Friday, June 12, 2009

God's Involvement in Pain & St Jean M Vianney

Today's reflection is more informational that prayer based. However, what is to be presented here is surely material for prayer.

It is no unusual experience except for a newly ordained priest to be asked a question like this: "My nephew has cancer and is expected to live only a few months. How can God let this happen?" Likewise there are questions about the elderly: "How does God let this happen to my Mom? She has been so good to so many people throughout her life. Now she doesn't know us or who she is? Where is the love of God for Mom?"

A friend recommend a book to me recently that she had just finished reading. The title is "THE PROMISE." A relatively young priest has written this book. He is Father Jonathan Morris, a member of the Legionaries of Christ. You may have heard him on the Fox Cable News Station where he offered his knowledge as the religion analyst. For those who encounter questions that challenge the illness or death of a loved one, Fr. Morris has some wonderful insights. It is a book written for the average Mary or Joe ... no deep theological meanderings.

The second point of today's "reflection" is about an extraordinary priest ... Fr. Jean Marie Vianney, the famous Cure d'Ars. The seminarian who seemed to have little acumen for the philosophy and theology presented to him and his classmates. Many of his faculty were not in favor of his being ordained. But God knows who the real PhDs are!!!

On Friday, next week, June 19th, Pope Benedict will lead evening Vespers at the Vatican in the presence of the remains of the Saint as he inaugurates the Year of the Priest. During this year, the Holy Father will formally proclaim St. Jean Vianney to be the Patron of All the World's Priests not just parish priests. The 19th of June the year will be the Feast of the Sacred Heart, also a feast day to celebrate and pray for the Sanctification of Priests.

Surely this special year will be a grace-filled boon for the many priests who continue to strive for holiness in their lives. In the Fall of this year, it is my intention to initiate a "program" for my brother priests that will involve a blog, a podcast, a website, and after a year or so several talks throughout the country. Today's priests, especially the ones you encounter in the confessionals, at funerals, at weddings, in the pulpit each day or each Sunday a magnificent men. They are truly dedicated to the extraordinary vocation of serving God's people 24/7. As the number of priests continues to decline, as the number of older priests increases, the burden on many priests, especially Pastors, grows heavier. In many places of this nation there are priests who serve as Pastors in two or three parishes simultaneously. They are most grateful for the help of the Permanent Deacons and the many men and women who assist them in bringing communion to the sick, in teaching CCD programs, RCIA programs, ... you name it and your Pastor probably has someone or two or three helping him.

During the Year of the Priest, how blessed we priests would be if all our parishioners and friends took it upon themselves to recite the prayer that has been drafted for us throughout this year. The following are a few inspirational thoughts from St. Jean Marie Vianney that might lead you to remember your parish priests, the priests who taught you, the priests you count among your friends and especially those priest who carry heavy burden because of the shortage of priests we are facing in our country.

And the following is a prayer that I offer to my brother priests and religious for our own growth in spirituality and perfection as God's messenger to his people today. Bring this "Year of the Priest" to your Councils and you will, I am sure, walk away both humbled and exhilarated by the love and support you will find in those who work with you in your parish or your mission. A priest friend recently spoke about several financial difficulties that would be taking place in the lives of some of the priests in his archdiocese. He told me that the outpouring of care and love from those who were with him almost brought him to tears. He went back to his quarters and simply prayed words of thanksgiving. We priests can very easily lose awareness of the love our people have for us because the demands of our office have become what they are today. Thanks, brothers, for all you do.

A Priestly Prayer
As the Church celebrates the Year of the Priest
June 19, 2009 through June 19, 2010
Loving God, you called me to the priesthood.
Faithful God, you sustain me in my vocation.
Help me live a priestly life,
throughout this year and all my days.
Keep me faithful to your will
and to my ministry in word and sacrament.
May your peo
ple find the presence of Christ
in my steadfast witness to the Gospel
as I serve them and guide them.
I pray in the name of Jesus Christ,
and through your Holy Spirit,
one God forever and ever. Amen.
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