Tuesday, April 15, 2014

April 15, 2014 Tuesday: Divine Mercy Novena #8 Pray for Zeal in our Priests

Can you remember a priest whose zeal for Jesus and His people impressed you? Cardinal Timothy Dolan recalled such a priest when the Cardinal was a high school seminarian. One Christmas Eve his home parish pastor invited him on a communion call to the nursing home. The young seminarian initially envisioned a nice steak lunch and beer at a restaurant after a brief visit to the nursing home. But it turned out to be something totally unexpected. It was the seminarian’s first ever visit to a nursing home. When they entered a resident’s room, the seminarian gasped as he saw an emaciated lady lying on the floor in her soiled gown. The pastor bent over her, consoled her, got her to smile, and got her on the bed. The pastor then took a wet towel and soothed her face, went and got a mop, and cleaned up the mess. He settled her in the bed, calmed her down, prayed with her, gave her Holy Communion, and then gave her a little bottle of lotion as a Christmas gift. Cardinal Dolan remembered how that experience changed his viewpoint of priesthood.

What does a zealous priest look like? He is a priest on fire with love for God and his people. His motive is the salvation of the people entrusted to his care, to bring people into living contact with Jesus the Savior through his Word, his Church, and his Sacraments. He spends his life giving to others and being available to others. If a priest is looking for a life of ease, comfort, convenience, and advancement, he is not living the priestly life to which Jesus called him. We do not need lazy, whining, self-serving, and lethargic priests. One bishop commented to Cardinal Dolan, “If I could get my priests to put in an eight-hour day, forty-hour week, I’d have the most vibrant, evangelized diocese around.” We do not need tired, scared, pampered priests who are only concerned about their time off, their rooms, their cars, their clothes, their comfort, their rights, but priests whose hearts are so on fire with love for Jesus and the salvation of his people that, as St. Paul said, “all is rubbish save my knowledge of Jesus Christ.” We also do not need priests who are zealots, who are single-minded, obsessed priest who thinks that the answer to everything is by excessive attention to one cause, for there is only one cause--Christ and his Church. Priests needs to be careful about excessive absorption in one single cause, however good that one cause might be. Causes such as the pro-life movement, Medjugorje, perpetual Eucharistic Adoration, Divine Mercy, peace and justice, the environement--all are worth careful attention and zealous care, but priests should not become a zealot over any one cause except Jesus and his Church.

Tomorrow, all the priests of our Diocese will be gathering together for the

Chrism Mass where they will renew their priestly vows and recommit their obedience to their bishop. It is the day when priests remind themselves the great privilege given to them by Christ who configures the priests of his Church to himself in a unique way, making them icons of his own priesthood. The ordained priesthood feeds, blesses, and ennobles the baptismal priesthood of all the faithful, enabling them to go into the world to convert it to Christ. Pope Francis, during last year’s Chrism Mass said to the priests present, “A good priest can be recognized by the way his people are anointed with the oil of gladness, when they leave mass looking as if they have heard good news. People thank us because they feel that we have prayed over the realities of their everyday lives, their troubles, their joys, their burdens and their hopes.”

Let us pray for our priests as they renew their vows tomorrow that their hearts will be stirred up with God’s grace with zeal for God’s people and they go out of themselves to be fishers of men.