Inserts for parish bulletins asking for prayers and appealing for readers to consider an invitation to serve as diocesan priests have been circulated to all parishes and are available from here.
Inserts for parish bulletins asking for prayers and appealing for readers to consider an invitation to serve as diocesan priests have been circulated to all parishes and are available from here.
Prayer cards were distributed on Vocations Sunday this year asking those at Mass to “Pray for the priests we need for the future and for the priests we have today” . Should you require prayer cards or posters to help in promoting priesthood in Scotland then please contact the Priests for Scotland office. We will be happy to supply so far as stock allows.
This initiative started last year and involved the distribution of memory sticks to young people attending World Youth Day 2011 and those attending Lourdes with Diocesan Pilgrimages 2012. The project is still ongoing. The memory stick contained ten short video presentation promoting priesthood or religious life. The memory stick also contained adequate space for the young person to use the available memory for study or for retaining other data. This initiative successfully delivered Vocational material to the point of use, a task not always easy to accomplish in vocations promotion.
“Suffering is not beneath human dignity. I mean: it is possible to suffer with dignity and without. I mean: most of us in the West don’t understand the art of suffering and experience a thousand fears instead. We cease to be alive, being full of fear, bitterness, hatred and despair.” Etty. The Letters and Diaries of Etty Hillesum 1941-1943, Klass A. D. Smelik, p. 459.
The insights of this mystic Jewess in Holland during the Nazi occupation are inspiring. The failure to accept life’s contradictions is the cause of most destructive suffering for ourselves – and for others! “Systems” are notorious for self-preservation and imposing on individuals. Etty’s own prayer gives us energy:
“God, take me by Your hand, I shall follow You dutifully, and not resist too much. I shall evade none of the tempests life has in store for me, I shall try to face it all as best I can. But now and then grant me a short respite. I shall never again assume, in my innocence, that any peace that comes my way will be eternal. I shall accept all the inevitable tumult and struggle. I delight in warmth and security, but I shall not rebel if I have to suffer cold, should You so decree. I shall follow wherever Your hand leads me and shall try not to be afraid. I shall try to spread some of my warmth, of my genuine love for others, wherever I go. But we shouldn’t boast of our love for others. We cannot be sure that it really exists. I don’t want to be anything special, I only want to try to be true to that in me which seeks to fulfil its promise. I sometimes imagine that I long for the seclusion of a nunnery. But I know that I must seek You among people, out in the world.” (p. 154)
Mgr. James MacNeill
“Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours.”
Attributed to Saint Teresa of Avila, here is the whole prayer:
Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.
This prayer is so clear it probably doesn’t need much commentary, it’s powerful in itself and the message is startlingly fresh. It does, however, leave a lot of unfinished business and some important questions hanging in the air: How can I use my hands, my feet, my body to be another Christ? How do my eyes see the world – do they have his compassion? What am I going to do about it? Take a few minutes and look at your hands and your feet, look at your eyes is a mirror– appreciate them. Take a moment and think about what you do with them, think about just having them and what a gift they are. Christ trusts us that’s obvious, he showers us with gifts and he wants us to continue his work, continue being him for others. It is truly awesome but we are not alone, he has promised us his Spirit. He walks with us, he loves in us. But he needs us to say YES!
Sr. Johann Macleod
"Behold the days shall come says the Lord. Jeremiah 31,31
All these things, however, were done by way of preparation and as a figure of that new and perfect covenant, which was to be ratified in Christ, and of that fuller revelation which was to be given through the Word of God Himself made flesh. "Behold the days shall come saith the Lord, and I will make a new covenant with the House of Israel, and with the house of Judah . . . I will give my law in their bowels, and I will write it in their heart, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people . . . For all of them shall know Me, from the least of them even to the greatest, saith the Lord.
Being ‘Called to the Priesthood’ is not a term with which I am comfortable. Even the word ‘Vocation’ unsettles me. How then could I go through a process of discernment, pass through the seminary and be Ordained for priesthood if I have never heard the call?
My own thoughts on the subject are crystalised by a memory of attending mass in the parish during my time in seminary. The prayer for ‘Vocations’ was being said after communion and I remember feeling honoured with the prayers and at the same time unworthy of these prayers.
The question, looking back, was what was the core purpose of this prayer. I know now that we can’t conjure up the will of God since it is already there as gift. I believe the prayer was an expression of the desire for the days of the Lord. This pious moment wasn’t simply a call for more priests, it was the wider call of the people for the fullness of God’s reign.
The reign of God is when we ‘nurture in ourselves moral sensitivities that have special concern for those who are hurt or lost, that make room for the outcast, that are disposed to act towards others with mercy and forgiveness and that are inclusive of all.’ (Page 18 The Way of Goodness and Holiness, Richard Gula)
This ‘nurturing’, for us, takes place in the life of the church. In participating in the prayer for “Vocations’, I participated in the parish’s longing for the reign of God. Our prayers meanwhile cannot conjure up the reign of God since it is pure gift. What our prayer does is create the right disposition within us and within me to respond to this gift. The ‘Vocation’ as it is known is the fine-tuning of that disposition developed in the earliest school of prayer, which took place in the home, orientated in the life of the parish and given the DNA of esteem for the clergy.
The prayer is answered when all of us are given the courage to say yes to this offer of God’s reign. Then begins the journey of discovering the consequence and purpose of this yes in our lives. The consequence of my yes and the purpose given to it is that I am a priest.
“A Sacrament is a festive action in which Christians assemble to celebrate their lived experience and to call to heart their common story. The action is a symbol of God’s care for us in Christ. Enacting the symbol brings us closer to one another in the Church to the Lord who is there for us.”
(Tad Guzie, The Book of Sacramental Basics, Paulist Press, New York/ Mahwah, 1981)
I am always fascinated by the development of the Church and particularly its sacramental life. Recognising what God does for His people and how He nourishes and strengthens them, opens us up to recognising what a privilege it is to be part of the Church. Of course, sacraments have evolved and developed to become what they are, but they are very much moments of encounter with the living Lord.
The journey for adults who want to become members of the Church is a particularly profound one. To journey with those seeking life in the Church, and therefore in the sacraments, ultimately to bring them to life through the Sacraments is entirely life giving. I had the privilege this Easter of baptising two adults, confirming them and bringing them into Eucharistic sharing. A further two adults were received into the Church, confirmed and admitted to the Eucharist. What a joy, as a priest, to journey with these brave individuals and continue to share with them the joy of membership in the Church.
Most Catholics remember such sacramental moments. Few of us remember baptism, but have vivid memories of the celebration of Confirmation and First Communion. We celebrate these events as ‘festive’ occasions in the presence of our friends, families and the whole worshipping community. God does something for us and we gain a new strength from God. We ‘call to heart our common story’ through listening to and responding to the Word of God, whilst sharing a sacramental journey. It is that common story that strengthens the unity of the Christian believers and implies the growth of the Church.
Throughout the Easter Season, we listen each day to the Acts of the Apostles and find a renewed passion through hearing how the Church, after the Resurrection begins to spread and grow. That growth never stops. A little like those four who became members of the Church in this parish, or the 121 who became members of the Church in Glasgow this year, our mission never ceases to invite new members. The Apostles encountered hardships and difficulties, but continued in their mission. When the numbers of believers increases, they realise the need to share out the tasks required to care for people so as not to neglect the preaching of the Word. It’s no different in our day: we need priests and deacons who will preach the Word and celebrate the sacraments while others carry out the responsibility of caring for the day to day needs of their communities.
The Easter Season is the central time for the celebration of the sacraments, bringing life, vigour and enthusiasm to all those who receive them. What is needed is the continued growth of believers and priests and deacons to minister to them as we continue the mission of the apostles in preaching the Word and sharing the life of Christ with the whole world!
Rev. David Wallace
"The adult, unlike the adolescent, can live with ambiguity."
The image of Jesus on the cross sees him holding his arms out wide, in opposite directions. Could it be that one arm is reaching out to all that is wrong in life, while the other arm is reaching out for God’s grace? Looking at him, it is as if he holds together these two apparent opposites, without succumbing to the pull of evil. It is a remarkable image and an even more remarkable statement; Jesus shows that it is possible, in human life, to live with ambiguity!
Too often life can be painted in black and white. In our younger years, when we first develop a sense of ourselves, we can easily fall into the trap of thinking that all that matters is how I see things. But, this is a stage that we must grow through and ultimately leave behind, because if we remain in perpetual adolescence we will never come to maturity, and never discover the truth that Jesus revealed on the cross.
What separates adulthood from adolescence is the understanding that there is a way of seeing things that is bigger than mine, a life that is more than mine, and an agenda that is different from mine. The struggle to come to this realisation involves letting go of many of the things that have comforted, supported and reassured me along the way.
Can I bear the tension of holding together conflicting forces in life without succumbing to the worst of them? Can I hold together the inner forces that pull me apart without becoming something less than my true self? Can I let go of the things that have comforted and supported me all through life? Is it humanly possible to live with these ambiguities? Look at Jesus on the cross. He did it, and so can you!
Rev. Willie Boyd
“That is why I am continually recalling the same truths, even though you already know them and hold firm to them”. 2Peter;12
The remit of these reflections is to reflect on a text that has changed the person’s life. The quote that I have chosen is just about in that category. What I mean is that once I discovered this quote from the Second letter of St Peter it best summed up what I thought. It was a discovery, it was a moment of “That is what I was trying to say”.
It is a quote that alludes to scripture, the Good News of Jesus Christ. In our worship at Mass Sunday by Sunday we do repeat the same truths, scripture does not change from one liturgical year to the next. It is however a living word and never the same, it calls us to change, conversion and growth, to maturity in faith.
It alludes to the teaching of the church. Through the revelation of scripture and the living Tradition of the Church there are those things that we hold firm to and teach to the world.
It also alludes to a living out of the faith. Yes we know the story; yes we know the content and yes we know what we believe, but there is also a call to live them with our lives. This opens up all the various notions that we have of vocation and service in the Lord’s name. For some we hope and pray that that expression of vocation will be the Diocesan Priesthood.
Peter’s motivation for writing his Pastoral letter is to draw all people to Christ, to strengthen those who already profess their faith and to serve and care for all people in response to the invitation by the Lord to feed His sheep. Hopefully that is that work of all the baptised and especially those who serve as priests.
Rev. Gerard Donnelly
“God deliver us from silly devotions and sour faced saints."
This saying is attributed to St. Teresa of Avila and more than amply backed up by many other such statements in her writings.
I don’t know about you, but I can never picture a Pharisee with a broad smile on his face! Everything is serious, competitive and goes against the grain – the grain that is, of happy human living.
How come religion is associated with glumness, boredom and even pain? We keep meeting people in the Gospels and the other writings of the New Testament who are filled with joy and enthusiasm, and St. Paul lists joy second in his list of the fruits of the Spirit. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy,…”
No joy, no holiness.
There is joy which can rest deep in our hearts in the midst of suffering and pain as well as when all is going well for us.
Edith Stein, a Jewess and philosopher had embraced atheism in her youth. While searching for the truth she was thrown into confusion when, on going to visit a young and newly widowed friend and wondering how to console her, found a profound joy in the young woman, born of her faith and hope in Christ. Edith later became a Catholic and a Carmelite Nun before dying in Auswitch.
Joy comes with freedom and love.
No joy, no freedom.
 Galatians 5:22
"Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom."
These lines from Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116 give us an insight into the strength and beauty of human love. They express the difference between infatuation and love. Infatuation on its own is almost always “Time’s fool”, whereas no matter what changes, love holds fast and stays true.
The constant tradition of the Scriptures and of Christianity across the centuries has found in human love a reflection of divine love, so that what is beautiful and strong in human love draws us to understand God’s love and even God’s nature.
Many people today, young and old, but perhaps particularly the young, are attracted and even fascinated by the magnetism of celebrity: the culture, the life-style, the fame and the fortune. Yet all of these things fall within the compass of Time’s bending sickle: the do not last; they wither and fade with age. Love, however, remains and conquers even death. This is the message of the Gospel: it is the beating heart of the teaching of Jesus, who in a most perfect way has shown how human love is capable of embodying the love of God, which is everlasting and unchanging and which shines through even changing things shedding the light of immortality on what to human eyes seems doomed to perish.
The message we are called to announce is the message of God’s unchanging love made visible in Christ Jesus which conquers sin and death and leads those who allow themselves to be touched by it into the fullness of life which only God has the power to give.
Rev. Paul Conroy
“Love is not something reserved for important matters, but must be exercised above all in the ordinary circumstances of daily life.” (Gaudium et Spes 38.)
It began in the usual manner, over to the church around 7.30am; see the workers as they leave their Lenten Service at 7.40am. In to Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, breakfast at 8.30am, Morning Prayer in the church at 9.10am and then Mass at 9.30am. Then it was off to one of our primary schools, class by class, story by story, joke by joke, “so you know me Father,” a child declares, “yes Karen” a delighted smile dawns, and a child is drawn closer to her parish family. Lunch, then home visits, Monday’s funeral, Wednesday’s funeral. Stories told, humour shared, facts checked, sermon beginning to form, in my head. Prayers said and onto visit the sick. A man anointed and received communion, his cancer taking its toll, another victim of this terrible disease, a woman this time. Communion celebrated and shared with her sister. They are delighted at my surprise visit, as they are just back from the hospital, and they’ve just got the dreaded news. “It’s just like you to appear when your most needed Father, its uncanny” A tearful celebration of Holy Communion, a tangible celebration of their love for Christ, his Church and his priest. Faith at its best. The day was full of the ordinary, but it was an extraordinary day. In the ordinary daily round, I know in my head, I do this out of love for Christ and his people. But in the ordinary daily round it was actually myself who experienced this love, I felt loved, I felt needed and I felt affirmed. In the car going home, I smiled and thought, “This is a great way to live; this is just the best job in the world”
Fr. John Campbell
“Yes,” said I, “strictly speaking, the question is not how to get cured, but how to live.”
Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim , Kindle Edition, p. 159.
We are desperate for a cure, and there is no cure for the human condition. It just is as it is. It is rather difficult; quite messy at times. If we are not looking for a cure, then we have a tendency to live with “the determination to lounge safely through existence…” (Lord Jim, p. 9). But ultimately the latter becomes the riskiest path. For Conrad the way to live is “to the destructive element submit yourself, and with the exertions of your hands and feet in the water make the deep, deep sea keep you up.” (p.160) The deep is ultimately ourselves and we run away from it. Conrad again: “… it is my belief no man ever understands quite his own artful dodges to escape from the grim shadow of self-knowledge.” (p.59) Take on life as it is; “immerse” yourself in it with commitment to the real.
Does this give impetus to our understanding and living of the Gospel message? Jesus does not offer an easy solution, a comfortable life or a hand-out cure. He invites us, rather, to take up the cross (with him, of course); to lose our lives; to surrender; to submit ourselves to the consequences of the human condition, my mysteriously unique human condition. This is the paradox at the heart of the Christian experience: there is no cure for the human condition as we know it now; but we can live, come alive, by willingly immersing ourselves in it, by dying. Our Resurrection faith allows us already in the very carrying of the cross to live in certain hope, and self-surrendering love, until the life and glory which is out of all proportion is revealed when the dying is complete.
Mgr. James MacNeill
"It is a January morning in County Kerry. The Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of the craggy islands below me, is roiled with whitecaps and angry palisades of water crashing against the tiny islets in their rocky midst. The windstorms of the last two nights have drenched the hills… It is an average Kerry winter day.
But not average for some. In the last two days of rocking, howling wind, five Irish fishermen and their trawler have been reported missing at sea. This morning, they were pronounced dead, the sea too wild yet to even attempt to recover their bodies.
Who they were, how old they were, I do not know. But one thing I do know: life and time are ghosted creatures for all of us. Some of us, like the fishermen caught in a season’s windstorm, leave it by surprise. Most of us, like you and me, inch our way though life, sure… that it will never end, (yet) certain that it will."
(The Gift of Years, Joan Chittister, DLT, London, 2009 – page vii)
In a supposedly un-shockable era, we still manage to be completely bowled over, stunned by the untimely death of celebrity figures whether iconic musicians like Whitney Houston, Amy Winehouse or Michael Jackson; actors like Heath Ledger; sports champions like Dan Wheldon, or news-stopping tragedies like the death of Princess Diana. Even the most hard-hearted or unthinking of people could scarcely fail to be forced by death into thinking about life. A consumer-society, a secularist culture might prefer us not to think too much, certainly not to think of life-and-death issues and absolutely not in terms of God, faith or Christian community. However, maybe our natural instincts take over, because so often when we emerge from the shock of death, we re-evaluate life and we even reconsider the values of God’s gift of life to us in Christ. A Christian life, a journey spent in the company of Christ, a life-time given to seeking Christ in others and sharing Christ with others – that might just give a dimension to living that starts to make sense; the sense of grace and blessing. No life is too long for all the graces God has to shower upon us; no life so short that it fails to bring the miracle of God’s blessing to us.
Shock and horror at unexpected departures from life can simply leave us numb and perplexed. A life spent expecting to meet Christ and share Christ with others might shock also – it might just shock others into really living life, rather than being constantly overawed by death.
Fr. John Hughes
“I remind you to kindle the gift of God that is within you.” (2 Tim. 1:6)
The quotation above is the title of Chapter six of “Pastores Dabo Vobis” about the ongoing formation of priests. However, it is as relevant to the seminarian and the person who may be considering a vocation to the Diocesan Priesthood. The gifts that we have all received are at the heartbeat of our life. They offer a pulse to our life of faith. The heartbeat for the life of any priest, Diocesan or religious is fundamental his relationship with God and his life of prayer. Priesthood is ongoing process. We must always have the capacity to have an openness to God. The Priest is a man of communion with as a basic orientation to be a man of God in order to be a man for others. No priest can ever see himself as the finished product. Priesthood is not something that is bought off the shelves of a high street supermarket. It is, however, a life lived in and through the presence of God. The Diocesan Priest lives his life in the realm of God. Those gifts may be academic, pastoral or spiritual but we must never allow ourselves to be convinced that we are self-sufficient, never in the need of additional support or encouragement. Those gifts, that we all have are for the good of the Church, and therefore to the People of God whom we are asked to serve. Service and sacrifice are part of the life of the Priest. The priest has to be a man of prayer centre on the Eucharist which should be at the heart of his ministry and his life of prayer. At the same time, he must be able to articulate his faith, preach in a credible and convincing fashion and be willing to engage in debate and study so he too shares in the ongoing mission and evangelisation of the world. Diocesan Priesthood is both gift and task and we should not underestimate the power of God to continually rekindle the flame of faith in our lives for the sake of the message of the Gospel which so urgently in our own land needs credible, competent and authentic men of faith to draw people into the mystery of Eucharist because with the Eucharist, the source and summit of our Christian life, we cannot live.
Rev. Paul Milarvie
“Fix your eyes upon him”
(Pope Benedict XVI to Seminarians 20 VIII 2011)
“Fix your eyes upon him who through his incarnation is the supreme revelation of God to the world and through his resurrection faithfully fulfils his promise”. (Pope Benedict XVI to Seminarians 20 VIII 2011) In speaking to seminarians the Pope returned again and again to the figure of Christ as the one who is to be the model for the seminarians in terms of their call and their growth in vocation towards priesthood. One of the first steps in recognising a call to priesthood is the ability to see ourselves in a real relationship with Christ. A relationship which makes us want to spend more time with him and in doing so we find ourselves listening to what his call holds for us, what he is asking of us and we see how he is helping us to respond. By fixing our eyes on him we become aware of the mystery of God and the part that we are being asked to play in bringing Christ to the people of our day. As we become more fully aware of the generosity of God in giving his Son to be the Saviour of the world, and our saviour, then we become more filled with the zeal to do our part in making that salvation known.
‘Finally, I would like to say a word to you, my dear young Catholics of Scotland. I urge you to lead lives worthy of our Lord (cf. Eph 4:1) and of yourselves. There are many temptations placed before you every day - drugs, money, sex, pornography, alcohol - which the world tells you will bring you happiness, yet these things are destructive and divisive. There is only one thing which lasts: the love of Jesus Christ personally for each one of you. Search for him, know him and love him, and he will set you free from slavery to the glittering but superficial existence frequently proposed by today’s society. Put aside what is worthless and learn of your own dignity as children of God. In today’s Gospel, Jesus asks us to pray for vocations: I pray that many of you will know and love Jesus Christ and, through that encounter, will dedicate yourselves completely to God, especially those of you who are called to the priesthood and religious life. This is the challenge the Lord gives to you today: the Church now belongs to you!’
Pope Benedict XVI’s homily at Bellahouston, 16.9.10
I have some fond memories of Pope John Paul II’s visit to Scotland in 1982. I was only eight years old at the time, but remember the excitement of his visit, seeing him pass by on his tour around the park with Archbishop Winning, the beautiful summer’s day and taking part in the Mass celebrated with so many people. I recall people cheering, shouting, waving flags and a real sense of a celebration. The visit of Pope Benedict had a similar sense of festival, and yet it was different. As an eight year old, I have no recollection of what Pope John Paul said. Some twenty eight years on, the experience was different.
As chaplain to young people in Glasgow, I had participated at World Youth Day in Sydney in 2008 and had some experience of Benedict’s words to young people. His messages, particularly for World Youth Day on Palm Sunday each year, offer a unique insight into the vocation of a Christian. His words at Bellahouston on that day in September 2010 were no different and as I listened to what he had to say, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of joy and enthusiasm for living the Gospel: a real sense of excitement for passing on the powerful message of the Gospel.
Pope Benedict is clearly very aware of the temptations that exist for young people in their pursuit of happiness, and yet he calls them to be seekers: to search for, know and love God. In fact, the following day addressing young people specifically, he said “Happiness is something we all want, but one of the great tragedies in this world is that so many people never find it, because they look for it in the wrong places. The key to it is very simple – true happiness is to be found in God.” (Address to young people at St. Mary’s College, Twickenham, 17th September 2010). The vocation of Christian life is to find happiness in God through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. This is indeed good news to be shared and to be explored for many years to come with young people in their search for happiness.
A particular expression of this happiness for the Holy Father is clearly found in the vocation to priesthood and religious life. Having found a personal relationship with Christ, the Pope urges young people to ‘completely dedicate themselves to God’. In fact, he mentioned this again specifically when he said that Jesus “needs the powerful love of contemplative religious, who sustain the Church’s witness and activity through their constant prayer. And he needs priests, good and holy priests, men who are willing to lay down their lives for their sheep.” (Vigil at Hyde Park, 18th September 2010)
Benedict’s message is consistent. In fact, in his message for WYD 2011, he writes: “Enter into a personal dialogue with Jesus Christ and cultivate it in faith. Get to know him better by reading the Gospels and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Converse with him in prayer, and place your trust in him.” This certainly rings a bell with the words he delivered at Bellahouston and continues to say in subsequent addresses. Even as recently as his letter to young people on the occasion of this year’s World Youth Day where expresses joy as the focus for the search, it is clear that the Holy Father wants young people to find happiness and joy in their lives, to avoid those things which may seem tempting, but bring only momentary gratification and to find true meaning in a real and personal relationship with Christ.
The challenge of the Pope’s message might be found in the closing words of his homily at Bellahouston when he said to the young people gathered: “The Church now belongs to you!” Perhaps this invitation is even clearer in his letter for World Youth Day 2011, when he says: “the Church depends on you! She needs your lively faith, your creative charity and the energy of your hope. Your presence renews, rejuvenates and gives new energy to the Church.”
For those who answer the call to priesthood or religious life, this is the challenge: to direct our energy with lively faith, creative charity and the energy of hope, giving new life into the Church and supporting its continued growth in the years to come. Using your gifts, talents, strengths and energy at the service of God and his people brings life to others and allows other to enter into the personal relationship with Christ. This is good news and must be shared.
For those considering a vocation to Priesthood or the Religious Life, Pope Benedict urges: “Ask our Lord what he has in mind for you! Ask him for the generosity to say “yes!” Do not be afraid to give yourself totally to Jesus. He will give you the grace you need to fulfil your vocation."
Rev. David Wallace
“Activism by itself can even be heroic, but in the end external action is fruitless and loses its effectiveness unless it is born from deep inner communion with Christ. “
(Pope Benedict XVI, Homily from Holy Thursday Chrism Mass, Rome, 13 April 2006)
Diocesan Priests can be busy people who often have to be people who are multi-tasking. There is always the danger to be “on the go.” While this in itself is good and there is no doubt that the ministry of the priest can be sanctifying what he says and does there is always the danger that he may fall doing things “out of a sense of duty” or a vague or ill-informed functionalism. Inevitably he simply becomes a machine who consciously or unconsciously has eclipsed the reality of God from his Priesthood. Yet, no priest can ever own his Priesthood because it is gift. We must root ourselves in God. The aim of our Priesthood is to live it for the greater glory of God, for the good of the Church and for service in the Church. We must not become un-hinged. We must never become the lone-ranger because that is when the self-centredness of the individual becomes all too clear for others to see. We must maintain that relationship with Christ from which flows our relationship with fellow priests. Every priest must remember to say his prayers, not just the liturgy of the hours but his own personal prayers that keeps him connected with God and the people to whom he serves. If the priest becomes disconnected he, in time, fails to feed the people who are looking to be fed. If he prayers, his people knows that he prays through his sermons and the way in which he celebrates the Eucharist. It is easy for the Priest to feel that he must be on the go. Yet, the Priest who gives time to prayer, spiritual reading, study and personal reflection may be the more effective minister of word and sacrament which is at the heart of his Priesthood. We must always find a balance that allows us to be both engaged and active in our Priesthood and at the same time take quality time to remain in touch with God, other Priests for the good of the People we have been called to serve.
Rev. Paul Milarvie
“The Lord is my shepherd there is nothing I shall want.”
In the course of the four week breviary this psalm appears in Prayer During the Day in Sundays 2 and 4. It always seems to me that it does deserve a higher profile. It is however a pleasant surprise when it does come around. I think due to its association with the Crimmond tune we usually sing and also its associations with funerals it is never seen in a truly positive or happy light. This is to do it a great disservice.
The opening verse: “The Lord is my Shepherd, there is nothing I shall want” is the invitation to life with and in Christ, the Good Shepherd. It is relational, our relationship with the Lord is a loving and caring one, He seeks everything that is good for us and provides for our every need. My father is a font of quotes and phrases and anecdotes and one of his is “I don’t want to be rich, I just want a pound in my pocket every time I need one”. As priests we are called to simplicity of life, we are not called to flamboyance or extravagance. With this in mind how comforting to know that everything we could possibly want and need will be provided for, and everything we could want and need and is necessary in life is found in the person of Jesus Christ. The rest of the psalm goes on to reinforce what is expressed in this opening line; “You are there with your crook and your staff with these you give me comfort”; “my cup is overflowing”. It ends of course with that pledge of the eternal life with Christ “In the Lord’s own house shall I dwell for ever and ever”.
Rev. Gerard Donnelly