August 12, 2011

Seeking the Face of the Lord

Core of the priesthood is being a friend of Jesus in prayer

This week, I continue with Part 2 of the Ordination Instruction for Father Dustin Boehm.

Ordination Instruction - Part 2

There is something else about obedience.

Blessed Pope John Paul II once remarked about the gesture of the ordinand putting his hands in those of the bishop. “A priest must be able to feel, especially in moments of difficulty, of loneliness, that his hands are held tightly by the archbishop’s.”

Isn’t it a mutual gesture, symbolic of safety in the hands of Christ?

A priest may complain that as soon as he comes into church to pray the office or to celebrate Mass, a thousand thoughts fill his mind and distract him from God.

But St. Charles Borromeo asks, “How did he prepare? What means did he use to collect his thoughts, and to remain recollected?”

The saint asks, “Would you like me to teach you how to grow from virtue to virtue and how, if you are already recollected at prayer, you can be even more attentive and so give God more pleasing worship? Stay quiet with God.”

Dustin, you have heard me say more than a few times that our first duty as priests is to be men of prayer.

St. Charles said, “My brothers, you must realize that for us Churchmen nothing is more necessary than meditation. When you administer the sacraments, meditate on what you are doing. When you celebrate Mass, reflect on the sacrifice you are offering. When you pray the office, think about the words you are saying and the Lord to whom you are speaking. When you take care of our people, meditate on the Lord’s blood that has washed them clean. In this way, all that you do becomes a work of love.”

This is the way we can overcome the difficulties we face which, after all, are part of our ministry.

Dustin, in your Holy Thursday homily at St. John the Evangelist Church, you said, “In meditation, we find the strength to bring Christ to birth in ourselves and in others; so that our proclamation of Our Lord’s very real, very physical presence in this world not remain simply a proclamation of words, but a very real and very physical proclamation of love.”

The holy bishop of Milan, St. Charles, asked, “Are you in charge of a parish? If so, do not neglect the parish of your own soul, do not give yourself so completely that you have nothing left for yourself. Be mindful of your people without becoming forgetful of yourself.”

Pope Benedict XVI reminds us that our priestly spirituality is intrinsically eucharistic. He says, “The seeds of this spirituality are already found in the words spoken by the bishop during the ordination liturgy: ‘Receive the oblation of the holy people to be offered to God. Understand what you celebrate and conform your life to the mystery of the cross.’ ”

My brother, you have already promised to live your life in apostolic love, in celibate chastity. We are called to love the many. We offer a sacrificial love as a sign of our interior love for Christ and our special availability to serve God and our human family. Why? We need look no farther than the person of Christ who was celibate. The charism of celibacy is the mystery of God’s love at work in us and—as it was in Christ—it is part of that divine paradox that we must die in order to live (cf. Light in the Lord, Cardinal Basil Hume, p. 35).

Finally, Dustin, in a few minutes, as you lie prostrate on the floor during the litany, resolve that day by day in prayer you will rededicate your life in love. Your prostration is a sign of your dependence on Jesus. Recall that for his part, Jesus says, and will continue to say, “No longer do I call you a servant but friend” (Jn 15:15).

Pope Benedict says that is the meaning of the imposition of hands: I no longer call you servants but friends. The core of priesthood is being friends of Jesus, and being a friend of Jesus means being with him in prayer.

Cardinal Hume remarked, “Friend. That raises the whole thing to a different level, for promises made between friends do not come from compulsion or obligation.”

He also said, “The gap between what you are and what you know you should be will become greater. Do not worry. [Jesus] chose you. He knows what he is doing—so trust him. He wants you to be his friend—let him. He wants you from time to time to carry his cross—do so. Pray often, in good times and in bad: ‘Speak Lord, your servant is listening.’ He will answer you and whisper quietly to you in his own way: ‘Don’t worry—it is going to be all right. … I chose you” (p. 93).

Being a friend of Jesus means being with him in prayer. Brother, be that and everything will be OK. Please God, may it be so. †

Local site Links: