Impossible to Man's Powers, But Not To God's

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All Priest

In recalling the holiness of Saint Philip, it occurs to me that it was essentially this: he was all priest. He was always and everywhere a priest. His priesthood suffused his very being, making him incandescent with the fire of the Cross and of the altar. As we move toward the conclusion of the Year of the Priest, Saint Philip Neri makes his appearance to stimulate our generosity, and to show us what happens when a priest surrenders to the fire of Divine Love.

Spiritual Combat: The Seven Capital Sins

Have no illusions about priestly holiness. Like all men, priests are locked in a combat to the death with the seven capital sins: pride, covetousness, lust, anger, gluttony, envy, and sloth. Priests are, if anything, subject to more subtle and more violent temptations than anyone else because they are Satan’s preferred quarry. Is the propensity to any one particular sin worse than the propensity to another? I dare not speculate about secrets of conscience. God alone probes the mind and heart.

To God All Things Are Possible

Souls called in a particular way to offer themselves for the sanctification of the clergy should entertain no illusions about the seriousness of their apostolic mission. There were, there are, and in all likelihood, there will continue to be some prideful priests, covetous priests, lustful priests, angry priests, gluttonous priests, priests who are drunkards, priests who consumed by envy, and priests who are lazy. One might be tempted then to say with the disciples, “Why then, who can be saved?’ (Mk 10:26). Listen to Our Lord’s reply. Jesus spoke it, according to Saint Mark, with His eyes fastened on the disciples. “Such things are impossible to man’s powers, but not to God’s; to God, all things are possible” (Mk 10:27).

Spiritual Maternity

Read the appeal from Rome, asking women in all states of life to become spiritual mothers to priests, and calling for a worldwide movement of adoration in a spirit of reparation and supplication for the priesthood. It is not enough to read it once and file it away. Our Lord will hold those women who consent to spiritual motherhood accountable for the sins and for the sanctity of a multitude of priests. Does this shock you? It shouldn’t. Saint Paul says, “A man’s body is all one, though it has a number of different organs; and all this multitude of organs goes to make up one body; so it is with Christ. . . . If one part is suffering, all the rest suffer with it; if one part is treated with honour, all the rest find pleasure in it. And you are Christ’s body, organs of it depending upon each other” (1 Cor 12:12, 26-27). Again, the Apostle says in another place, “Bear the burden of one another’s failings; then you will be fulfilling the law of Christ” (Gal 6:2).

A Contagious Joy

Speaking to priests in Warsaw four years ago, Pope Benedict XVI said, “You have been chosen from among the people, appointed to act in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. Believe in the power of your priesthood!” Saint Philip Neri believed in the power of his priesthood, and from that belief flowed his outstanding characteristic: a contagious joy.

The Face of Christ

The loving gaze of Jesus is the origin, the present, and the future of every priestly vocation. Priestly devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus, to His Eucharistic Face, is indispensable and it is, I would say, up to you to obtain that grace for them. This is not my personal idea. You will find it clearly expressed in the 2008 Message for the Day of Prayer for Priests, which opens with these words: “Reverend and dear Brothers in the Priesthood,
on the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus let us fix the eyes of our minds and hearts with a constant loving gaze on Christ, the one Savior of our lives and of the world. Focusing on Christ means focusing on that Face which every human being, consciously or not, seeks as a satisfying response to his own insuppressible thirst for happiness. We have encountered this Face and on that day, at that moment, his Love so deeply wounded our hearts that we could no longer refrain from asking ceaselessly to be in his Presence.”

Adoration

Again, in his address to priests in Warsaw, the Holy Father enjoined them to practice Eucharistic Adoration as an antidote for the noise of the world, and to teach others to adore too. “In a world where there is so much noise, so much bewilderment, there is a need for silent adoration of Jesus concealed in the Host. Be assiduous in the prayer of adoration and teach it to the faithful. It is a source of comfort and light particularly to those who are suffering.”

Experts in Joy

Pope Benedict XVI teaches that, “the faithful expect only one thing from priests: that they be specialists in promoting the encounter between man and God. The priest is not asked to be an expert in economics, construction or politics. He is expected to be an expert in the spiritual life.” Saint Philip Neri was just that: an expert in the spiritual life and, precisely for that reason, he was an expert in joy.

Ineffable Joy

“You never saw Him but you learned to love Him,” says Saint Peter, “you may not see Him even now, but you believe in Him, and if you continue to believe in Him, how you will triumph! How ineffable your joy will be, and how sublime, when you reap the fruit of that faith of yours, the salvation of your souls” (1 P 1:8-9). May Saint Philip obtain for us today hearts open to the joy that no one can take from us and, with you, may he intercede for all priests that they, like him, may be experts in joy.


A Contagious Joy

Speaking to priests in Warsaw two years ago, Pope Benedict XVI said, “You have been chosen from among the people, appointed to act in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. Believe in the power of your priesthood!” Saint Philip Neri believed in the power of his priesthood, and from that belief flowed his outstanding characteristic: a contagious joy.

The Face of Christ

The loving gaze of Jesus is the origin, the present, and the future of every priestly vocation. Priestly devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus, to His Eucharistic Face, is indispensable and it is, I would say, up to you to obtain that grace for them. This is not my personal idea. You will find it clearly expressed in the Message for the Day of Prayer for Priests, which opens with these words: “Reverend and dear Brothers in the Priesthood,
on the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus let us fix the eyes of our minds and hearts with a constant loving gaze on Christ, the one Savior of our lives and of the world. Focusing on Christ means focusing on that Face which every human being, consciously or not, seeks as a satisfying response to his own insuppressible thirst for happiness. We have encountered this Face and on that day, at that moment, his Love so deeply wounded our hearts that we could no longer refrain from asking ceaselessly to be in his Presence.”

Adoration

Again, in his address to priests in Warsaw, the Holy Father enjoined them to practice Eucharistic Adoration as an antidote for the noise of the world, and to teach others to adore too. “In a world where there is so much noise, so much bewilderment, there is a need for silent adoration of Jesus concealed in the Host. Be assiduous in the prayer of adoration and teach it to the faithful. It is a source of comfort and light particularly to those who are suffering.”

Experts in Joy

Pope Benedict XVI teaches that, “the faithful expect only one thing from priests: that they be specialists in promoting the encounter between man and God. The priest is not asked to be an expert in economics, construction or politics. He is expected to be an expert in the spiritual life.” Saint Philip Neri was just that: an expert in the spiritual life and, precisely for that reason, he was an expert in joy.

Ineffable Joy

“You never saw Him but you learned to love Him,” says Saint Peter in today’s First Reading, “you may not see Him even now, but you believe in Him, and if you continue to believe in Him, how you will triumph! How ineffable your joy will be, and how sublime, when you reap the fruit of that faith of yours, the salvation of your souls” (1 P 1:8-9). May Saint Philip obtain for us today hearts open to the joy that no one can take from us and, with you, may he intercede for all priests that they, like him, may be experts in joy.

4 Comments

Dear Fr. Mark,

This is so beautiful. At its conclusion I wanted to jump to my feet and cry out Alleluia! So many of your posts would make wonderful tracts and gathered together as a book, they would be a treasure.

Praying for you all,
Vincent

I entirely agree with Vincent! Thank you, Father!

Thank you Father Mark. Great words of encouragement. "To God, all things are possible."
In you Lord, I put my trust.

Yes, I also agree with Vincent. :)

Fr. Mark, if it is not too much to ask, I have a small request for you. You craft your words and prayers so beautifully, I was wondering if you could write and post here for us a novena to St. Francis of Assisi and Bl. Kateri Tekakwitha, asking for their intercession with regards to the disastrous oil spill in the gulf right now.

My heart breaks as I think of the great suffering and death of the innocent animals, many of which are endangered, and the unimaginable damage done to the already delicate ecosystems of the ocean and marshes, etc.

If you could write a novena for their intercession for the sakes of the animals, that their suffering be minimal, the environmental damage be minimal, that the oil will stop gushing out as soon as possible, that BP and all others who are guilty will receive justice, and that those men who died be received into Heaven, and their families and friends comforted, and that those injured find healing.

I know that with regards to the damage done, I asking for a miracle. But I do not know what else to ask for. Surely the Father, our Creator, weeps to see what we have done to his creatures. Our Lady, too. There are so many things to pray for in our world these days, so much suffering. But this has been weighing on my heart of late.

Thank you, Fr. Mark, and God bless you.

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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.

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