that many of those watching in New York and Milwaukee may not have considered before. It reminded me of the rector’s conference on obedience that he gave to us years before — an indication that this jolly teacher is capable of speaking hard truths.


My own spiritual director believes that it is precisely in obedience — not in celibacy, strangely enough — that the priest of today is most countercultural,” Dolan said. “This culture of denigrating obedience is particularly obvious in our beloved United States of America, which was founded on disobedience. We legitimately celebrate the courageous patriotism of the revolutionaries who risked all to gain independence from an oppressive king, yes, but we also admit that at times we do equate liberty with license, freedom with rights unbridled by duty; that we exalt dissent over docility, and view with suspicion authority, tradition and accepting things purely on faith. … Astute foreign observers of the American scene, from Tocqueville to Solzhenitsyn, and from Bedini to Mother Teresa, have keenly perceived this flaw in American society, namely, to resist obedience to God, to tradition, and to moral principles, for the sake of choice, convenience or personal preference.”


When Archbishop Dolan arrives in New York, America will discover an articulate, critical preacher of the Gospel, deeply learned in the history of the Church in the United States, and confident of her future despite all the manifest difficulties. But more than that, America will rediscover that it is a proud, happy thing to be a Catholic.


Father Raymond J. de Souza is a priest of the Archdiocese of Kingston (Canada) and was the Register’s Rome correspondent from 1999-2003.

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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