This morning our newest priest presided over the Mass that my husband and I attended. It was this priest's first Sunday Mass as an associate pastor at the Cathedral parish. In his rather short homily he said some wonderful things, but there was one thing that stuck out for me as I think about the Year of the Priest. He said his job is to get us to Heaven, even if he has to drag us there kicking and screaming, he just wants us there. His statement summed up for me just how important our priests are.
Our priests have jobs that never end. They are called in the middle of the night, anytime during the day, in the wee hours of the morning, and they respond. They look after the church building, the church community, administer the sacraments, in some cases daily, and offer up the Mass every day. And the most important sacrament of all is the Eucharist. Without the Eucharist we are not the Catholic Church. And without the priest we can not have the Eucharist. And the devil knows this. The attacks on our priests that we have seen over the last decade, in particular, are a testament to the fact that the devil does exist.
So during this Year of the Priest, please pray for our priests! Also, pray for vocations to the priesthood. Priests are desperately needed, there is a shortage everywhere. Again, the devil is hard at work.
As for me, I am going to try to remember our priests in my prayers and to pray for vocations to the priesthood. In my own vocation as a married person I also pray that I may be blessed with a son one day who would consider a priestly vocation. In addition to prayer, my Cursillo small group has agreed that we would read the book 101 Inspirational Stories of the Priesthood together. Later in the year we hope to read a biography of St. John Vianney as well (the patron saint of parish priests, who will be named the patron saint of all priests at the conclusion of the Year of the Priest). Finally, my church has started a vocations prayer in our parish. They have a crucifix and a paper with some suggested prayers. Each Sunday they ask for a volunteer to take it for the week and pray for vocations as a family that week. Then you bring it back the next Sunday and another volunteer is found. At some point over the course of the year, I imagine that I'll volunteer Chris and I for this.
Also, this coming Tuesday, the Bishop will be closing the Second Annual Bishop's Cathedral Lecture Series with a talk on the two service sacraments: Marriage and Holy Orders. If you're in Lexington and want to hear more about the Priesthood, this would be a good lecture to attend. Reception at 6:30, lecture 7-9, at the Cathedral in Hehman Hall.
Those are my plans for the year. Anyone else thought about anything special you can do during this Year of the Priest??
In closing, I found this quote that illustrates so clearly the importance of our priests in our Catholic Faith:
"In awe should all men tremble,
the whole earth quake,
and the heavens shout for joy,
when Christ, the Son of the Living God,
is present upon the Altar
in the consecrated hands of a Priest."
--St. Francis of Assisi
My reflection on this Sunday's Gospel will be coming shortly. Stay tuned!