Saturday, May 30, 2009
Friday, May 29, 2009
I think it behooves us to reflect a bit more on that mystery, considering events of the past week in Miami.
As we reflect on the Mystery of Love, we must first ask what exactly 'Love' is. Pope Benedict gives us a great insight into 'Love' in his first encyclical: Deus Caritas Est, which I have just gone through again, this time with some of the men entering the seminary this fall.
In this seminal work of re-evangelizing the faithful, the Holy Father breaks the mystery and nature of Love into two general categories, using the Greek terms Eros and Agape.
He defines Eros as the lower form of love, the love the seeks to possess. It is the love that leads to a desire to sieze, grasp, control. It is a love that sees in the other (person/thing/idea) a good, and which is drawn to that good, but in a self serving kind of way, and to share is to somehow lose popssession of that object/person/idea.
You can see this in the play of young children: MINE! They refuse to share that object, for they fear they will never get it back again. When a niece of mine was one and half years old, her dad attempted to hold another baby, a newborn. She wanted nothing to do with it! 'He's MY daddy!'
This initial aspect of love is good in so far as it ignites our passions to go forward and seek out, yet it must be tempered with something greater, a deeper style of love, and this is where Agape enters into the picture.
Agape, as defined by Pope Benedict, is the love that seeks to sacrifice the self for the sake of the other. This is the love which Jesus refers to when he says: 'No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for a friend.' Here, we realize that to truly be near to another, we must freely give the self to the other.
This is the love that is at the heart of the mystery of the Trinity, for in the innermost dimension of the Trinity is a complete gift of self to the other persons of the Trinity: the Father competely pours out Himself to the Son, the Son returns everything back to the Father; the Spirit erupts from this inner exchange.
When we experience this type of love, both giving and receiving, we are drawn into the very mystery of the Trinity, and how sweet it is.
This is the love that forms a man who is a priest to be able to give his life in service of the Gospel. This is the love that forms a husband and wife in a complete exchange of self, so powerful that nine months later, it takes a name.
This is, unfortunately, also the love that the world does not understand and cannot grasp, for it is the antithesis of Original Sin, and this is where the incidents in Miami come into play.
But before addressing our fallen priest, we first return to that first Fall. The question arises as to what was that Original Sin? What is the origin? It started before Adam and Eve, with the Fall of the Angels.
Lucifer, the one who was to bear the Light of Christ to the World, saw his position and rejected it. Instead of giving himself for God's designs, as is proper to the Angels, his initial reaction was: 'I will not serve!'
This is the trick the Evil One played on Adam and Eve, convincing them that it is better to serve oneself rather than serving God. (When listening to the Devil's cunning tricks, remember the maxim: 'Half truths are like half bricks, you can throw them farther.')
When looking at the Fr. Cutie situation, admittedly from a distance, it seems that this is the root of what is happening here. He knew the rules by which he was to live by, celibacy is not 'optional.' Yet, when faced by the possibility of a seeming good, he fell into the traps of Eros unbridled, unrestrained by the higher Agape. And worse, when push comes to shove, his response: 'I will not serve.'
I pray for him, as well as for the other brothers who have left the priesthood. But it also causes me a reminder, as it should all priests (and even married folks), to keep in mind the desire and obligations of Agape: true love is found in giving of the self freely, honestly, and openly.
Then, with grace of Christ giving us the strength, we might be able to utter with all weakness: 'I WILL serve.'
Thursday, May 28, 2009
Friday, May 22, 2009
Yep, just five short years (lifetimes?) ago, I had a short nap in the Cathedral on a gorgeous Saturday morning (with the Cicadas singing along), woke up, had some guy with a pointy hat lay his hands on my head and whammo: Priest Forever.
Talking to a classmate the other day, I can hardly remember what it was like before hand. Maybe that has to do with being in seminary for 8 years, starting at the age of 19, so I was only in school before my life of service to the Church.
Congrats to my seven classmates, as well. 5 are pastors, 3 of us are in specialized ministry: DoV, Hospital Chaplain, and University Chaplain.
Hardly seems possible.
Is it fitting we were ordained on the feast of St. Rita, patron of lost causes?
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Also, Chris Osgood is speaking at Theology on Tap this week in Dayton, Ohio. Chris is accepted for the Fall to enter into Mount St. Mary's Seminary.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
The Year of Priesthood, announced by our beloved Pope Benedict XVI to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the death of the saintly Curé of Ars, St. John Mary Vianney, is drawing near. It will be inaugurated by the Holy Father on the 19th June, the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the World Day of Prayer for the Sanctification of Priests. The announcement of the Year of Priesthood has been very warmly received, especially amongst priests themselves. Everyone wants to commit themselves with determination, sincerity and fervour so that it may be a year amply celebrated in the whole world – in the Dioceses, parishes and in every local community – with the warm participation of our Catholic people who undoubtedly love their priests and want to see them happy, holy and joyous in their daily apostolic labours.
It must be a year that is both positive and forward looking in which the Church says to her priests above all, but also to all the Faithful and to wider society by means of the mass media, that she is proud of her priests, loves them, honours them, admires them and that she recognises with gratitude their pastoral work and the witness of the their life. Truthfully priests are important not only for what they do but also for who they are. Sadly, it is true that at the present time some priest have been shown to have been involved in gravely problematic and unfortunate situations. It is necessary to investigate these matters, pursue judicial processes and impose penalties accordingly. However, it is also important to keep in mind that these pertain to a very small portion of the clergy. The overwhelming majority of priests are people of great personal integrity, dedicated to the sacred ministry; men of prayer and of pastoral charity, who invest their entire existence in the fulfilment of their vocation and mission, often through great personal sacrifice, but always with an authentic love towards Jesus Christ, the Church and the people, in solidarity with the poor and the suffering. It is for this reason that the Church is proud of her priests wherever they may be found.
May this year be an occasion for a period of intense appreciation of the priestly identity, of the theology of the Catholic priesthood, and of the extraordinary meaning of the vocation and mission of priests within the Church and in society. This will require opportunities for study, days of recollection, spiritual exercises reflecting on the Priesthood, conferences and theological seminars in our ecclesiastical faculties, scientific research and respective publications.
The Holy Father, in announcing the Year in his allocution on the 16th March last to the Congregation for the Clergy during its Plenary Assembly, said that with this special year it is intended “to encourage priests in this striving for spiritual perfection on which, above all, the effectiveness of their ministry depends”. For this reason it must be, in a very special way, a year of prayer by priests, with priests and for priests, a year for the renewal of the spirituality of the presbyterate and of each priest. The Eucharist is, in this perspective, at the heart of priestly spirituality. Thus Eucharistic adoration for the sanctification of priests and the spiritual motherhood of religious women, consecrated and lay women towards priests, as previously proposed some time ago by the Congregation for the Clergy, could be further developed and would certainly bear the fruit of sanctification.
May it also be a year in which the concrete circumstances and the material sustenance of the clergy will be considered, since they live, at times, in situations of great poverty and hardship in many parts of the world.
May it be a year as well of religious and of public celebration which will bring the people – the local Catholic community – to pray, to reflect, to celebrate, and justly to give honour to their priests. In the ecclesial community a celebration is a very cordial event which expresses and nourishes Christian joy, a joy which springs from the certainty that God loves us and celebrates with us. May it therefore be an opportunity to develop the communion and friendship between priests and the communities entrusted to their care.
Many other aspects and initiatives could be mentioned that could enrich the Year of Priesthood, but here the faithful ingenuity of the local churches is called for. Thus, it would be good for every Dioceses and each parish and local community to establish, at the earliest opportunity, an effective programme for this special year. Clearly it would be important to begin the Year with some notable event. The local Churches are invited on the 19th June next, the same day on which the Holy Father will inaugurate the Year of Priesthood in
God will undoubtedly bless with great love this undertaking; and the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of the Clergy, will pray for each of you, dear priests.
Cláudio Cardinal Hummes
Archbishop Emeritus of
Prefect, Congregation for the Clergy.
Monday, May 18, 2009
Yep, that first time, when you realize that the words you are saying are not your words, but His. And by 'His,' I mean 'HIS!' You know Him, Lord and Savior, Creator of the Universe, Son of Mary, Son of God, True God and True Man; yep, that's the one.
Now, for the first time, I say these words aloud for all to hear and He is Present. chills doesn't describe.
Our Ordinands (along with three brothers from the Diocese of Toledo with whom they've spent the last five years of formation with) are currently on their pre-ordination canonical retreat, in silence, in prayer, ready to accept such a wonderous and awesome responsibility. Please pray for them.
As added stress, they were informed of their assignments at the beginning of their retreat. But b/c of the silence necessitated by the environs, the assignments have not yet been made public. That's a stressor. You are all excited about it, and then have to shut it for five days! I would explode.
I'm sure the news will come out shortly, so also pray for the assignments and pastors of these new priests. What a grace filled and joyous time.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Friday, May 15, 2009
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
BUT, word comes from the friendly folks at the Son Rise Morning Show (who's friendlier, Matt or Anna? I'll let you all decide) that you CAN get a plenary indulgence for the year for priests!
Details from the Vatican Information Service:
VATICAN CITY, 12 MAY 2009 (VIS) - According to a decree made public today and signed by Cardinal James Francis Stafford and Bishop Gianfranco Girotti, O.F.M. Conv., respectively penitentiary major and regent of the Apostolic Penitentiary, Benedict XVI will grant priests and faithful Plenary Indulgence for the occasion of the Year for Priests, which is due to run from 19 June 2009 to 19 June 2010 and has been called in honour of St. Jean Marie Vianney.
The period will begin with the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, "a day of priestly sanctification", says the text, when the Pope will celebrate Vespers before the relics of the saint, brought to Rome for the occasion by the bishop of the French diocese of Belley-Ars. The Year will end in St. Peter's Square, in the presence of priests from all over the world "who will renew their faithfulness to Christ and their bonds of fraternity".
The means to obtain the Plenary Indulgence are as follows:
(A) All truly penitent priests who, on any day, devotedly pray Lauds or Vespers before the Blessed Sacrament exposed to public adoration or in the tabernacle, and ... offer themselves with a ready and generous heart for the celebration of the Sacraments, especially the Sacrament of Penance, will be granted Plenary Indulgence, which they can also apply to their deceased confreres, if in accordance with current norms they take Sacramental Confession and the Eucharist and pray in accordance with the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff. Priests are furthermore granted Partial Indulgence, also applicable to deceased confreres, every time they devotedly recite the prayers duly approved to lead a saintly life and to carry out the duties entrusted to them.
(B) All truly penitent Christian faithful who, in church or oratory, devotedly attend Holy Mass and offer prayers to Jesus Christ, supreme and eternal Priest, for the priests of the Church, or perform any good work to sanctify and mould them to His Heart, are granted Plenary Indulgence, on the condition that they have expiated their sins through Sacramental Confession and prayed in accordance with the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff. This may be done on the opening and closing days of the Year of Priests, on the 150th anniversary of the death of St. Jean Marie Vianney, on the first Thursday of the month, or on any other day established by the ordinaries of particular places for the good of the faithful.
The elderly, the sick and all those who for any legitimate reason are unable to leave their homes, may still obtain Plenary Indulgence if, with the soul completely removed from attachment to any form of sin and with the intention of observing, as soon as they can, the usual three conditions, "on the days concerned, they pray for the sanctification of priests and offer their sickness and suffering to God through Mary, Queen of the Apostles".
Partial Indulgence is offered to all faithful each time they pray five Our Father, Ave Maria and Gloria Patri, or any other duly approved prayer "in honour of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, to ask that priests maintain purity and sanctity of life".
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
In the article, the question is posed: do we 'fight' on Goliath's terms, or David's?
When David ran forward to challenge Goliath, the terms of the battle changed; and as such, David took a distinct advantage, which helped bring about his victory.
As I read it, I'm thinking about many things: vocationally related, we're trying to attract vocations on the terms of the culture, not on the terms of the Church. When we do so, questions such as celibacy and permanence of ordination arise, because they are terms set by the culture, for better or worse.
When we talk about doctrine in the Church, there is a constant struggle over whether or not it is popular/popularist. But Church doctrine is TRUE, not a matter of popularist opinion.
So, how do we 'take the fight' to the Culture on our terms? I'm thinking outloud here, and really interested in furthering the discussion.
How can we be David versus the Goliath who rules today?
Friday, May 8, 2009
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Contrary to what might be expected, the first priest mentioned in the Bible is not from the Tribe of Levi. In fact, the first priest is described before Levi is even born. In Genesis 14, we are introduced to Melchizedek, who is described as ‘Priest of God Most High.’ Identified in Psalm 110 and extensively reflected upon in the Letter to the Hebrews, Melchizedek remains an elusive figure in the Scripture. Even so, he appears in the Roman Canon at Mass, today’s priests are ordained to ‘the Order of Melchizedek,’ and his appearance in Genesis forms the basis of some of our theology of the priesthood. As we begin the Year for Priests, it behooves us to reflect more deeply upon this King of Righteousness.
The first question that arises is regarding Melchizedek’s very identity: who is he? His appearance in Genesis 14 is quite minimal and set at a point very early on in Abram’s faith journey, as Abram defeats several war lords in the land of Canaan. Identified in the Scripture as ‘King of Salem,’ ancient Jewish sources see him as the leader of the entire area, a wise sage of a man whom the rest must respect. But this does not answer the question of his identity. We must look back even further.
As Abram presents Melchizedek with a tithe, Melchizedek gives him a blessing in return. Here is the hint we’ve been looking for! The last person to receive a blessing was the oldest son of Noah: Shem. Adding up the dates of Shem’s life, we learn that he was actually still alive during Abram’s time, and in fact outlived Abraham!
Blessings at this time in history were not things that could be easily exchanged, once they were given, they could not be taken back. (See Jacob’s stealing of Issac’s paternal blessing from his older brother Esau.) Blessings are tangible things, so Melchizedek/Shem must still have the one given to him by his father, Noah; and he now passes it on to his descendent Abram, the one chosen by God to be the father of many nations.
All of these identities have priestly functions, but it is taken to an even greater degree when we see what Melchizedek offers as a priest, for priests offer sacrifices and Melchizedek offers a sacrifice of bread and wine. This sets off signal flares in the eyes of a Catholic, for our priests also offer sacrifices of bread and wine, now fulfilled in Christ to be His very Body and Blood.
What becomes important for today is that the priesthood in which Catholic Priests share, and by extension that all the baptized share in as well, goes back not just to the Sacrifice in the Jerusalem Temple, but back to the very foundations of creation by God. Melchizedek is identified as ‘a priest forever’ in Psalm 110, his priesthood continues on into the ages. The Catholic Priest, in the place of Christ the Head, also shares in this eternal priesthood, continually offering a sacrifice of bread and wine before God in Heaven.
Uniting all of this into one, we see God’s divine plan in the scope of Salvation History. That Jesus came when he did is not some type of accidental occurrence, but had been planned out from before by our Loving Father. God wants to give us the tools to return to His presence in Heaven. Let us therefore rejoice that Christ left us with the great gift of the priesthood, that He continues to choose men to serve Him in this way, so that we might all come to worship Him forever around his altar in heaven.
For more information on the Priesthood of Christ and the Catholic Priesthood in the Order of Melchizedek, visit www.cincinnativocations.org
In case I missed posting my last column, it is here.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Monday, May 4, 2009
Ergo, passing along two articles that recently came across my desk:
A Married Priesthood Won't Remedy the Vocations Shortage
'Angels and Demons' revels in falsity that the Church is 'anti-science'