Priesthood: November 2011 Archives

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I was ordained a priest on November 16, 1986.
Looking back over the twenty-five years of priesthood
that Our Lord has given me,
I have but one desire: to give them all back to Him.

I give them back to Him to be purified and sanctified.
I would hold each one of these twenty-five years
under the torrent of Blood and of Water that flows from His Open Side.
I would surrender each one of them to the purifying fire of the Holy Ghost.
I would give each one of these twenty-five years
to His Immaculate Mother,
the Woman to whom my whole life belongs.

One's anniversary of priesthood
-- so many years of Mass, anni di messa, the Italians rightly call it,
is a bittersweet commemoration.
Bitter, because of the sins
that have marred the beauty of it all that could have been,
and sweet, because the Mercy of God leaves no bitterness in Its wake.

I detest and regret those sins of mine
that have marred my priesthood
and disfigured the adorable Face of Jesus
in the sight of men.
I pray for tears to weep over the wrong that I have done,
and over the good that I have left undone.

This twenty-fifth anniversary of my priesthood is, in some way,
like a preview of the particular judgment that awaits me
at the hour of my death, whenever, wherever, and however it comes.
It is a searchlight leaving no corner in darkness,
no sin disguised as something that it is not.

Made bold by Saint Benedict's injunction,
"Never to despair of the mercy of God,"
I beg Jesus to repair whatever harm I may have done to souls.
I implore Him for those whom I have alienated
from the light of His Face and the embrace of His Spouse, the Church.
I beseech Him to comfort those whom I have afflicted,
to sanctify those who looked to me for holiness
and found a stumbling block instead.
I ask Him to give joy to those whom I have saddened.

I kiss His wounded feet,
I weep over them,
lay hold of them
and will not let them go
until nothing remains of the evil I have done,
until all that I so regret
is swept away, utterly dissolved, in the tide of His Blood.

What is my prayer after twenty-five years of Mass?
It is this:

"Convert Thou me entirely, O my beloved Jesus,
that I may live every moment
--up to and including the very moment of my death--
with my eyes fixed on Thine adorable Face,
and with my heart hidden
in Thy piercèd Heart.

Thou hast called me to be the priest-adorer
of Thy Eucharistic Face;
make me, I pray Thee,
what Thou hast called me to be.
Let me so love Thee and adore Thee
that I may be for Thine afflicted Heart
the consoling friend for whom Thou hast waited so long.

Leave me not alone,
never forsake me,
so that I may never leave Thee alone,
and never forsake Thee.
Fix my vagrant heart before Thy tabernacle,
--before the one where Thou art least adored and most forgotten--
that I may persevere in a watch of adoration, of reparation, and of love
before Thy Eucharistic Face.

What can I give Thee
that Thou hast not given me?
Give Thou, then, to me superabundantly
so that I may give back to Thee superabundantly.

Give Thou me, I beseech Thee,
but a spark of Thine own blazing zeal for the glory of the Father;
let it consume me entirely
as a holocaust to the praise of His glory.

Give Thou me, I beseech Thee,
a share in Thy spousal love for the Church,
Thy Bride in heaven and on earth.
Like Thee, with Thee, in Thee,
let me lay down my life for her.

Give Thou me, I beseech Thee,
Thine own Heart's filial love for Thine Immaculate Mother,
that I may love her
as Thou wouldst have me love her;
that I might serve her
with a devotion that is true, and pure, and constant.

Give Thou me, I beseech Thee, the tender compassion
with which Thou wouldst have me care for souls,
that in my care for them
they may experience the solicitude of Thy Sacred Heart.

Twenty-five years ago,
by the laying-on of hands,
Thou didst make me Thy priest forever.
Renew in my soul,
I humbly entreat Thee
the grace of that Holy Sacrament and of that blessed day.
Make me, if possible, more Thy priest today
than I have ever been before.

Ratify and confirm me
in the ineffable grace of real participation
in the Mystery of the Cross where Thou art Priest and Victim.
Burn more deeply into my soul
the indelible character of Thy priesthood,
and, in that same fire, consume and destroy
all that dims, obstructs, or impedes its glorious radiance,
so that the light of Thy sacrifice may shine before men,
and its healing power go forth from me
as it went forth from Thee,
for Thou, O merciful Saviour,
hast made me Thy priest forever.

A thousand thousand lifetimes
would be too little time
to thank Thee, to bless Thee, to praise Thee
for so immeasurable a gift.
Give me then, when Thou callest me to Thyself,
an eternity in which to praise Thee beyond the veil
where, for the moment,Thou art hidden
in the glory of the Father
and in the brightness of the Holy Ghost.

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The Lamb that was slain
is worthy to receive power and divinity
and wisdom and strength and honour;
to Him be glory and empire
unto the ages of ages (Apocalypse 5:12; 1:6).
(Introit, Mass of Christ the King)

A Feast of Adoration of the Lamb

Last Sunday was the Feast of Christ the King. As I pondered the Introit of the Mass, I rediscovered the celebration of Christ the King as a feast of the adoration of the Lamb. A week earlier, on Saturday, October 22, in fact, I was in Ireland at the Shrine of Our Lady of Knock, where, together with the Mother of God, Saint Joseph, and Saint John the Evangelist, Our Lord manifested Himself in the form of the Lamb of Sacrifice. Perhaps the grace of Knock was still stirring within my heart, because I understood, in a deeper way, that the Most Holy Eucharist is the Sacrament of the Immolated Lamb.

A Priest's One Necessary Sermon

The Lamb who is adored in the glory of heaven is present in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar here on earth. If a priest were to preach but one sermon from the day of his Ordination until his death, that one sermon could be this: Ecce Agnus Dei, ecce qui tollit peccata mundi; Behold the Lamb of God, behold Him who taketh away the sins of the world (John 1:29).

Disappear Into Adoration

The priest is but a herald. He announces the presence of the Immolated Lamb, and then annihilates himself in humble adoration. Adoration leads inexorably to self-effacement. The Lamb is exalted; the herald of the Lamb disappears. The Bridegroom shines forth in all His beauty; the friend of the Bridegroom withdraws, content to listen to the sound of his voice.

Praedicatio Prima

A priest's adoration -- be it expressed in the liturgical rites (and especially at Holy Mass) or in silence before the Blessed Sacrament -- a priest's adoration is his praedicatio prima, his primary preaching. Without the praedicatio prima of adoration, no other preaching has credibility or meaning.

Preparing for Heaven

The priest who adores does on earth what the angels and saints do in heaven. He is employed on earth in the worship of the Lamb that will be his everlasting employment, his rest, and his glory in heaven.

The Compass That Orients One's Priesthood

The priest who is not first an adorer has lost the compass that orients all the rest of his life. The priesthood is ordered to adoration, and the summit of adoration is sacrifice: the immolation of a victim to God. The loss of the spirit of adoration is the ruin of the priesthood.

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.

Donations for Silverstream Priory