Dear Parishioners, +JMJ
The weeks of Advent and Christmas have flown by, and it seems like just yesterday when I was asking for prayers for the Priests’ Day of Sanctification, which was held in Carey, Ohio on December 3rd. The guest speaker was Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of the Diocese of Louisville, Kentucky. He spoke about the four following characteristics of a priest’s life: silence, memory, mercy and sacrifice.
Under the heading of silence, my favorite quote was from Cardinal Sarah’s recent book, The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise: “Without silence, there is no mystery. And without mystery, we are reduced to the banality of the material world.” The Archbishop spoke of the need to have contemplation every day, rather than running around constantly with busyness. Without contemplation, we really don’t even know what we ought to be busy about. We cannot be in the driver’s seat of our life, if there is no contemplation in our life. Contemplation will also keep alive the flame of our first love for Jesus. Without contemplation, a priest can actually get to the point of experiencing his assignment as such a burden that he actually considers himself a victim.
Under the heading of memory, most noteworthy was the suggestion that we consider all the mentors who have given something to our lives. We must remember how much has been given to us.
Under the heading of mercy, the Archbishop spoke about mercy we have received, as well as mercy we been privileged to offer towards others. He said that one marker of good, quality fiber in a presbyterate (all the priests in the diocese related together) is our ability to “clap for one another”. Can we rejoice in the successes of our brother priests? Can we rejoice in the gifts our brother priests have, even if they are greater than our own?
Under the heading of sacrifice, the Archbishop told a story about a priest in a third-grade classroom who asked the kids, “What is sacrifice?” One little girl answered, “Do something you don’t want to do, because you love the person so much.” The priest learned that this little girl had an older sibling in a wheelchair. The Archbishop spoke about how a priest is sanctified by accepting from his Bishop and from the faithful in his parish all the characteristics of concrete life. The priest has to give himself in love in the midst of all of the real details and people. When the priest lifts the paten (i.e., the gold plate holding the host) in Holy Mass, he must be spiritually offer his own life on the paten as well.
So there are some highlights from the diocesan Priests’ Day of Sanctification this past December 3rd. I am very glad Bishop Thomas begin this tradition for us to build up the life of priests in the Diocese. [Yours truly cantored for the day… So perhaps the only thing people could complain about from the day was the music!]
Archbishop Kurtz offered a very practical idea from his own ministry that I want to adopt. He collects anonymous, real prayer petitions from his flock, and he has them stacked in his private chapel. He says he goes through 40 of them a day, systematically lifting up each need to the Lord. Now that I have the chapel in my rectory completed, this will be a great next step. We have the petition cards designed, but I still have to research a bit to figure out how best to set up and effective and efficient system. Soon you should see something more about this in the bulletin, and perhaps also hear something about it from the ambo at Mass.
Have a blessed week!
In cordibus Iesu et Mariae,
Father Joseph Poggemeyer