Tuesday, December 28, 2010
You are a Priest Forever
While the Universal Church marks the Feast of the Holy Innocents, December 28th also holds a particular significance for me; it is the 25th anniversary of my best friend's ordination to the priesthood.
These days, there are vicious attacks on the sacred priesthood. It seems that the media only concentrates on the few who commit horrible acts while ignoring the countless who continuously give of themselves as a daily act of oblation to the Lord. These men, my friend included, have freely chosen to forego marriage to dedicate themselves solely to serving Christ and His Church.
I thank God every day for my friend, and naturally, for his brother priests, especially the Holy Father. My friend is a gift from God to our diocese and to me, in particular. He is not perfect; none of us is. We sometimes argue about things.
However, in his person, in his celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and in his preaching, he manages to communicate to us that Something, Someone, greater than ourselves is present. He takes to heart the words of St. John the Baptist, "He must increase; I must decrease", when celebrating the Holy Sacrifice. He reminds us that the Mass is the Sacrifice. He teaches us, with every Mass, that we stand in the very presence of God and that we are engaging in a holy and sacred act. We have learned so much from him.
Observing him during the Mass, I sometimes think that without meaning to, he takes Pope Benedict XVI as his model. Sometimes, before Mass begins, we see him praying his office in front of the Blessed Sacrament. He tries to teach us that we need to pray. We need to prepare ourselves interiorly for Mass. While we do gather as a community, it is within the Mass that we ultimately find our true union. On occasion, he will celebrate Mass ad orientem, facing the crucifix, leading us in prayer and reminding us that the main focus during the Mass is Christ. He has taught us what it means to truly pray the Mass.
I do not know if I will be around when my friend celebrates his Golden Jubilee. But, I do know that I will always be grateful that God chose him to be a priest, a priest forever. May God continue to bless him, protect him and strengthen him in his vocation.