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My Bishop

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This article by Jim Graves appeared in The National Catholic Register, 10/28/2011.

Bishop Edward Slattery, 71, was born and raised in Chicago. He attended the archdiocese's Mundelein Seminary and was ordained a priest in 1966. He served in Chicago parishes and was active with the Catholic Church Extension Society, which funds the American home missions.

In 1994, he was ordained a bishop by Pope John Paul II and installed as the third bishop of the Diocese of Tulsa, Okla. He is noted for his orthodoxy and piety and has publicly advocated a reform of the liturgy. As the Church prepares for the official promulgation of the new translation of the liturgy on the First Sunday in Advent, Nov. 27, he shared his thoughts on the liturgy, the priesthood and religious life, and maintaining a healthy spirituality.

You've made public statements about problems with the liturgy. What changes would you like to see?

I would like to see the liturgy become what Vatican II intended it to be. That's not something that can happen overnight. The bishops who were the fathers of the council from the United States came home and made changes too quickly. They shouldn't have viewed the old liturgy, what we call the Tridentine Mass or Missal of Pope John XXIII, as something that needed to be fixed. Nothing was broken. There was an attitude that we had to implement Vatican II in a way that radically affects the liturgy.

What we lost in a short period of time was continuity. The new liturgy should be clearly identifiable as the liturgy of the pre-Vatican II Church. Changes, like turning the altar around, were too sudden and too radical. There is nothing in the Vatican II documents that justifies such changes. We've always had Mass facing the people as well as Mass ad orientem ["to the east," with priest and people facing the same direction]. However, Mass ad orientem was the norm. These changes did not come from Vatican II.

Also, it was not a wise decision to do away with Latin in the Mass. How that happened, I don't know; but the fathers of the Council never intended us to drop Latin. They wanted us to hold on to it and, at the same time, to make room for the vernacular, primarily so that the people could understand the Scriptures.

You yourself have begun celebrating Mass ad orientem.

Yes, in our cathedral and a few parishes where the priests ask me to. Most of the time, I say Mass facing the people when I travel around the diocese or when I have a large number of priests concelebrating, because it works better that way.

A few priests have followed my example and celebrate ad orientem as well. I have not requested they change. I prefer to lead by example and let the priests think about it, pray about it, study it, and then look at their churches and see if it's feasible to do.

And it's positive when people are thinking about and talking about the liturgy.

When people make the liturgy part of their conversation, it is a good thing. As priests and laypeople discuss the liturgy, they'll see how important it is and how it is a work of God and not our own.

But we must approach the liturgy on bended knee with tremendous humility, recognizing that it doesn't belong to us. It belongs to God. It is a gift. We worship God not by creating our own liturgies, but by receiving the liturgy as it comes to us from the Church. The liturgy should be formed and shaped by the Church itself to help people pray better. And we all pray better when we are disposed to receive what God has offered, rather than creating something of our own.

Are you excited about the promulgation of the new translation of the Roman Missal?

I'm looking forward to it. I've put a lot of work into it this past year: getting the people of the diocese ready. We've hosted a number of large gatherings to explain the new translation, and those in attendance were attentive and grateful. I think it is going to be well received by our priests and the people.

Moreover, the announcement of the new translation has sparked an opportunity to renew our commitment to an active participation in the liturgy. We should come to the liturgy with an interior disposition that it is something which we can only receive. It is a gift from God. And, as part of our reception of that gift, we must listen with a loving heart to what God has to tell us.

In 2010, to celebrate the fifth anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI's election, you celebrated a traditional Latin Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. Why did you celebrate this Mass, and how did it go?

I did it because I didn't want a lot of people to be disappointed. Archbishop [Donald] Wuerl [of Washington], now Cardinal Wuerl, called me to say they could not find a bishop to celebrate the Mass because the bishop who was originally scheduled withdrew. It was only a few days before the event, and they needed a replacement. Since bishops' schedules are so tight, even Archbishop Wuerl could not do it on such short notice. So, I was thrilled to have the opportunity.

I was impressed by the large crowd, but found it easy to pray, despite all the people. There was a sense of prayer, a silence and an involvement that made it easy for all of us to pray together.

You preached on suffering that day, and your homily was well received.

We were there to thank God for the Holy Father's five years of service as the Successor of Peter. I realized that during those five years he has suffered enormously, and the Church has been the target of much persecution. It makes you more conscious of suffering itself. Suffering has always been with us; it's something we all have to endure.

I wanted to remind the congregation that our sufferings need not be wasted; suffering in union with Christ is redemptive. However, if we suffer with resentment or with a sense of merely feeling the pain of suffering, it is wasted.

I thought that would be a good theme. I didn't want to talk about the divisions that exist between conservatives and liberals or those who attend the Tridentine Mass and the rest of the Catholic world.

Suffering is universal. Everyone suffers as a result of the sin of Adam and Eve and our own sins. But what Christ, in his great love for us, has done is taken that which is our great enemy, suffering and death, and put it at our service. Suffering and death can be the cause of our redemption.

You obviously have quite a love for the priesthood. What first made you want to be a priest?

I can't trace it to any one thing. My mother and father were good Catholics, and the neighborhood in which I lived had many good Catholics, so I grew up in a positive environment.

I do recall one instance, however, when I was very young. I woke up in the middle of the night and made my first adult prayer. By this, I mean I was conscious of God's presence and moved by it. I was filled by a profound and unexplainable gratitude for his presence and love.
From that time I changed. I became interested in things of the Church: Mass, sacraments, religion classes, priests and nuns. Anything that was religious was attractive to me from that time on.

I announced to my parents when I was in the fifth or sixth grade that I would like to go to Quigley [Preparatory Seminary] and become a priest. They were happy, but I was a little disappointed that they were not as excited about it as I was. They were in favor of it, but I thought they would be thrilled. Looking back on it, I think they were thinking, Oh, this is just a child's dream. But I was serious. My father went to Quigley himself, and my brother too, but they both left and got married.

Your ordination as a bishop by Pope John Paul must have left you with many special memories.

It was an unforgettable experience. To this day, I feel grateful and unworthy.

I had met Pope John Paul II several times before. Because I was president of the Extension Society, I traveled frequently and came to places where he was visiting. I remember meeting him in Arizona and Alaska and in Guam, where I met him the first time.

Like everyone else, I was in awe in his presence. I felt privileged that I could shake hands with him and see him face to face.

How has your Diocese of Tulsa changed since you first arrived nearly 18 years ago?

We've had a large influx of Hispanic Catholics, most of whom have come since I arrived. The diocese officially has 60,000 Catholics, but twice as many if you include Hispanics. Often, they won't register in our parishes, however. Because of our immigration laws, they are hesitant to sign their name on anything.

We've also gone from having one of the older clergy populations in the country to one of the youngest. In the last 18 years, most of our priests who were on active duty have died or retired. I've ordained about 30 since I've arrived, and we have about 50 active priests total. Our average age now is about 45 or 46.

We usually ordain about two priests a year. They serve a Catholic population in this state that is a minority, but a strong and faithful minority.

You've expressed your concern about the decline of religious communities in the past 40 years. What do you think caused it?

Sometimes Vatican II is blamed for it, but I think it has to do with a change in our culture and the West. We have become secular, self-reliant and independent.

In the 1960s, we had the war in Vietnam, the civil-rights movement and a society that was increasingly disillusioned with people in authority. Protests arose emphasizing that people were being denied their rights -- and, sometimes, they were -- and the themes of responsibility, obedience, loyalty and fidelity were forgotten. We lost an important balance we needed.

Also, as technology improves, people become more and more comfortable and expect to be comfortable. We take for granted the gifts God has given us and think we're entitled to them.

These prevailing attitudes then affect all of us, whether we're a religious, bishop, priest, married or single person. It's just a matter of time before some religious say, "I'm going to change the way I'm living and re-interpret the meaning of poverty, chastity and obedience."

But for us to have a conversion of heart, we need examples. We need religious. We need reformation of the religious and consecrated life because the Catholic Church is searching for men and women who can lead us by example. That is what has been lacking in the past 40 years, as many religious left the religious life or changed to a lifestyle which is, unfortunately, even more comfortable than the average person. Sometimes I think some religious have lost their identity.

The charisms of poverty, chastity and obedience are something that all of us need to embrace, but the religious are the ones who lead us in this. They help us to stay focused on Christ in another world, another kingdom, and not the kingdom of this world.

How should we respond?

We should start with prayer. That's where everything starts. We don't start by talking about ourselves or even examining our consciences. We start by prayer, on our knees. We come to the Lord and ask him to let us see ourselves as he sees us. He's the only one who can. God knows each one of us perfectly, and if we're seeking self-knowledge, we must go to him.

Once we do that, we receive his help and a certain joy because we open our hearts to being honest. We allow ourselves to see and accept what is true about ourselves and about others in light of the Gospel. But without prayer, that can't happen.

Once we become men and women of prayer, everything else will fall into place. But we have to put in the time. You have to schedule prayer. You have to make sure that you pray every day, and as often as you can. Become a man or woman of prayer. When we do this, we will begin to discover ourselves, perhaps for the first time.

You also frequently recommend Eucharistic adoration.

The Eucharist is the center of our lives. The reason for Eucharistic adoration is so that we might find ourselves as better participants when we do celebrate the Mass. Everything centers around our Lord in the Eucharist. Once we begin to see this and experience this, we'll find ourselves going to Mass more often.

Are there other spiritual practices you recommend?

We have to return to the Rosary. Pope John Paul II said that when we pray the Rosary, we see the life of Christ through the eyes of his mother, Mary. And there's no better way to look at Christ than through the eyes of Mary. The Rosary is a tried and true means of doing that. I encourage every Catholic to pray the Rosary every day. Praying the Rosary takes us through the major mysteries of our faith, especially now since John Paul has given us the five Luminous Mysteries.

I also advise a return to confession. When I say this, I don't mean to do this in some sort of laborious, burdensome way, but rather as a form of prayer. Pray before you examine your conscience, and allow the Lord to tell you what your sins are. He loves you, and he will tell you a lot about yourself. He will help you see yourself in contrast with his infinite love for you. You will begin to see the gap between his love for you and your love for Him. And when you experience that gap, it will help you become more generous and more apt to recognize and admit your sins in confession.

Who are your heroes in the spiritual life?

St. Thérèse of Lisieux, the Little Flower. I have a picture of her in my chapel, and I talk to her every day. Since becoming a bishop, she has become my hero. She has such enormous humility, and her love for Christ is so genuine.

What impresses me most about her is that she found great peace in her life because she wanted the approval of Jesus alone for anything she thought or did. She never wanted anyone else's approval, only his. Now, that's really love. We often seek approval and praise from others, whether it be from our parents, co-workers or friends.

But she did not. All she wanted was that approval from Christ himself, so she was always trying to please him. That's all that mattered to her; that simplified her life and made her a saint.

Register correspondent Jim Graves writes from Newport Beach, California.

Happy Namesday, Your Excellency!

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Our Bishop's Namesday

Today, the feast of Saint Edward the Confessor, is the namesday of His Excellency, The Most Reverend Edward J. Slattery, Bishop of Tulsa. And so, we pray for him, using the traditional Roman supplication for a bishop, sometimes sung at Benediction of the Most Blessed Sacrament. The chant melody for it may be found in the Liber Usualis or in any number of collections of chants for Benediction.


Oremus pro Antistite nostro Eduardo.
R. Stet et pascat in fortitudine tua, Domine, in sublimitate nominis tui.

Let us pray for our Bishop Edward.
R. May he stand and shepherd in Thy strength, O Lord, in the sublimity of Thy name

V. Salvum fac servum tuum.
R. Deus meus sperantem in te.

V. Save thy servant.
R. Who hopeth in Thee, O my God.

Oremus.

Deus, omnium fidelium pastor et rector,
famulum tuum Eduardum, quem pastorem Ecclesiae Tulsensis praesse voluisti,
propitus respice:
da ei, quaesumus, verbo et exemplo, quibus preest proficere;
ut ad vitam una cum grege sibi credito perveniat sempiternam.
Per Christum Dominum nostrum.
R. Amen.

Let us pray.

O God, Shepherd and Ruler of all Thy faithful people,
look mercifully upon Thy servant Edward,
whom Thou hast chosen as shepherd to preside over Thy Church in Tulsa;
grant him, we beseech Thee, that by his word and example,
he may edify those over whom he hath charge,
so that together with the flock committed to him,
he may he attain everlasting life.
Through Christ our Lord.
R. Amen.

Vespers Homily on Psalm 111

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Homily at Vespers

Sunday, 31 January 2010
Septuagesima Sunday
Cathedral of the Holy Family
Tulsa, Oklahoma

Preaching on the Psalms

The last time I had the privilege of preaching at these Sunday Vespers, I proposed that we meditate on Psalm 109, the glorious psalm of Our Lord's divinity, of His kingship, and of His priesthood, the psalm that the Church places on our lips and in our hearts every Sunday evening, and on every great festival of the year. This evening, I propose that we consider together the second psalm of Vespers: Psalm 111.

A Beatitude Expanded

Psalm 111 is a song about blessedness. It is, in its own way, a beatitude expanded. Like Psalm 1 at the head of the Psalter, Psalm 111 begins with the pregnant phrase: Beatus vir . . . Blessed is the man. Who, we must ask, is the man in question? This Man is none other than the One who called Himself "the Son of Man" (Jn 8:28). The Man in question is a true Man, born of the Virgin's womb, and nailed in His flesh to the tree of the Cross. He is also true God, eternally begotten of the Father, the Son in whom the Father takes delight, the Son to whom the Father said in this evening's first psalm, "Sit Thou on My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool" (Ps 109:1).

Christ in the Psalms

Before trying to understand Psalm 111 as a program for moral integrity, as a guide to godly living, we are to see it, I would suggest, as a portrait, an icon, of Our Lord Jesus Christ. The entire Psalter is about Christ, and this from the first page to the last. One who scrutinizes the psalms with the eyes of faith begins to see between the lines. His gaze goes through the text to the mysterious presence that illuminates it and gives it life from within. The prayer of the psalms becomes a kind of spiritual communion with Jesus, the Beloved Son, with Jesus, the Eternal Priest, who, in the glory of heaven, engages in a ceaseless exchange with His Father. The Psalter is a sacrament crafted of human language that makes us partakers of a divine conversation. The Psalter opens our hearts to all that rises from the Heart of Jesus in the presence of His Father. The Psalter is a vessel of living water. One who prays the psalms drinks deeply of the Holy Spirit.

It is a tremendous revelation when one wakes up one fine day and realizes that the psalms are all about Christ, that the Psalter is a kind of tabernacle containing the Hidden Manna, and just waiting to be opened so that, from it, we might be fed with the living bread of the Word.

Blessed is the man who fears the Lord,
who greatly delights in His commands (Ps 111:1).

The fear of the Lord is the reverence of the Son who prays facing His Father. Thus do we read in the Letter to the Hebrews that, "in the days of His flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears, to Him who was able to save Him from death, and He was heard for His godly fear" (Heb 5:7). The Church, by binding her bishops and priests and deacons to the daily prayer of the psalms, enrolls them in a school of reverence. By praying through Christ, with Christ, and in Christ, one enters into the dispositions of His Heart, one begins to grasp something of the reverence that imbued His whole being so often as He pronounced the name "Father."

" . . . Who greatly delights in His commands" (Ps 111:1).

The Son greatly delights in the commands of the Father. This is the whole message of the Fourth Gospel. "My food," says Jesus, "is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to accomplish His work" (Jn 4:34). "For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me" (Jn 6:38). "I do as the Father has commanded Me, so that the world may know that I love the Father" (Jn 14:31). The Psalter is not only a school of reverence; it is a school of obedience. In it we learn not the mercenary obedience of the hired-hand, no the servile obedience of the slave, but rather the loving obedience of the Son who says, "He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I do always what is pleasing to Him" (Jn 8:29).

His descendents will be mighty in the land;
the generation of the upright will be blessed.
Wealth and riches are in his house;
and his righteousness endures forever (Ps 111:2-3).

Who, you may ask, are the descendents of Christ? Saint John explains: "But to all who received Him, who believed in His name, He gave the power to become children of God; who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" (Jn 1:12-13). Christ is the New Adam, "full of grace and truth," "and from His fullness have we all received, grace upon grace" (Jn 1:16).

David prophesies concerning the wealth and riches that are in His house, and what are these if not what Saint Paul reveals when he says, "To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all men see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things" (Eph 3:8-9). These "unsearchable" riches are "the inheritance of the saints in light" (Col 1:12), "the wealth and riches" (Ps 111:2) that are stored up for us in, and dispensed to us from, the household of Christ that is the Church.

Light rises in the darkness for the upright;
the Lord is gracious, and merciful, and righteous (Ps 111:4).

Today, in the Church's traditional calendar is Septuagesima Sunday. Pope Saint Gregory the Great, inspired and spurred by the edifying example of the Greeks living in Rome, who kept a pre-Lenten season, decided that the Latins should do no less. And so, he instituted a three week preparation for Lent, roughly corresponding to the Sundays that mark the seventieth, sixtieth, and fiftieth days before Easter. The season of Septuagesima is one of those precious elements of our Catholic tradition that belong to the period of the undivided Church, to the first thousand years of Christianity. It is one of the liturgical practices that we hold in common with the Orthodox Churches of the East and, as such, merits high consideration and dutiful observance. One of the aims of Pope Benedict XVI is to invite the whole Church of the Latin Rite to draw freely from her own liturgical inheritance in such a way as to close the false gap in continuity that some wrongly believe was opened by the Second Vatican Council.

All of that is a round about way of saying that the "light rising in the darkness" of Psalm 111 is the Lumen Christi of the Paschal Vigil. In seventy days time, this cathedral will be all in darkness and as a flickering flame pierces the shadows of the night, the deacon's voice will announce the fulfillment of what this evening's second psalm prophesies: "Light rises in the darkness for the upright; the Lord is gracious, merciful, and righteous" (Ps 111:4).

It is well with the man who deals generously and lends,
who conducts his affairs with justice;
For the righteous will never be moved;
he will be remembered forever (Ps 111:5-6)

The next two verses of Psalm 111 point to the generosity of Christ. Who gives with open hand to the poor, if not Our Lord Jesus Christ? And what does He give?
His own Body and Blood. "This is my Body which is for you. . . . This cup is the new covenant in My Blood. Do this as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me" (1 Cor 11:24-25). The psalm says that "the just man shall be in everlasting remembrance" (Ps 111:6), and the Apostle tells us that, "as often as you eat this Bread and drink the Cup you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes" (1 Cor 11:26).

He is not afraid of evil tidings;
his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD.
His heart is steady, he will not be afraid,
until he sees his desire on his adversaries (Ps 111:7-8).

The final portion of Psalm 111 reveals to us the brave and generous Heart of Christ. Anointed by the Holy Spirit, Our Lord went into His Passion as a fearless warrior into battle. The anguish of Gethsemani was not a prelude to the battle; it was, I would venture to say, its cruelest hour. It was before going across the Kedron Valley to the Garden of Olives that Jesus said, "I do as the Father has commanded Me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go hence" (Jn 14:31). Thus did "death and life contend in the combat stupendous." Thus did "the Prince of Life reign immortal," "conquering by death by death."

He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor;
his righteousness endures for ever;
his horn is exalted in honor (Ps 111:9).

This verse is nothing less than a prophecy of the Resurrection and Ascension of the Lord. "Therefore it is said, 'When He ascended on high, He led a host of captives, and He gave gifts to men'" (Eph 4:8). "Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow in heaven, on earth, and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Phil 2:9-11).

The wicked man sees it and is angry;
he gnashes his teeth and melts away;
the desire of the wicked man comes to nought (Ps 111:10).

The remainder of the psalm deals not with The Blessed Man, but with The Wicked Man, the one about whom Jesus says, "He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him" (Jn 8:44). The very last line of Psalm 111 is wondrously comforting: "the desire of the wicked man comes to nought" (Ps 111:10).

Psalm 111 gives us, then, reason to rejoice in hope as we make our way toward the Light that rises in the darkness. We can enter this pre-Lenten season, and Lent itself, fully confident in the prayer, and in the strength, and mercy, and triumph of the Blessed One in whom we are all blessed: Our Lord Jesus Christ to whom be all glory and praise now and always and unto the ages of ages.


Vespers at Holy Family Cathedral

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Twenty-Sixth Sunday of the Year B
27 September 2009
Holy Family Cathedral
Tulsa, Oklahoma

Pope Benedict in Czech Republic

This weekend, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI is in the Czech Republic. He is visiting a nation wounded by 40 years of Communism, where two out of three individuals say they believe in nothing, and where the encroaching forces of secularism are allied to erase even the memory of a Christian culture from the hearts of rising generations. For all of that, our Holy Father is not intimidated.

The Little Jesus

Yesterday morning he accomplished an amazing gesture -- a prophetic one. The Supreme Pontiff and, quite apart from that, one of the greatest theologians of modern times, went in pilgrimage to the Little Jesus, to the Infant Jesus of Prague. Bareheaded, and with a look of indescribable tenderness and affection, the Pope approached the little statue known and loved around the world and left a golden crown at the feet of the Infant Jesus, as a token of his devotion.

Vespers and Benediction

What, you may ask, has this to do with Vespers of this Twenty-Sixth Sunday of the Year? In a certain sense, everything. Catholic tradition has, for centuries now, coupled the celebration of Sunday Vespers with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. Vespers, being a Liturgy of the Word, recalls the Liturgy of the Word at this morning's Mass. Mother Church frames the Magnificat with a fragment of the Gospel proclaimed at Mass. A grace remembered is a grace renewed. At Vespers, the Holy Spirit quickens the very Word we heard at Mass, and in that mystical quickening, we experience its power all over again.

Word to Sacrament

Mother Church's liturgy is all of a piece. The Magnificat Antiphon, a mere fragment of this morning's Gospel, brings back the divine energy that compelled us at Holy Mass to go from the ambo to the altar.

The same thing happens at Vespers: the Word remembered, repeated, and prayed, drives us to the altar, just as Our Lord's explanation of the Scriptures to the disciples on the road to Emmaus compelled them to say, "Stay with us, Lord, for it is towards evening, and the day is now far spent." (Lk 24:29).

Every time we hear the Word, receiving it with hearts that are childlike and humble, it causes us to say over and over again, "Stay with us, Lord." At Holy Mass, He answers that prayer of ours by giving us bread changed into His Body and wine mixed with water changed into His Blood. At Benediction, that same adorable Mystery is withdrawn from the tabernacle and exposed to our gaze so that we, by looking, and adoring, and bowing low might be blessed, and so experience again, at the close of Sunday, the miracle of His Real Presence. The movement, at Holy Mass as at Vespers, is always from Word to Sacramental Presence.

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Cathedral of the Holy Family
Tulsa, Oklahoma
August 2, 3, 4 at 6:30 in the evening


Here, dear Fathers and other readers, is the full text of the booklet being prepared for the Solemn Diocesan Triduum in honor of Saint John Mary Vianney for the Diocese of Tulsa's observance of the Year of the Priest. Do feel free to use it as it is or to adapt it for your own needs.

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Here are the prayers that I use to open and close Eucharistic adoration in the Cenacle of the Diocese of Tulsa:

At the beginning of the hour of adoration:

Lord Jesus Christ, Priest and Victim,
behold, I kneel before Thy Eucharistic Face
on behalf of all Thy priests:
(Fathers N. and N.)
and especially those priests of Thine,
who at this moment are most in need
of Thy grace.
For them and in their place,
allow me to remain,
adoring and full of confidence,
close to Thy Open Heart
hidden in this, the Sacrament of Thy Love.

Through the Sorrowful and Immaculate
Heart of Mary,
our Advocate and the Mediatrix of All Graces,
pour forth upon all the priests of Thy Church
that torrent of mercy that ever flows
from Thy pierced side:
to purify and heal them,
to refresh and sanctify them,
and, at the hour of their death,
to make them worthy of joining Thee
before the Father in the heavenly sanctuary
beyond the veil (Hb 6:19)
where Thou art always living
to make intercession
for us (Hb 7:25). Amen.

At the end of adoration, three times:

Eucharistic Face of Jesus, sanctify Thy priests!

A Note on the Expression "Eucharistic Face of Jesus"


In his Encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia, Pope John Paul II drew the eyes of the Church to the Face of Christ in the sacrament of the Eucharist. He coined a new phrase, one not encountered before in his writings or in the teachings of his predecessors, "the Eucharistic Face of Christ." Thus did Pope John Paul II share with the Church his own experience of seeking, finding, and adoring the Face of Christ in the Eucharist.

To contemplate the face of Christ, and to contemplate it with Mary, is the "programme" which I have set before the Church at the dawn of the third millennium, summoning her to put out into the deep on the sea of history with the enthusiasm of the new evangelization. To contemplate Christ involves being able to recognize him wherever he manifests himself, in his many forms of presence, but above all in the living sacrament of his Body and Blood. The Church draws her life from Christ in the Eucharist; by Him she is fed and by Him she is enlightened. The Eucharist is both a mystery of faith and a "mystery of light." Whenever the Church celebrates the Eucharist, the faithful can in some way relive the experience of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus: "their eyes were opened and they recognized him" (Lk 24:31). . . . I cannot let this Holy Thursday 2003 pass without halting before the "Eucharistic face" of Christ and pointing out with new force to the Church the centrality of the Eucharist.

The experience of the disciples on the road to Emmaus culminated in their eyes being opened to see the Eucharistic Face of Christ. "When He was at table with them, He took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognized Him; and he vanished out of their sight" (Lk 24:30-31). Christ vanished from the sight of the disciples, leaving in their hearts a mysterious burning (cf. Lk 24:32), and the broken Bread that at once conceals and reveals His Eucharistic Face. In the Eucharist the Face of Christ is turned toward us. The Eucharistic Face of Christ waits to meet the gaze of our faith, waits to be sought and recognized, adored and implored. "We see now through a glass in a dark manner; but then face to face. Now I know in part; but then I shall know even as I am known" (1 Cor 13:12). Sanctissima Facies Iesu, sub sacramento abscondita, respice in nos et miserere nostri.

The Face of Christ shines through the veil of the Sacred Species to illumine those who seek it there. The radiance of the Eucharistic Face of Jesus heals and repairs the disfiguration of sin; it restores beauty to the face of the soul and likeness to the image of God obscured by sin. It is in the Most Holy Eucharist that the prayer of the psalmist is wonderfully fulfilled: "The light of Thy face, O Lord, is signed upon us: Thou hast given gladness in my heart" (Ps 4:7). Again, it is the psalmist who says, "Look to Him and be radiant, and your faces shall not be put to shame" (Ps 33:6). The adorer who seeks the Eucharistic Face will experience that in its light there is the healing of brokenness and the beginning of transfiguration. "And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit" (2 Cor 3:18).

The Eucharistic Face of Jesus is veiled beneath the humble species of bread lest we be blinded by its glory. "His face," says Saint John, "was like the sun shining in full strength" (Rev 1:16). The rays of that Sun reach us nonetheless through the appearance of bread that conceals it; its healing effects are not in any way diminished, nor is the splendour of its glory. "We look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen" (2 Cor 4:18). "For it is the God who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the Eucharistic face of Christ" (cf. 2 Cor 4:6).

The sentiments of every human heart find expression on the face even before they are communicated in words. So too are the secrets of the Sacred Heart revealed on the Face of the Word made Flesh and communicated to those who seek that Face in the mystery of the Eucharist. One who seeks the Face of Christ will be led surely, inexorably, to the inexhaustible riches of His Heart.

The Face of Christ is "the brightness of the Father's glory and the figure of his substance" (cf. Heb 1:3). To Philip wanting to see the Father, Jesus replied, "Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know me, Philip? He who has seen me has seen the Father; how can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father in me?" (Jn 14:9-10). The Face of Christ, "full of grace and truth" (Jn 1:14), reveals the Father. Those who seek the Eucharistic Face of Jesus can in truth say with Saint John, "We have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father" (Jn 1:14), and again, "No one has ever seen God; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has made Him known" (Jn 1:18).

He who is from all eternity "in the bosom of the Father" (Jn 1:18) is also, "in these last days" (Heb 1:2), sacramentally present in the heart of the Church, abiding there as "the living Bread which came down from heaven" (Jn 6:51). It is in adoring Him there that we become "the generation of those who seek Him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob" (Ps 23:6).

Spiritual Mothers of Priests

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In Union Our Lady's Yes

On the evening of March 24th, vigil of the Annunciation of the Lord, thirty-three women of the Diocese of Tulsa, having completed their initial formation as Spiritual Mothers of Priests, made their oblation during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass offered by His Excellency, Bishop Edward J. Slattery in Holy Family Cathedral. An exhortation by Bishop Slattery followed the singing of the Gospel of the Annunciation. His Excellency recalled the maternal solicitude for priests exemplified by Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face, Blessed Marie de Jésus Deluil-Martiny, the Servant of God Louise-Marguerite Claret de la Touche, and the Venerable Maria Concepción Cabrera. Then, he called the women to stand before the altar, just outside the sanctuary, where together they said:

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Holy Father (Jn 17:11), behold, I come to do Your will (Heb 10:9), placing myself, with all that I am, and all that I do, in the wounded hands of Your Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, our Eternal Priest and immaculate Victim.

I entreat Him to unite my offering
to the Holy Sacrifice that is about to be renewed
upon the altar of this our Cathedral Church
for the sake of all thy priests,
and in particular for the priest-son
who will be entrusted to me.

Holy Father,
keep them from the Evil One (Jn 17:15)
and sanctify them in the truth (Jn 17:17)
that the love with which You have loved Your Only-Begotten Son
may be in them
and that Your Son Himself may be in them (Jn 17:26).

Bind them by a most tender love
to the Virgin Mary, Mother of all priests,
that, by her intercession, they may be
overshadowed by the power of the Holy Spirit (Lk 1:35)
in every act of the Sacred Ministry.
Thus, may their priesthood,
supported by my humble oblation,
reveal the Face of Jesus and His Most Sacred Heart
for Your glory
and for the joy of the whole Church.
Amen.

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The Blessed Medal

Bishop Slattery presented each woman with a blessed medal depicting a priest vested for Mass, helped by a woman -- Mother Church, Our Lady, a Spiritual Mother -- to raise a chalice made ready for to receive the Blood and the Water flowing from Our Lord's pierced side.

The medal bears, in Latin, the inscription of a text taken from the Rite of Ordination to the Priesthood, and addressed to the new priest: "Receive the power to offer sacrifice unto God."

Through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, may you wear this medal as the outward sign of your inner likeness to her maternal Heart, which is ever full of mercy and solicitude for her Son's priests.

A Priest Son for Each Mother

Then, His Excellency handed to each Spiritual Mother an envelope containing a profile of the priest entrusted to her, indicating some of his special challenges and needs. The name of the priest was not given to his Spiritual Mother, nor will he know her name. The mission of the Spiritual Mother is essentially hidden and silent.

Take as well the burdens of the priest whom you are adopting as your son; support him with your prayers, refresh him with the joy of your charity, and do penance for his sins and failings.

The formation of this first group of Spiritual Mothers will continue on a permanent basis, and other groups of women will also be formed for this precious and efficacious way of helping priests to grow in holiness.

Singing Priests

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Singing Priests

Yesterday, here at the Cenacle, we held the first meeting of the Diocesan Priests' Schola Cantorum, a group of nine priests who have decided to come together weekly to study the chants of the Graduale Romanum, and to sing them at various liturgical celebrations of the Diocese of Tulsa. We will sing for the first time in Holy Family Cathedral at the Mass of Chrism during Holy Week.

Our first session began with a presentation of certain characteristics of the Lenten Propers in the Graduale Romanum, followed by some simple vocalizations (warm-up exercises). We worked on two pieces; the Introit, Dilexisti, and the hymn, O Redemptor. Given that it was the very first time the group of us had sung together, the effect was not at all displeasing. A suitably Lenten luncheon followed.

An Indispensable Element of the Roman Rite

One of things that emerged in our discussion is the spiritual value of the Propers of the Mass. (The Propers, by the way, are a constitutive element of the Mass of the Roman Rite. A Mass without them is truncated, deformed, and theologically impoverished. To replace the Propers with "something else" is, effectively, to dismantle the spiritual architecture of the Roman Rite.

As I sang through the Gradual of this morning's Mass, I was once again seized by an inner awareness of the "sacramental" potential of the Chant. Nothing conveys the Word of God as efficaciously as the Chant of the Church:

Cast the burden of thy cares upon the Lord, and He will sustain thee.
V. Still I will call upon the Lord; He will not be deaf to my appeal when many take part against me. (Psalm 54: 23. V. 17a, 18b, 19a)

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Our diocesan webpage published a news article about the evening of recollection I gave in the Cathedral of the Holy Family in Tulsa on the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. In the photo, Sheila Michie, at center, joins in praying the Rosary with other women who are discerning whether to become spiritual mothers to the priests of the Diocese of Tulsa

10/10/2008 - EOC Staff Nearly three dozen women of all ages will spend the next three months discerning whether God might be calling them to the vocation of spiritual motherhood to the priests of the Diocese of Tulsa. If they believe He has given them this vocation, they will spend the month of January in spiritual formation, deepening their prayer lives in preparation for their blessing by Bishop Edward J. Slattery on Sunday, Feb. 1.

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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