Priesthood: May 2010 Archives


All Priest

In recalling the holiness of Saint Philip, it occurs to me that it was essentially this: he was all priest. He was always and everywhere a priest. His priesthood suffused his very being, making him incandescent with the fire of the Cross and of the altar. As we move toward the conclusion of the Year of the Priest, Saint Philip Neri makes his appearance to stimulate our generosity, and to show us what happens when a priest surrenders to the fire of Divine Love.

Spiritual Combat: The Seven Capital Sins

Have no illusions about priestly holiness. Like all men, priests are locked in a combat to the death with the seven capital sins: pride, covetousness, lust, anger, gluttony, envy, and sloth. Priests are, if anything, subject to more subtle and more violent temptations than anyone else because they are Satan’s preferred quarry. Is the propensity to any one particular sin worse than the propensity to another? I dare not speculate about secrets of conscience. God alone probes the mind and heart.

To God All Things Are Possible

Souls called in a particular way to offer themselves for the sanctification of the clergy should entertain no illusions about the seriousness of their apostolic mission. There were, there are, and in all likelihood, there will continue to be some prideful priests, covetous priests, lustful priests, angry priests, gluttonous priests, priests who are drunkards, priests who consumed by envy, and priests who are lazy. One might be tempted then to say with the disciples, “Why then, who can be saved?’ (Mk 10:26). Listen to Our Lord’s reply. Jesus spoke it, according to Saint Mark, with His eyes fastened on the disciples. “Such things are impossible to man’s powers, but not to God’s; to God, all things are possible” (Mk 10:27).

Spiritual Maternity

Read the appeal from Rome, asking women in all states of life to become spiritual mothers to priests, and calling for a worldwide movement of adoration in a spirit of reparation and supplication for the priesthood. It is not enough to read it once and file it away. Our Lord will hold those women who consent to spiritual motherhood accountable for the sins and for the sanctity of a multitude of priests. Does this shock you? It shouldn’t. Saint Paul says, “A man’s body is all one, though it has a number of different organs; and all this multitude of organs goes to make up one body; so it is with Christ. . . . If one part is suffering, all the rest suffer with it; if one part is treated with honour, all the rest find pleasure in it. And you are Christ’s body, organs of it depending upon each other” (1 Cor 12:12, 26-27). Again, the Apostle says in another place, “Bear the burden of one another’s failings; then you will be fulfilling the law of Christ” (Gal 6:2).

A Contagious Joy

Speaking to priests in Warsaw four years ago, Pope Benedict XVI said, “You have been chosen from among the people, appointed to act in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. Believe in the power of your priesthood!” Saint Philip Neri believed in the power of his priesthood, and from that belief flowed his outstanding characteristic: a contagious joy.

The Face of Christ

The loving gaze of Jesus is the origin, the present, and the future of every priestly vocation. Priestly devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus, to His Eucharistic Face, is indispensable and it is, I would say, up to you to obtain that grace for them. This is not my personal idea. You will find it clearly expressed in the 2008 Message for the Day of Prayer for Priests, which opens with these words: “Reverend and dear Brothers in the Priesthood,
on the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus let us fix the eyes of our minds and hearts with a constant loving gaze on Christ, the one Savior of our lives and of the world. Focusing on Christ means focusing on that Face which every human being, consciously or not, seeks as a satisfying response to his own insuppressible thirst for happiness. We have encountered this Face and on that day, at that moment, his Love so deeply wounded our hearts that we could no longer refrain from asking ceaselessly to be in his Presence.”


Again, in his address to priests in Warsaw, the Holy Father enjoined them to practice Eucharistic Adoration as an antidote for the noise of the world, and to teach others to adore too. “In a world where there is so much noise, so much bewilderment, there is a need for silent adoration of Jesus concealed in the Host. Be assiduous in the prayer of adoration and teach it to the faithful. It is a source of comfort and light particularly to those who are suffering.”

Experts in Joy

Pope Benedict XVI teaches that, “the faithful expect only one thing from priests: that they be specialists in promoting the encounter between man and God. The priest is not asked to be an expert in economics, construction or politics. He is expected to be an expert in the spiritual life.” Saint Philip Neri was just that: an expert in the spiritual life and, precisely for that reason, he was an expert in joy.

Ineffable Joy

“You never saw Him but you learned to love Him,” says Saint Peter, “you may not see Him even now, but you believe in Him, and if you continue to believe in Him, how you will triumph! How ineffable your joy will be, and how sublime, when you reap the fruit of that faith of yours, the salvation of your souls” (1 P 1:8-9). May Saint Philip obtain for us today hearts open to the joy that no one can take from us and, with you, may he intercede for all priests that they, like him, may be experts in joy.

A Sacerdotal Pentecost

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From a Priest's Notebook

A priest shares what was given him in prayer concerning a sacerdotal Pentecost, a Pentecost of priests, a revival of priestly holiness in the Church. I translated the text from the original French. The image shows Saint John the Apostle on Pentecost.

Aujourd’hui, je crois que c’était pendant les mystères glorieux du rosaire, le Seigneur m’a parlé dune Pentecôte sacerdotale, d’une grâce obtenue par l’intercession de la Vierge Marie pour tous les prêtres de l'Église. À tous sera offerte la grâce d’une nouvelle effusion de l’Esprit Saint pour purifier le sacerdoce des impuretés qui l’ont défiguré et pour redonner au sacerdoce un éclat de sainteté tel qu’il n’a jamais eu dans Église depuis le temps des apôtres.

"Today, I think it was during the glorious mysteries of the rosary, the Lord spoke to me of a sacerdotal Pentecost, of a grace obtained by the intercession of the Virgin Mary for all the priests of the Church. To all [priests] will be offered the grace of a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit to purify the priesthood of the impurities that have disfigured it, and to restore to the priesthood a brightness of holiness such as the Church has never had since the times of the Apostles."

Cette Pentecôte sacerdotale se prépare déjà dans le silence et dans l’adoration du Saint Sacrement. Les prêtres qui aiment Marie et qui sont fidèles à prier leur chapelet seront les premiers à en bénéficier. Leur sacerdoce sera merveilleusement renouvelé et il leur sera donné une abondance de charismes pour vaincre le mal et guérir ceux qui sont sous l’emprise du Mauvais. Il m’est donné de comprendre que l’intercession du Pape Jean-Paul II a aussi joué un rôle en obtenant par Marie cette grâce de la Pentecôte sacerdotale.

"This sacerdotal Pentecost is being prepared already in silence and in the adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. The priests who love Mary and who are faithful to pray her rosary will be the first ones to benefit from it. Their priesthood will be wonderfully renewed and they will be given an abundance of charisms to vanquish evil and to heal those under the sway of the Evil One. It was given me to understand that the intercession of Pope John Paul II will also have played a role in obtaining through Mary this grace of the Pentecost of Priests."

Certains prêtres refuseront cette grâce de la Pentecôte sacerdotale, soit par orgueil, soit par manque de confiance, soit par une absence de foi en la présence réelle du Christ au Saint Sacrement. Cette Pentecôte sacerdotale partira du tabernacle (ou des tabernacles du monde) comme d’un foyer ardent de charité. Les prêtres qui auront été trouvés fidèles à tenir compagnie à Jésus-Hostie se réjouiront. Ils comprendront tout de suite les merveilles qu’il voudra faire en eux et par eux. La Pentecôte sacerdotale rejoindra d’abord les prêtres qui sont de vrais fils de Marie, vivant comme Saint Jean, dans son intimité, tout près de son Cœur immaculé.

"Certain priests will refuse this grace of the sacerdotal Pentecost, out of pride, or a lack of confidence, or an absence of faith in the real presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. This sacerdotal Pentecost will begin from the tabernacle (or the tabernacles of the world) as from a burning hearth of charity. Priests who will have been found faithful in keeping company with Jesus the Host will rejoice. They will understand straightaway the wonders that He will want to do in them and through them. The sacerdotal Pentecost will affect first of all the priests who are true sons of Mary, living like Saint John, in her intimacy, very close to her Immaculate Heart."

About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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