Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Priest - an Outward Sign of Holiness

Jesus - Holy Eucharist

The following was shared by Sue of Half the Kingdom. I am sharing the email in its entirety.

It is amazing how wearing the cassock in the street reminds everyone who sees the priest of the presence of God. In all the different places where I have personally worn the cassock, it is always interesting to see how people notice the cassock and somehow change their conversation to include God, or religion, or at least check their language.

This is a reflection of the level of expectation that we have for our priests. We expect them to be holy. We expect them to embody holiness.

The priest is who we go to when we want our sins forgiven. It is he who brings us Our Lord at the altar rail. He is the one who teaches us with sermons and instructs us in the faith. When our marriage is falling apart, we turn to him for help. When our children fall away we go to him for encouragement, support and prayer. We ask him what is good for our children's education, how to find our vocation, and how to increase in sanctity according to our state in life.

We would not turn to the priest in these things if we didn't look up to him as a model of holiness. And when he is not that model and when he falls short of our expectations, we are disappointed. We feel almost robbed and betrayed.

The priest's job is not an easy one. He is the proxy of Our Lord, who stands in the place of Christ as he offers the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. When he forgives our sins, it is not he, but Our Lord who forgives them, and when his hand is raised in absolution it is the hand of Christ who absolves.

When he blesses, he is only blessing in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. When he preaches, it is through the inspiration of the Holy Ghost.

This close union between the priest and his Divine Master again includes the obvious requirement that the priest be holy. Just as a lawyer would be a useless lawyer if he did not know the law, or a parent, not worthy of the title, if they did not care for their child..

And while the ideal we expect is that our priests be holy, in reality we find that all too often we are disappointed. Holy priests are as few and far in-between today as they were in the day of St. John Vianney.

The holiness of our pastors directly reflect on the holiness of their flock. A holy priest will have a devout parish. A devout priest will have a mediocre parish. A mediocre priest will have a sinful parish, and a sinful priest will have a desolate parish. This coming year our Holy Father has dedicated to the priesthood, and there are several indulgences available for those who pray for priests throughout the year. [1]

This is a year of opportunity, and it is also a year of reminder of the obligation that we have to pray for our priests. The priest is always prompt to assure us of his prayers for us. How many hours does he spend behind the locked doors of the church, interceding for us before Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament! In all our needs we turn to him and he is always ready to spend time in prayer for us and to intercede for our needs before his Divine Master.

A few years ago the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter formed an auxilliary branch united to the Fraternity called the Confraternity of St. Peter. Members may join from any walk in life, from religious and priests to laity in any trade or vocation. And the members dedicate a little of their time each day to pray for the success of the work of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, for the sanctification of priests, and for many holy vocations to the priesthood. Now with over 2000 members worldwide the Confraternity has become a powerhouse of prayer united to pray for the support of the Fraternity.

The prayers requested of the members of the Confraternity are minimal, so that as many members as possible may be able to join. Besides these prayers, opportunities are given for members to advance on the path of virtue and holiness by enriching themselves in the spirituality of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, a spirituality centered on the Mass and sanctifying ourselves by uniting our daily lives to the spiritual riches found in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

To this end recollections are given and some apostolates of the FSSP offer evenings of recollection once a month. Also each year a pilgrimage is planned, and in the future retreats are envisioned.

Last year the Confraternity went to Rome to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Priestly Fraternity of St Peter, while at the same time the pilgrimage encompassed Benedictine shrines in honor of Pope Benedict, who has so gracioulsy extended the Latin Mass throughout the world by the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum.

This year a pilgrimage within the United States has been envisioned, and we will be taking the path of the Mission Churches in California. As we go from church to church and admire the seeds of faith that pioneer missionaries spread in our country, it will not only be a pilgrimage but also a retreat, and conferences will be given on the importance of sacrifice in order to live and increase in our faith. Differing from the conventional closed-wall retreat we are used to, this will be more of a "mission of Missions" where we will combine the spiritual benefits of a pilgrimage with the spiritual enrichment of a retreat. We will see what trials and difficulties these missionaries suffered to bring the Faith to us, as we also meditate on the fact that sacrifices are necessary to grow that seed of faith in our own souls.

Finally it should be mentioned here that just as any event of the Confraternity, this is not for members only, but everyone is invited to join the members of the Confraternity on this pilgrimage. It will certainly be an opportunity to increase our spiritual lives, both for members of the CSP as also for everyone else who would like to join us.

With the year of the priesthood that we are now entering, we should examine ourselves and ask ourselves if indeed we pray for our pastors as we should. Or do we forget to pray for them? Or worse - do we overlook the fact that they need prayers, and oftentimes are more busy praying for our needs than for their own? We need to pray for our priests. We need to spend a little of our time each day praying for these men who spend their every moment of every day for the good of our souls.

May God grant us many holy priests. If every priest in this world was as holy as the Cure of Ars, we would no longer recognize the world we live in. It would be a different place.

For more information about the Confraternity of St. Peter or if you are interested in the Pilgrimage of the California Missions our website is http://www.confraternityofstpeter.org/
The Confraternity of St. Peter or by calling 916-223-3112.
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2 comments:

Anne said...

This is great! Thank you for posting it!

Esther said...

Oh I'm so glad you liked it Anne!