Priesthood: June 2008 Archives

corpus_christi_2003.jpeg

I am happy to share with the readers of Vultus Christi, the remarkable message that His Excellency, Bishop Edward J. Slattery of the Diocese of Tulsa published on June 22, 2008 in his diocesan newspaper, Eastern Oklahoma Catholic.

A Request Addressed to the Bishops of the World

Since the Vatican asked every bishop in the world to consider this request, you can imagine the importance it has in the mind of His Holiness. Such a world-wide effort is not easily achieved and would only be attempted for the most important of reasons!

Recovery of a Eucharistic Consciousness

The pope's request, delivered through the Congregation of the Clergy, has three interconnected aspects; but when considered as a single whole, these three aspects have a single end or purpose - the recovery of a Eucharistic consciousness in the Church.

Turning Toward the Eucharist

Pope John Paul II called this consciousness of the Eucharist our "Eucharistic imagination," and I have seen the process of recovering it referred to as a "Eucharistic
conversion of life." In spiritual theology, when we speak of a conversion of life, we generally mean a daily effort to turn toward the Lord, that is, a conscious effort made every day to orient our lives to fulfilling God's will, so that little by little, by placing God's love at the center of our lives, our senses, minds and hearts, our hands and our labor, our family life and the love which illuminates it, can all slowly begin to reflect that Divine Love.

A Eucharistic conversion of life would be much the same. It would entail a daily effort to turn toward our Eucharistic Lord, a conscious effort to place the Eucharist at the center of our lives so that little by little everything we do and think and say will reflect the sacrificial love of Jesus which we receive in Communion. Only in this way will we be able to "live and move and have our very being" in Christ's Eucharistic Heart. (cf. Acts
17:28)

Why Adoration?

I think that there may be some people for whom Adoration may be considered a salutary devotion, but still on the periphery of Church life. I fear there may even be priests for whom things like Holy Hours and extended periods of Eucharistic Adoration
are nothing more than quaint relics of a past piety or something which ought to take second place to the pursuit of social justice and the search to find the face of Jesus in the poor. Nothing, however, could be further from the truth!

Being with the Lord

Pope Benedict reminds us that "Eucharistic Adoration is an essential way of being with the Lord." When someone spends time with Our Lord in the Eucharist, he or she makes a conscious and deliberate choice to belong to Christ entirely for that period, since the believer cannot be present to Christ through the mind alone or through the senses alone. Since the believer has put aside every other activity, sacrificed every lesser good which might have been accomplished in that hour for the greater good of lingering
a time with Jesus, that person has made a very clear accounting of what in his or her life belongs by right to Christ. It is everything.

Understood in this sense, Adoration is not a "dispensable" devotion. Rather, it captures within itself the full essence of the Church's response to God's initiative in grace and expresses in a very real sense that the baptismal vocation of each Christian is to live in, with and through Christ.

Priests and Deacons as Adorers

But I should add immediately that Eucharistic Adoration expresses in a very personal way the particular vocation of those whom Christ has called to a deeper
union with Him through their ordination. Priests should find themselves drawn to Eucharistic Adoration so that they might be ever more deeply identified with
Christ the High Priest, Who lives forever before the Father that He might intercede for us.

Deacons should find themselves drawn to Adoration so that they might pattern their leadership and charity after the love of Christ, the Suffering Servant. I am convinced that those priests and deacons who begin by contemplating the love of Our Lord's Eucharistic Heart must eventually end by recalling the days of their youth, not their biological youth, but rather the youthful energy with which they first responded with
their heart's "YES!" to the invitation whispered by the Heart of Jesus.

Restoration of the Church's Ordained Priests and Servants

In this way, through Adoration, priests and deacons will be constantly rejuvenated and never grow old or weary or stiff-necked in their service of God's people.
This is why when I read the recent instruction on Eucharistic Adoration from the Holy See, I also sensed that while the Vatican talks about the recovery of the
Church's Eucharistic imagination as the end or purpose of this initiative, there is also a very real sense that this whole effort is directed in love toward the spiritual,
psychological, moral and physical restoration of the Church's ordained priests and servants.

The Eucharistic Shrine

This explains, I think, the third request made by Cardinal Hummes. The first two: that each diocese set aside specific churches or oratories to serve as Eucharistic
shrines, similar to Marian shrines; and that in each diocese a priest be appointed to the specific priestly ministry of promoting Eucharistic Adoration, are each
connected to the larger theme of Eucharistic Adoration in the Church as a whole and can be understood as steps to be taken for our recovery of that Eucharistic
imagination of which I have spoken.

Spiritual Motherhood of Priests

But the third request is different. The third request can only be understood as pertaining to the life and holiness of our priests. Becoming the spiritual mother of a priest Cardinal Hummes' third request was that bishops across the world encourage the women of their diocese to discern whether or not they have received the vocation of serving the priestly Heart of Jesus by offering themselves, their prayers and sacrifices, to be the spiritual mothers of those priests who are configured through Holy Orders to the one and eternal Priest, Jesus Christ.

A Feminine Vocation

Of that vocation, Cardinal Hummes writes: "The vocation to be a spiritual mother for priests is largely unknown, scarcely understood and consequently rarely lived,
notwithstanding its fundamental importance. It is a vocation that is frequently hidden, invisible to the naked eye, but meant to transmit spiritual life." Independent of one's age or social status, any woman who has been called by Christ can become a mother for
his priests. It would be just as possible for an unmarried woman or a widow to spiritually adopt a priest-son as it would be for the mother of a family to love another
son, spiritually given her to adopt and nurture. Nor would there be any barriers to prevent the elderly or the handicapped from fully embracing this vocation,
which is at the same time, Marian (since Our Lady is the perfect model of what it means to be united in spiritual motherhood with Jesus the Priest), Eucharistic (since the essence of their prayer and reparation for their spiritual sons will be offered in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament), Ecclesial (since it is intimately connected with the sacramental life of the Church) and Feminine (since it is life-giving and nurturing).

Give Birth to a Movement of Prayer

As I reflect upon the Cardinal's letter, it seems to me that the vocation of spiritual motherhood is so intimately linked to the Eucharistic Conversion of Life of which we have spoken, that the only proper way to put it is that the Church is asking Her women to give birth to a movement of prayer, specifically Eucharistic Adoration, so that from every home there might flow constant love, adoration, thanksgiving and reparation to God on behalf of his priests, that those men who stand before the altar, stand there holy and blameless in God's sight.

Finally, a Welcome

As you will read elsewhere in this issue of the EOC, I have invited Cistercian Father Mark Kirby to come to Tulsa and help all of us - that is, help me as the Bishop, help the priests and deacons serving in our parishes, help the lay people and the religious - to implement this program of Eucharistic conversion of life by offering the witness of his own life of Adoration and reparation, his ministry of spiritual direction to priests and
deacons, and his labors to build a Cenacle of prayer and piety from which, I hope, sufficient graces will flow until the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus is enthroned in every
parish, worshiped in every home and loved in every heart.

An End and a Beginning

| | Comments (6)

sanluigigonzaga_lovefortheword.JPG

June 21, 2008
Memorial of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga

Official End of my Service as Chaplain
to the Monastery of the Glorious Cross, O.S.B.
Branford, Connecticut, U.S.A.

Luigi: A Eucharistic Saint

Saint Aloysius, Luigi to call him by his proper name, may well be the most loved Jesuit in history. Luigi contracted the plague from those whom he was nursing. He foresaw his own death and asked Our Lord that he might die within the Octave of Corpus Christi. He died, in fact, on the Octave Day of Corpus Christi with the name of Jesus on his lips. Luigi was twenty-three years old. The liturgy commemorates the Eucharistic glow surrounding Luigi’s death in today’s Communion Antiphon:

He gave them the bread of heaven:
men ate the bread of angels (Ps 77:24–35).

Into the Radiance of the Eucharist

I should like to think that this my last “official Mass” as chaplain of the Monastery of the Glorious Cross might also leave us in a kind of Eucharistic glow. Every Holy Mass does this, certainly, but I see this particular celebration, after seven years of service as chaplain to the Sisters, as marking a movement in my own life and, I would hope, in yours too, from the radiance of the Eucharist into the radiance of the Eucharist.

With Faces Unveiled

The high point of my seven years here was, without any doubt, the Year of the Eucharist proclaimed by Pope John Paul II in 2004–2005. The Year of the Eucharist was that of his death, followed by the election of Pope Benedict XVI. It was also, for all of us, I think, in one way or another, a year marked by very special graces flowing, all of them, from the adorable mystery of the Eucharist, and carrying us as on a great surging wave, back into it, again and again. Does not the psalmist say, “In Thy light we shall see light” (Ps 35:10)? And does not Saint Paul describe the Christian journey as a movement from brightness to brightness? “It is given to us,” he says, “all alike, to catch the glory of the Lord as in a mirror, with faces unveiled; and so we become transfigured into the same likeness, borrowing glory from that glory, as the Spirit of the Lord enables us” (2 Cor 3:18).

The Eucharistic Face of Christ

The contemplation of the Eucharistic Face of Christ, the adoration of the Eucharistic Face of Christ is something that, for me at least, came into focus very clearly over the past three years. I had meditated, it is true, the invocation that the Congregation [of the Benedictines of Jesus Crucified] taught me thirty-three years ago — “Most Holy Face of Jesus, sub Sacramento abscondita, hidden in the Host, look upon us, and have mercy” — but I needed, as we all do, those thirty-three years of sufferings, weaknesses, sorrows, blessings, and joys, for that invocation to pass from my head into the very fibres of my heart.

My New Mission

The wonderful Providence of God has so arranged things that I find myself now preparing to enter upon a new mission, one that is explicitly Eucharistic and priestly, one that will be marked by adoration, reparation, and a full-time dedication to the spiritual needs of priests and deacons.

In the June, 8, 2008 edition of his diocesan newspaper, Eastern Oklahoma Catholic, His Excellency, Bishop Edward J. Slattery, presented something of his vision for the Eucharistic renewal of his diocese, beginning with the Eucharistic renewal of his clergy. Rather than explain this to you in my own words, allow me to share with you what Bishop Slattery wrote.

“As a living organism, the Diocese must be assessed not at the level of measurable material things, but at the level of spiritual health, that is, the level of our ever-growing intimacy with Jesus Christ. Since the spiritual life is based on love, not to advance in this dynamic relationship with God in Christ is to retreat. One either grows in Divine intimacy or retreats from it; but the spiritual life is never static.”

Spiritual Health of the Clergy

Bishop Slattery has called me to the Diocese of Tulsa to be an agent of the spiritual health of his clergy, to foster and facilitate the ever-growing intimacy of his priests and deacons with Jesus Christ. His Excellency goes on to say:

“Let me introduce an idea, which is evidently a strongly felt part of the Pope’s vision. . . . The pontiff expressed his desires . . . through the Congregation for the Clergy in a circular letter from the Prefect of that Congregation, Cláudio Cardinal Hummes. That idea, briefly put, is this: Since there is an undeniable link between - on the one hand - the holiness of our clergy, the effectiveness of their pastoral ministry and the depth of their personal commitment and – on the other hand - the centrality of prayer and Eucharistic adoration in their lives, then of all the things which are necessary for the good of the Church, nothing can be considered more important, more necessary or more vital than helping our priests and deacons grow in Divine intimacy.”

It is that last line — nothing can be considered more important, more necessary or more vital than helping our priests and deacons grow in Divine intimacy — that explains Bishop Slattery’s mandate to me. He explains:

First and Foremost An Adorer of the Eucharist

“After their ordination, priests and deacons step to the altar of sacrifice and kiss it. They embrace a life of sacrifice which opens them up and makes them vulnerable to their Master’s redeeming love and allows His Eucharistic love to flow through them to sanctify the communities they serve. As Pope Benedict said “The secret of (priestly) holiness lies precisely in the Eucharist. The priest must be first and foremost an adorer who contemplates the Eucharist.”(Sept. 18, 2005).”

Adoration in the Diocese of Tulsa

His Excellency wants to express this concretely in the life of his Diocese:

“Cardinal Hummes asked that Eucharistic adoration be fostered in every parish and Catholic institution, with priests, chaplains and directors encouraged to strengthen the practice of adoration where it is already firmly established and introduce this devotion in places where it has not been known or where it has been allowed to disappear. Cardinal Hummes would be pleased to know that the kind of Eucharistic renewal he envisions has been quietly but steadily growing in our Diocese. Already eight parishes (plus St. John Hospital – a ninth site!) offer continuous (daily or even 24-hour) adoration, and a further 32 offer weekly periods of adoration. In fact, fully 72 out of our 78 parishes and missions have some form of Eucharistic Adoration during the course of the year!”

The Eucharistic Cenacle

Bishop Slattery intends to do still more. Listen to the description of his project:

“Cardinal Hummes asked that wherever possible, specific churches or oratories be set aside by the Bishop to serve the diocese as Eucharistic shrines, similar to Marian shrines. In these shrines of adoration, the Church’s special love for the Holy Eucharist, worthily celebrated and continuously adored, can be fostered and nourished until the light of Our Eucharistic Lord transfigures the whole Diocese. I have already decided to do this, but have prayed much that Our Lord direct me to the best location of our first such Eucharistic Cenacle of Prayer.”

For the Holiness of the Clergy

His Excellency has decided then, to set aside a place, and to designate it a Cenacle of Eucharistic Adoration for Priests. Then he describes what my mission will be.

“A second recommendation made by Cardinal Hummes was that in each Diocese a priest be appointed to the specific priestly ministry of promoting Eucharistic adoration. In some ways, the ministry of this priest-servant of the Eucharist would be to coordinate this important movement throughout the Diocese; but his ministry would be much more than simply coordination and management. Dedicating himself generously to making Our Eucharistic Lord better known and more loved, this priest would live a life of personal reparation and sacrifice offered for the holiness of the clergy. I am taking Cardinal Hummes’ recommendation very seriously; but I think that in this Diocese, it would be very beneficial to add to this priest’s ministry of sacrifice, a further responsibility, that of serving as spiritual director and confessor to our priests and deacons.”

Spiritual and Material Support

I took the time — your time — today to quote Bishop Slattery at length because I want to ask you to adopt this new mission of mine, first of all spiritually, by carrying it in the secret of your own prayer, but also materially if you are able to do so. I appeal to the Sisters, and to all the women here; I ask you to respond generously to the Holy See’s request that you accept the challenge and responsibility of spiritual motherhood for priests. This means offering your prayer, your sufferings, your sacrifices for the sake of priests, for the healing of those who are spiritually wounded, and for their growth in Divine Intimacy.

Thursdays of Adoration and Reparation for Priests

I invite all of you to commit yourselves to an hour of Eucharistic adoration in a spirit of reparation and supplication for priests every Thursday. Thursday is, as you know, the beginning of the weekly rememoration of the Paschal Mystery, it recalls the “Birthday of the Chalice,” that is, the institution of the Priesthood and of the Most Holy Eucharist.

Thanksgiving

It is time now to go to the altar of the Holy Sacrifice. Today, I carry to the altar and place upon the corporal, together with the bread that will become the Body of Christ, and the wine mixed with water that will become His Precious Blood, all that has happened in the Monastery of the Glorious Cross over the past seven years and — because God is eternal — all that the future holds in store for you and for me. For all things willed and permitted by God, I will sing, “Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.” To that, there can be but one suitable response: “It is right and just.”

I gratefully acknowledge Rorate Caeli as the source of the above image of Saint Luigi Gonzaga.

A Shepherd Speaks

| | Comments (1)

img.aspx.jpeg

His Excellency, Bishop Edward J. Slattery of the Diocese of Tulsa, Oklahoma speaks to his people of Divine Intimacy, the holiness of the clergy, Eucharistic adoration, the maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and his plans for a Cenacle of Eucharistic Adoration for priests. Emphases in boldface are my own. The full article can be found in the June 8, 2008 edition of Eastern Oklahoma Catholic.

Assessments aren’t audits

As a living organism, the Diocese must be assessed not at the level of measurable material things, but at the level of spiritual health, that is, the level of our ever growing intimacy with Jesus Christ. Since the spiritual life is based on love, not to advance in this dynamic relationship with God in Christ is to retreat. One either grows in Divine intimacy or retreats from it; but the spiritual life is never static. Let me stress then that when we study the various homilies, talks and addresses of the Holy Father, we do so in order to better comprehend the vibrant, evangelical vision he proposes for the Church in America. We want to understand his vision so thoroughly that we will see it with our own eyes, hear it with our own ears and feel it beat - pulse for pulse - within our own Oklahoma heart. Then, with that deep understanding we hope to achieve, we will be able to look at our situation here and assess more honestly and more humbly the life of the Church in Eastern Oklahoma according to the pope’s universal vision.

Not measuring things but gauging the depth of our faith

In effect, I want you to understand that I am not proposing an evaluation of our programs, but of our vision. We are not looking to assess how effectively our programs work, but how well they reflect the Gospel we preach. We are not measuring things but gauging the depth of our faith in God and our trust in His Providence. And with that, let me introduce an idea, which is evidently a strongly felt part of the pope’s vision, but oddly enough, a part which he did not communicate to us personally while he was in Washington and New York. Instead the pontiff expressed his desires several months prior to his trip through the Congregation for the Clergy in a circular letter from the Prefect of that Congregation, Cláudio Cardinal Hummes. That idea, briefly put, is this: Since there is an undeniable link between - on the one hand - the holiness of our clergy, the effectiveness of their pastoral ministry and the depth of their personal commitment and – on the other hand - the centrality of prayer and Eucharistic adoration in their lives, then of all the things which are necessary for the good of the Church, nothing can be considered more important, more necessary or more vital than helping our priests and deacons grow in Divine intimacy.

web%20bishop%20home%20page.JPG

The holiness of priests and deacons

The holiness to which Jesus calls his priests and deaconsflows from their configuration to Christ the Priest and Christ the Servant as our Lord stands before the Father in the Kingdom of Heaven. All the baptized, including the priest and the deacon are united to Christ; but each priest and each deacon - by virtue of his ordination- is configured to Christ the High Priest or to Christ, the suffering Servant; but in either case, by their ordination these men become in a sacramental sense the ministers of Christ’s self-giving love. Thus, their growth in holiness depends upon their exercise of that ministry into which they were ordained. This is why, after their ordination, priests and deacons step to the altar of sacrifice and kiss it. They embrace a life of sacrifice which opens them up and makes them vulnerable to their Master’s redeeming love and allows His Eucharistic love to flow through them to sanctify the communities they serve. As Pope Benedict said “The secret of (priestly) holiness lies precisely in the Eucharist. The priest must be first and foremost an adorer who contemplates the Eucharist.”(Sept. 18, 2005) In order to emphasize the intrinsic link between the Eucharist and the holiness of the ordained, while at the same time exploring the special maternity of Our Blessed Lady, Cardinal Hummes asked that Eucharistic adoration be fostered in every parish and Catholic institution, with priests, chaplains and directors encouraged to strengthen the practice of adoration where it is already firmly established and introduce this devotion in places where it has not been known or where it has been allowed to disappear.

miriam%20di%20gesu%20crocifisso.jpg W-PIOIX.jpg

Called to a Vocation of Holiness

"I would remind thee to fan the flame of that special grace
which God kindled in thee
when my hands were laid upon thee.
The spirit he has bestowed on us is not one that shrinks from danger;
it is a spirit of action, of love, and of discipline.
Do not blush then for the witness thou bearest to our Lord,
or for me, who am his prisoner;
share all the tribulations of the Gospel message
as God gives thee strength.
Has he not saved us, and called us to a vocation of holiness?"
(2 Timothy 1:6–9)

Monthly Votive Mass of the Holy Spirit

On May 18, 1874, the Carmelite Blessed Mary of Jesus Crucified (1846–1878) beheld a chalice streaming with light and a dove. From the light she heard a voice saying:

I ardently desire that priests say a Mass each month in honour of the Holy Spirit. Whoever will say it or hear it will be honoured by the Holy Spirit Himself. He will have light, he will have peace. He will cure the sick. He will awaken those who are asleep.

True Devotion to the Paraclete

In June 1877, through the intermediary of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, she sent a message to Blessed Pope Pius IX, saying:

The world and religious communities are seeking novelties in devotions, and they are neglecting true devotion to the Paraclete. That is why there is error and disunion, and why there is no peace or light. They do not invoke the light as it should be invoked, and it is this light that gives knowledge of truth. It is neglected even in seminaries. . . .

Light for Priests

Every person in the world that will invoke the Holy Spirit and have devotion to Him will not die in error. Every priest that preaches this devotion will receive light while he is speaking of it to others.

I was told that each priest in the whole world should be required to say one Mass of the Holy Spirit each month, and all those who assist at it will receive very special grace and light.

I have tried, since my own ordination twenty-two years ago, to celebrate a Votive Mass of the Holy Spirit on the first available ferial day of each month. For me it is a way of following Saint Paul's injunction to the young priest Timothy: "Fan the flame of that special grace which God kindled in thee, when my hands were laid upon thee" (2 Tim 1:6). The Roman Missal contains a wealth of texts for the Mass of the Holy Spirit.

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.

Donations for Silverstream Priory

Categories

Archives