Summer and holidays have a way of making you lose track of time! I have neglected this blog and today I want to share something that is very much in my heart.
On June 19, the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, inaugurated a very special “Year for Priests” in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the death of St. John Mary Vianney, the famous Cure of Ars and the patron saint of priests. (see http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08326c.htm)%20 The saintly Cure of Ars, who loved his priesthood and who poured out his life ministering to his people, would often say that “the priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus.”
Our Holy Father said “this touching expression makes us reflect, first of all, with heartfelt gratitude on the immense gift which priests represent, not only for the Church, but also for humanity itself. I think of all those priests who quietly present Christ’s words and actions each day to the faithful and to the whole world… How can I not pay tribute to their apostolic labors, their tireless and hidden service, their universal charity? And how can I not praise the courageous fidelity of so many priests who, even amid difficulties and incomprehension, remain faithful to their vocation as “friends of Christ”, whom he has called by name, chosen and sent?”
The Cure of Ars was very humble and as a priest he was conscious of being an immense gift to his people. Said the Cure:
“Oh, how great is the priest!...God obeys him: he utters a few words and the Lord descends from heaven at his voice, to be contained within a small host…Without the Sacrament of Holy Orders, we would not have the Lord. Who put him there in the tabernacle? The priest. Who welcomed your soul at the beginning of your life? The priest. Who feeds your soul and gives it strength for its journey? The priest. Who will prepare it to appear before God, bathing it one last time in the blood of Jesus Christ? The priest…”
The Holy Father said the Year of the Priest is meant to deepen the commitment of all priests to interior renewal for the sake of a more forceful and incisive witness to the Gospel in today's world. Let us pray during this Year for Our Holy Father, our Bishops and all priests, especially those who serve us. Let us be grateful for our priests and encourage them in their vocation. And let us pray for good vocations to the Priesthood. Without our priests there would be no Eucharist, no Sacrament of Reconciliation.
To read our Holy Father’s entire letter click on http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/letters/2009/documents/hf_ben-xvi_let_20090616_anno-sacerdotale_en.html