Priesthood: September 2009 Archives

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There is a verse in the book of Ezra that is, I think, a wonderful expression of the life and mission of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina: “The Levites, every one of whom had purified himself for the occasion, sacrificed the Passover for the rest of the exiles, for their brethren the priests, and for themselves” (Ez 6:20).

Padre Pio's life was a long and uninterrupted celebration of the Pasch of the Lord. Configured to Jesus Crucified, Priest and Victim, Padre Pio offered himself to the Father in the daily Sacrifice of the Mass. Saint Pio’s paschal immolation -- his participation in the Cross of Christ -- was for the sake of "the rest of the exiles," all of us who go mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. And it was for the sake of "his brethren": for all priests called to follow him in a life of paschal purity and victimhood,

Entrance Antiphon

MR
God forbid that I should glory
except in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,
through which the world is crucified to me,
and I to the world (Gal 6:14).

Collect

Almighty and eternal God,
who, by a singular grace,
allowed the priest Saint Pio
to participate in the cross of your Son,
and by means of his ministry, renewed the wonders of your mercy;
grant, through his intercession that,
constantly united to the passion of Christ,
we may happily arrive at the glory of the resurrection.
Through the same our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

A Patron of Parish Priests

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Saint Gaetano Catanoso

Antiphon: Lord, when was it that we saw Thee hungry and fed Thee,
or thirsty and gave Thee drink?
When was it that we saw Thee a stranger,
and brought Thee home,
sick or in prison and came to Thee?
And the King will answer them:
Believe me, when you did it to one of the least of my brethren here,
you did it to me.

V. Pray for us, Saint Gaetano.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray.

Stir up, O Lord, in our hearts
the spirit of adoration and reparation
that filled Saint Gaetano, Your priest,
that we, having our eyes fixed, like his,
on the Eucharistic Face of Jesus,
may live in ceaseless prayer
and in the humble service of those
most in need of compassion.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, forever and ever.

The Priest of the Holy Face of Jesus

Gaetano Catanoso was born on 14 February 1879 in Chorio di San Lorenzo, Reggio Calabria, Italy. His parents, prosperous landowners, were exemplary Christians. Gaetano was ordained a priest in 1902, and from 1904 to 1921 he served in the rural parish of Pentidattilo.

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Adorer of the Eucharistic Face

The Holy Face of Jesus illumined Father Catanoso's life. He venerated the Holy Face as depicted in the image of Veronica's Veil diffused by the Carmel of Tours in France. He began "The Holy Face" Bulletin and established a local chapter of the "Archconfraternity of the Holy Face" in 1920. "The Holy Face," he wrote, "is my life." Saint Gaetano directed anyone seeking the Face of Christ to the Most Holy Eucharist, saying, "If we wish to adore the real Face of Jesus, we can find it in the divine Eucharist where, with the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, the Face of our Lord is hidden under the white veil of the Host."

A Eucharistic Parish Priest

On 2 February 1921, Father Catanoso was transferred to the large parish of Santa Maria de la Candelaria. He served there until 1940. The daily celebration of Holy Mass and Eucharistic adoration were the soul of his priesthood and the sustenance of his apostolate.

As the parish priest of Candelaria, Saint Gaetano drew people to Christ in the Sacrament of the Altar and renewed devotion to the Madonna. The plight of orphans moved him to undertake a number of charitable initiatives. He played an active role in the catechetical instruction of children and young people. Deeply moved by the message of the Blessed Virgin Mary at La Salette, Father Gaetano preached against blasphemy and taught the faithful to sanctify Sundays and the feasts of the Church.

Father Catanoso was compelled to reach out to orphans and to children suffering from neglect and abuse. He sought to provide youth with Christian role models. His charity extended to the forsaken elderly and to priests who found themselves isolated and without support. In all who suffered Father Gaetano saw the Face of Christ. His ardent love for the Most Holy Eucharist found expression in the restoration of churches and abandoned tabernacles.

Servant of Priests

"The Missionary of the Holy Face" spent hours or entire days in prayer before the Tabernacle. In his parish and beyond it he promoted Eucharistic Adoration in the spirit of reparation. He set up "flying-squads" of priests willing to assist other priests by preaching and hearing confessions on special occasions. In 1915 Saint Gaetano published for the first time a "Eucharistic Holy Hour" for priests. Saint Gaetano never let a single day pass without speaking of the Holy Face of Jesus.

Victim Priest

Father Gaetano patiently accepted sickness and, in the last stage of his life, blindness, desiring to unite himself to the saving Passion of Christ. In 1929 he offered himself as a victim priest to the Heart of Jesus.

La Madonna

Saint Gaetano's devotion to the Madonna was tender and childlike. He began praying the rosary daily as a little boy and remained faithful to the practice until his death. The rosary never left his hands, becoming for him a ceaseless prayer of the heart. To all who approached him for spiritual counsel he communicated his love of the Mother of God and his confidence in her intercession.

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Spiritual Father and Founder

From 1921 to 1950 Saint Gaetano served as confessor to various religious communities and in the Reggio Calabria prison. He served as spiritual director of the Archdiocesan Seminary. Everyone called him "Father," a title not normally given parish priests in Italy. He was, in fact, a beloved spiritual father generating holiness of life in countless priests and consecrated women. Father Gaetano's simple and ardent preaching attracted sinners to the contemplation of the Holy Face of Jesus and inspired souls to imitate his life of adoration and reparation.

In 1934, Father Catanoso founded in Riparo, Reggio Calabria, the Congregation of the Sisters Veronicas of the Holy Face of Jesus. The Sisters devote themselves to Eucharistic adoration and reparation to the Holy Face, catechesis, assistance to children, youth, priests and the elderly.

Canonized Three Years Ago

Father Gaetano Catanoso died on the Thursday of Passion Week, April 4, 1963. Pope John Paul II beatified him on May 4, 1997. Pope Benedict XVI canonized him on October 23, 2005. The liturgical memorial of Saint Gaetano Catanoso was fixed on September 20, the date of his ordination to the holy priesthood.

An American Cousin

Saint Gaetano's American cousin, Justin Catanoso, wrote a book recounting his experience of having a saint in the family. Visit Justin's website here.

Ipse est sacerdos, ipse est Deus

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The lessons at Vigils this morning were extraordinarily compelling in the context of this Year of the Priest. (I use the Latin-French Lectionnaire monastique in six volumes edited by the Abbey of Solesmes. Would anyone know if a Latin-English version of the same lectionary is in preparation anywhere in the monastic world?)

First Lesson, Hosea 4:6-10
When Priests Lack Knowedge

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children. The more they increased, the more they sinned against me; I will change their glory into shame. They feed on the sin of my people; they are greedy for their iniquity. And it shall be like people, like priest; I will punish them for their ways, and requite them for their deeds. They shall eat, but not be satisfied; they shall play the harlot, but not multiply; because they have forsaken the LORD to cherish harlotry.

Here is my translation of the Second Lesson:

Fulgentius Ferrandus was a sixth century deacon of Carthage renowned for his defense of the orthodox faith against the Arians.

From the Dogmatic Letter of the Deacon Ferrandus, Against the Arians
The Action of the Priest

The action of the priest is twofold: first, he intercedes in order to be heard,
and then, once heard, he gives thanks.
In his intercession he offers the sacrifice of supplication,
in his thanksgiving he offers the sacrifice of praise.
In his intercession he presents the needs of sinners,
in his thanksgiving he recounts the benefits granted with mercy to those who make reparation.
In his intercession he implores pardon for the guilty,
in his thanksgiving he desires to rejoice with those who are absolved.

And so it is with Christ:
possessing an eternal priesthood uninterrupted by death as it is among other priests,
He interceded for us in offering the sacrifice of His own body upon the cross,
and He intercedes even now for us all,
desiring that we also should become a pure sacrifice unto God.

But when Divine Mercy will have become perfected in us,
when death will have been swallowed up in victory,
once all our sorrows will have disappeared,
when, filled with all good things,
we will sin no more,
no more will we lament,
no more will we have to suffer the enemy, the devil,
but we will reign in supreme peace and felicity.
Then, it is true, Christ will no longer intercede for us,
for we will have no need to ask for anything.
Never, however, will He cease giving thanks for us,
just as, in this present day, it is by the mediation of our High Priest
that we will offer the sacrifice of praise.

Always then will Christ be the High Priest
by whose mediation we can offer the sacrifice of praise.
Always, He is lower because He is the priest.
This notwithstanding, because Christ is forever one,
He Himself is the High Priest,
and He Himself is God who with the Father and the Holy Spirit
is adored, blessed, and glorified by the faithful.
He Himself intercedes,
He Himself gives thanks,
and He Himself bestows grace.

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

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