armaghpriest
by armaghpriest.com on March 19th, 2017

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met on Friday with participants at an annual course on the internal forum, organised by the Apostolic Penitentiary.In his words to the group, the Pope spoke about the formation of good confessors, focusing on three characteristics which should guide their work.



​Firstly, Pope Francis said, a good confessor is a true friend of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, and a person dedicated to prayer. A Ministry of Reconciliation "bound up in prayer", he said, is a credible reflection of God's mercy and will “avoid the harshness and misunderstandings” that are sometimes associated with the Sacrament. Prayer is the first guarantee for avoiding harsh attitudes, pointlessly judging the sinner and not the sin, he said. Pope Francis told participants that they cannot forgive through the Sacrament without the awareness of first having been forgiven themselves. He urged them to pray for humility and “the gift of a wounded heart” so that they are able to understand other people's wounds and heal them with the oil of mercy.

Secondly, the Pope said the good confessor is a man of the Spirit, a man of discernment. How much harm is done to the Church through a lack of discernment, he added. Discernment, he insisted,  enables a confessor to distinguish and not "tar all with the same brush" despite the many different and delicate situations people bring to the confessional.
Pope Francis said that if a confessor becomes aware of the presence of genuine spiritual disturbances, confirmed through a ”healthy collaboration” with specialists in human sciences, he must not hesitate to refer the issue to an exorcist, chosen with “great care and great prudence”.

Finally, Pope Francis concluded, the confessional is also a true place of evangelization and thus of formation. In the brief dialogue that is woven with the penitent, he said the confessor is called to discern what may be most useful or even necessary to the spiritual journey of that brother or sister. He stressed that confession is a real pastoral priority and he urged them never to limit the availability of the Sacrament to anyone who comes asking for it.



Please find below the English translation of Pope Francis’ address
Dear brothers,
I am pleased to meet you in this first audience with you after the Jubilee of Mercy, on the occasion of the annual Course on the Internal Forum. I address warm greetings to the Cardinal Major Penitentiary, and thank him for his kind remarks. I greet the Regent, the Prelates, the Officials and the staff of the Penitentiary, the Colleges of the ordinary and extraordinary penitentiaries of the Papal Basilicas in Rome, and all of you, participants in this course.
In reality, I admit, this Penitentiary is the type of Tribunal I truly like! It is a “tribunal of mercy”, to which we turn to obtain that indispensable medicine that is divine mercy.

Your course on the internal forum, which contributes to the formation of good confessors, is more useful than ever, and I would say even necessary in our times. Certainly, one does not become a good confessor thanks to a course, no: that of the confessional is a long education, that lasts a lifetime. But who is a “good confessor”? How does one become a good confessor?
I would like to indicate, in this respect, three aspects.

1. The “good confessor” is, first of all, a true friend of Jesus the Good Shepherd. Without this friendship, it will be difficult to develop that fatherliness so necessary in the ministry of Reconciliation. Being friends of Jesus means first of all cultivating prayer: both personal prayer with the Lord, incessantly asking for the gift of pastoral charity, and the specific prayer for the exercise of the task of the confessor and for the faithful, brothers and sisters who come to us in search of God’s mercy.
A ministry of Reconciliation “bound in prayer” will be a credible response to God’s mercy, and will avoid the harshness and misunderstandings that at times can be generated even in the Sacramental encounter. A confessor who prays is well aware of being the first sinner and the first to be forgiven. One cannot forgive in the Sacrament without the awareness of having been forgiven first. Therefore, prayer is the first guarantee for avoiding harsh attitudes, pointlessly judging the sinner and not the sin.
In prayer it is necessary to implore the gift of a wounded heart, able to comprehend the wounds of others and to heal them with the oil of mercy, that which the good Samaritan poured on the wounds of the poor victim on whom no-one took pity (cf. Luke, 10:34).
In prayer we must ask for the precious gift of humility, so that it may appear increasingly clear that forgiveness is a free and supernatural gift of God, of which we are simple, if necessary, administrators, by the very will of Jesus; and He will certainly be glad if we make extensive use of His mercy.
In prayer, then, let us always invoke the Holy Spirit, Who is the Spirit of discernment and compassion. The Spirit enables us to empathise with the sufferings of our sisters and brothers who enter the confessional, and to accompany them with prudent and mature discernment and with true compassion in their sufferings, caused by the poverty of sin.

2. The good confessor is, in second place, a man of the Spirit, a man of discernment. How much harm is done to the Church by a lack of discernment! How much harm is done to souls by a way of acting that is not rooted in humbly listening to Holy Spirit and to God’s will. The confessor does not act according to his own will and does not teach his own doctrine. He is called always to do the will of God alone, in full communion with the Church, of whom he is the minister, that is, a servant.
Discernment allows us always to distinguish, rather than confuse, and to never “tar all with the same brush”. Discernment educates our outlook and our heart, enabling that delicacy of spirit that is so necessary before those who open up the shrine of their own conscience, to receive light, peace and mercy.
Discernment is necessary also because those who approach the confessional may come from the most desperate situations; they could also have spiritual disturbances, whose nature should be submitted to careful discernment, taking into account all the existential, ecclesial, natural and supernatural circumstances. When the confessor becomes aware of the presence of genuine spiritual disturbances – that may be in large part psychic, and therefore must be confirmed by means of healthy collaboration with the human sciences – he must not hesitate to refer the issue to those who, in the diocese, are charged with this delicate and necessary ministry, namely, exorcists. But these must be chosen with great care and great prudence.

3. Finally, the confessional is also a true place of evangelisation. Indeed, there is no evangelisation more authentic than the encounter with the God of mercy, with the God Who is Mercy. Encountering mercy means encountering the true face of God, just as the Lord Jesus revealed Him to us.
The confessional is therefore a place of evangelisation and thus of formation. In the dialogue that is woven with the penitent – although brief – the confessor is called to discern what may be most useful or even necessary to the spiritual journey of that brother or sister; at times it becomes necessary to re-proclaim the most elementary truths of faith, the incandescent nucleus, the kerygma, without which the same experience of God’s love and His mercy would remain as if mute; at times it means indicating the foundations of moral life, always in relation to the truth, good and the will of God. It is a work of prompt and intelligent discernment, that can be of great benefit to the faithful.
The confessor, indeed, is called every day to venture to the “peripheries of evil and sin” – this is an ugly periphery! - and his work is a real pastoral priority. Confessing is a pastoral priority. Please, do not let there be those signs that say, “Confessions only on Monday and Wednesday at such-and-such a time”. One confesses whenever one is asked. And if you are there [in the confessional] praying, stay with the confessional open, which is the open heart of God.

Dear brothers, I bless you and I hope that you will be good confessors, immersed in the relationship with Christ, capable of discernment in the Holy Spirit and ready to seize the opportunity to evangelise.
Always pray for your brothers and sisters who seek the Sacrament of forgiveness. And please, pray for me too.

And I would not like to finish without something that came to mind when the Cardinal Prefect spoke. He spoke about keys, and about Our Lady, and I liked this, so I will tell you something … two things. It was very good for me when I was young to read the book of Saint Alfonso Maria de’ Liguori on Our Lady: “The Glories of Mary”. Always, at the end of each chapter, there was a miracle of the Madonna, who entered into life and sorted things out. And the second thing. On Our Lady there is a legend, a tradition that they told me exists in the South of Italy: Our Lady of the Mandarins. It is a land where there are many mandarins, isn’t it? And they say that she is the patroness of thieves [laughter]. They say that thieves go to pray there. And the legend – they say – is that the thieves who pray to Our Lady of the Mandarins, when they die, they form a line in front of Saint Peter who has the keys, and opens and lets one pass, then he lets another one pass; and the Madonna, when she sees one of these, makes a sign for them to hide. Then, once everyone has passed by, Peter closes up and comes during the night, and the Madonna calls him from the window, and lets him enter through the window. It is a folk tale but it is beautiful: forgiving with the Mother next to you, forgiving with the Mother. Because this woman, this man who comes to the confessional, has a Mother in Heaven who opens the door and will help them at that moment to enter Heaven. Always the Madonna, because the Madonna helps us too in showing mercy. I thank the Cardinal for these two signs: the keys, and Our Lady. Many thanks.

I invite you – it is time – to pray the Angelus together. “Angelus Domini…”

Blessing

Don’t say that thieves go to Heaven! Don’t say this! [laughter]

(Article first appeared here (accessed March 19, 2017):
 ​http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2017/03/17/pope_francis_three_characteristics_of_a_good_confessor/1299425)

by armaghpriest.com on March 5th, 2017

​The Pope meets the clergy of his diocese in the Basilica of St. John Lateran, 02.03.2017

This morning in the Papal Basilica of St. John Lateran, the cathedral of Rome, the Holy Father met with the clergy of his diocese during the traditional encounter at the beginning of Lent. During the meeting, the Pope read his meditation on “The progress of faith in the life of the priest”, in whch he lists a series of guidelines for following the path of continuing formation and maturity in faith, valid for the disciple, the missionary, the seminarian, the priest and the bishop. “Fundamentally it is the virtuous cycle referred to in the Aparecida Document that led to the coining of the phrase ‘missionary disciple’”, he said.

“To live, grow and persevere in faith, we must nurture it with the Word of God”, he continued. “We must ask the Lord to increase it. It is a faith that must work by means of charity, sustained by hope and rooted in the faith of the Church”.

Memory, as the Catechism tells us, is rooted in the faith of our forefathers, and making memory of past graces confers to our faith the solidity of the incarnation; it situates it within a history, the history of the faith of our fathers. We, “surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses”, look at what they look at, and “look to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith”.
Hope is what opens faith to the surprises of God, “Our God is always greater than all that we can think or imagine of Him, than what belongs to Him and His way of acting in history. The opening up of hope brings freshness and vision to our faith”.

Discernment, finally, is what concretises faith, making it work through love, what enables it to give credible witness. Discernment of the opportune moment (kairos), as the Holy Father observed, is “fundamentally rich in memory and hope: recalling with love, it directs its gaze with lucidity at what best guides the Promise. And what guides best is always in relation with the cross. With that dispossession of will, with that inner drama of ‘not as I will but as you will’, that places me in the hands of the Father and ensures that it is He Who guides my life”.

The second part of the Pope’s address focused on the figure of St. Peter, “sifted like wheat” by the Lord, so that with his tested faith he confirmed all of us who though we have not seen Christ, love Him. “The faith of Simon Peter has a special nature: it is a faith that was subject to trials, and with it he had the mission of confirming and consolidating the faith of his brothers, our faith”. Simon Peter’s faith has moments of greatness, such as when he confesses that Jesus is the Messiah, but these moments are followed almost immediately by others of great error, of extreme fragility and total confusion, such as when he tries to distance Jesus from the cross, when he began to sink in the lake and his three denials of Jesus.

Temptation is always present in the life of Simon Peter. He teaches us, in the first person, how faith progresses through confession and allowing oneself to be tested. “And also showing that sin itself enters into the progress of faith. Peter has committed the worst sin – denying the Lord – and they made him Pope nonetheless. It is important for a priest to know how to position his own temptations and his own sins in the scope of that prayer of Jesus that our faith not fail us, but that it instead mature and serve to strengthen the faith of others entrusted to him.

“What helps in the growth of faith is keeping together one’s own sin, the desire for the good of others, the help we receive and what we must give. It does not serve to divide: it has no value to feel perfect when we carry out our ministry and, when we sin, justify ourselves with the fact that we are like all the others. We must unite these things: if we strengthen the faith of others, we do so as sinners. And when we sin, we confess for what we are, priests, underlining that we have a responsibility towards people; we are not like everyone else. These two things unite well if we place the people before us: our sheep, the poorest especially. It is what Jesus does when He asks Simon Peter if he loves Him, saying nothing of the pain or the joy that this love causes him, He makes him look to his brothers in this way: feed my sheep, confirm the faith of your brothers”.
“Our elders said to us that faith grows in acts of faith. Simon Peter is the icon of the man whom the Lord Jesus makes accomplish acts of faith in every moment. When Simon Peter understands this ‘dynamic’ of the Lord, this pedagogy of his, he does not miss the opportunity to discern, in every moment, what act of faith he must do in His Lord. And in this he does not err. When Jesus acts as his master, giving him the name Peter, Simon lets Him do so. His ‘let it be thus’ is silent, like that of St. Joseph, and will be shown to be real throughout his life. When the Lord praises and humiliates him, Simon Peter does not look at himself, but is careful to learn the lesson of what comes from the Father and what comes from the devil. When the Lord rebukes him because he has aggrandised himself, he lets himself be corrected. When the Lord shows him, playfully, that he must not be dishonest with the tax collectors, he goes to fish with the coin. When the Lord humiliates him and tells him in advance that he will deny Him, he is sincere in saying what he feels, as he will be in bitterly weeping and in letting himself be forgiven”.

“There are many different moments in his life, yet a single lesson: that of the Lord Who confirms his faith so that he will confirm that of His people”. The Pop concluded, “Let us too ask Peter to confirm us in faith, so that we can confirm that of our brothers”.

(Source: ​http://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/en/bollettino/pubblico/2017/03/02/170302a.html
Photo: ​http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2017/03/02/pope_speaks_to_rome_parish_priests_on_%E2%80%98progress_of_faith%E2%80%99/1296058)


by armaghpriest.com on February 28th, 2017

Praying for Vocations:

A Meditated Rosary for Vocations To the Priesthood And Consecrated Life


​By Monsignor Peter Dunne
And Vicki Herout

© Copyright 2012, Maria Regina Cleri, All rights reserved.

​Taken from http://prayingforourpriests.org


"​In the Mysteries of the Rosary, we contemplate the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. But, if we look carefully with the eyes of faith, we may also see the life of a vocation to serve the Lord in His Church unfolding in the rhythm of the mysteries, following the path of the
life of Jesus.

In the Joyful Mysteries, we first see the seed of vocation appearing, the “infant” vocation, and we pray for its nurturing in devout homes, parishes, and schools.

In the Luminous Mysteries, the Mysteries of Light, we contemplate
the vocation as it takes its first steps into the light of the Church, and we pray for prayerful discernment.

In the Sorrowful Mysteries, we call to mind Jesus’ words, “…unless a grain of wheat falls to the [earth] and dies, it remains a grain of wheat, but if it dies...”
 We pray for young men and women as they enter into formation, preparing to give their lives in service to the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ.

Finally, in the Glorious Mysteries, we contemplate in the Resurrection of Jesus the glorious entrance of the newly ordained or professed into the life of Holy Mother Church, and we pray for their mission, service, and fidelity.

Let us turn our eyes, then, to Mary and join with her in praying to the
Master of the Harvest that He many send an abundance of laborers
into His Holy Vineyard."


You can download a PDF of these Meditations here: ​
http://prayingforourpriests.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Praying-for-Vocations.pdf

(Rosary image from http://www.olphrc.org)

by armaghpriest.com on February 25th, 2017




On Wednesday, 12 August [2009], at the General Audience held at the Papal Summer Residence in Castel Gandolfo, in the context of the upcoming Solemnity of the Assumption the Holy Father reflected on the connection between Our Lady and the priesthood. The following is a translation of the Pope's Reflection, which was given in Italian.





Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The celebration of the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, next Saturday, is at hand and we are in the context of the Year for Priests. I therefore wish to speak of the link between Our Lady and the priesthood. This connection is deeply rooted in the Mystery of the Incarnation.

When God decided to become man in his Son, he needed the freely-spoken "yes" of one of his creatures. God does not act against our freedom. And something truly extraordinary happens: God makes himself dependent on the free decision, the "yes" of one of his creatures; he waits for this "yes".

St Bernard of Clairvaux explained dramatically in one of his homilies this crucial moment in universal history when Heaven, earth and God himself wait for what this creature will say.
Mary's "yes" is therefore the door through which God was able to enter the world, to become man. So it is that Mary is truly and profoundly involved in the Mystery of the Incarnation, of our salvation. And the Incarnation, the Son's becoming man, was the beginning that prepared the ground for the gift of himself; for giving himself with great love on the Cross to become Bread for the life of the world. Hence sacrifice, priesthood and Incarnation go together and Mary is at the heart of this mystery.

Let us now go to the Cross. Before dying, Jesus sees his Mother beneath the Cross and he sees the beloved son. This beloved son is certainly a person, a very important individual, but he is more; he is an example, a prefiguration of all beloved disciples, of all the people called by the Lord to be the "beloved disciple" and thus also particularly of priests.

Jesus says to Mary: "Woman, behold, your son!" (Jn 19:26). It is a sort of testament: he entrusts his Mother to the care of the son, of the disciple. But he also says to the disciple: "Behold, your mother!" (Jn 19:27).


The Gospel tells us that from that hour St John, the beloved son, took his mother Mary "to his own home".


This is what it says in the [English] translation; but the Greek text is far deeper, far richer. We could translate it: he took Mary into his inner life, his inner being, "eis tà ìdia", into the depths of his being.

To take Mary with one means to introduce her into the dynamism of one's own entire existence — it is not something external — and into all that constitutes the horizon of one's own apostolate.

It seems to me that one can, therefore, understand how the special relationship of motherhood that exists between Mary and priests may constitute the primary source, the fundamental reason for her special love for each one of them.


In fact, Mary loves them with predilection for two reasons: because they are more like Jesus, the supreme love of her heart, and because, like her, they are committed to the mission of proclaiming, bearing witness to and giving Christ to the world.

Because of his identification with and sacramental conformation to Jesus, Son of God and Son of Mary, every priest can and must feel that he really is a specially beloved son of this loftiest and humblest of Mothers.

The Second Vatican Council invites priests to look to Mary as to the perfect model for their existence, invoking her as "Mother of the supreme and eternal Priest, as Queen of Apostles, and as Protectress of their ministry". The Council continues, "priests should always venerate and love her, with a filial devotion and worship" (cf. Presbyterorum Ordinis, n. 18).

The Holy Curé d'Ars, whom we are remembering in particular in this Year, used to like to say: "Jesus Christ, after giving us all that he could give us, wanted further to make us heirs to his most precious possession, that is, his Holy Mother (B. Nodet, Il pensiero e l'anima del Curato d'Ars, Turin 1967, p. 305).

This applies for every Christian, for all of us, but in a special way for priests. Dear brothers and sisters, let us pray that Mary will make all priests, in all the problems of today's world, conform with the image of her Son Jesus, as stewards of the precious treasure of his love as the Good Shepherd. Mary, Mother of priests, pray for us!

(Source: ​https://www.ewtn.com/library/PAPALDOC/b16mothrpriest.htm)

by armaghpriest.com on February 23rd, 2017


by armaghpriest.com on February 22nd, 2017


by armaghpriest.com on February 21st, 2017

With thanks to Fr. Edward Looney (@FrEdwardLooney), why not pray for priests who have had an impact in your life?

Here are some suggestions:




​1. The Priest Who Married Your Parents
Some of you may have parents who were not married, and are not married today.  Many will have parents who wedded and then went on to have a family, including you!  Pray for the priest who prepared your parents for marriage and then witnessed their marriage because you are fruit of your parent’s marital love.

2. The Priest Who Baptized You
Some people reading this might have been baptized by a deacon or a protestant minister and you were later received into the Catholic Church through RCIA.  Others will have been baptized by a priest.  Regardless of who baptized you, offer a prayer for them.  Give thanks to God that they claimed you for Christ Jesus through the waters of Baptism.  If you were received in the Church through RCIA, pray for the priest who welcomed you into the Church.

3. The Priest Who Gave You First Communion
Photos from my First Communion remind me of the priest who gave me Jesus for the first time. Now, as a priest, I see him from time to time, which I’m sure makes him feel old.  Pray for that priest, at whose hand ordinary bread and wine became the Body and Blood of Christ for you to receive so many years ago.

4. For the Priests Who Have Heard Your Confessions
Over the years, many priests have probably heard your confession and granted you absolution.  There was your first confession, the Advent and Lenten confessions, Catholic conference and retreat confessions, pilgrimage confessions, regular confessions, and so forth.  These priests have given you counsel to overcome the vices of your life.  They have accompanied you from the darkness of sin into the freedom of Christ’s light.  Thank God for them and for the gift of Christ’s mercy they mediate to us.

5. For the Priest or Bishop who Confirmed You
For those who went through Catholic schools or religious education programs, you were probably confirmed in 8th grade or junior year by the bishop or auxiliary bishop from your diocese. In some dioceses you might have been confirmed by a priest delegate of the bishop. If you are a convert to the faith, then you would have been confirmed at the Easter Vigil. The bishop or priest who confirmed you sealed you with the gift of the Holy Spirit and completed your initiation as a member of the Church. Say a prayer for the bishop or priest, thanking God for the gift of the Holy Spirit that leads you in living the Christian life today.

6. For Your Childhood Priest
The priest from your youth might be the first priest you remember. Possibly because he may have visited your classroom or you saw him regularly at Mass. Or maybe there was a priest in junior high or high school that helped you through a difficult time.  Or a priest who brought you through a major conversion experience at a conference or retreat.  Pray for this priest, that he may still be an example to the youth he ministers to.

7. For Your Current Parish Priest(s) (Pastor, Parochial Vicar)
Priests these days are stretched thin. They celebrate several Masses each weekend and during the week with daily  Mass and funerals. They work early mornings and late nights, on call 24/7 in case of an emergency, serve several communities, and administrate the parish. Pray for their strength, energy, and zeal so they can keep serving God’s people.

8. For the Priest who Witnessed Your Marriage
This won’t apply to everyone, because you might not be married or were married by a deacon. Church law binds Catholics to marry before a priest or deacon and two witnesses, what we call canonical form.  The priest who witnessed your marriage guided you through this process with sacramental preparation.  You might have chosen him because you knew for a long time or maybe because he works at the parish you wanted to get married at.  Whoever he is, offer a prayer for him, that he might inspire other couples to fall deeply in love with God, the Church, and each other.

9. For Senior Priests and Those Who are Sick and Dying
From time to time your parish might have the help of a senior priest.  This might be on account of your pastor juggling several parishes and his inability to bilocate or to relieve your pastor for a brief vacation from parish life.  Many senior priests are busier now than they were before retirement.  As a clergyman, I’m grateful for their assistance.  Say a prayer of thanksgiving for their help in assisting parish priests.  And also remember those priests who have served in our parishes who now are sick, and possibly on their deathbed.  Ask God to give them the reward of their labor.

10. For Priests Facing Temptations; For Those Who are Considering Leaving the Priesthood
Every Tuesday night in compline the priest reads a reading from 1 Peter, “Stay sober and alert.  Your opponent the devil is prowling like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.  Resist him, solid in your faith.”  The evil one is real and cunning, seeking to lead astray souls, especially those who live closely to the sacramental mysteries.  Pray for priests who are faced with temptations, that they may remain faithful to the promises they made to Christ and his Church, and the commandments of God.  One temptation a priest might be faced with is leaving the priesthood. Offer a prayer for any priest who might be considering this, that they may experience a renewal in their priestly identity and mission.


(This article first appeared at ​http://catholicexchange.com/10-priests-pray)

(Image credits: 
Young Man Praying: www.mymorningboost.com
"Pray for Our Priests": www.​http://dioceseofvenice.org/)




by armaghpriest.com on February 20th, 2017

With thanks to ​@Philly_Priest and www.heedthecall.org

by armaghpriest.com on February 18th, 2017

With thanks to John Lamansky (​https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWaT74jiL6XX-fkNd61Ileg)

by armaghpriest.com on February 17th, 2017

"Your Vocation Is Not About You"

By Benjamin Mann

(Source: http://catholicexchange.com/vocation)


​It is quite traditional and correct to speak of “discerning a vocation” – particularly to consecrated life or the priesthood, though also in regard to marriage, careers, and other major commitments. In modern Western culture, however, the idea of vocational discernment has become problematic, producing unnecessary indecision and anxiety.

The problem is not with the traditional concepts and language, but with us and our mindset.

Shaped by the modern sensibility of intense self-consciousness, and by the consumer culture’s obsession with options and the “pursuit of happiness,” we think too much about ourselves and our preferences. Often, we are looking for the wrong things in a vocation. And we approach the discernment of our calling in a correspondingly wrong way.

This is true across the board: with regard to choices like marriage and work, just as for consecrated religious vocations and the priesthood. In all these areas, we invest the idea of a vocation with expectations our forebears did not have. We think that discernment consists in figuring out whether those expectations will be met. Then we become frustrated when no option seems to fit the bill.

Our expectations are wrong. Consciously or not, we sometimes expect a vocation to solve all of our problems, answer all of our questions, and satisfy all of our desires. But these are not the purposes of a vocation. Discernment, likewise, does not consist in finding the choice that will meet those expectations.

Your vocation will not live up to these unrealistic hopes. Nothing in this world will answer all your questions, solve all your problems, or satisfy all your desires. These are impossible, immature ambitions, and the spiritual life consists largely in realizing that they are impossible and immature.

The purpose of life is the unitive devotional service of God, which includes the love of our neighbor (in whom God dwells). This is the real purpose of any vocation. Some forms of life, such as monasticism, are ordered directly to this end; other states of life are oriented toward it indirectly. But these are only different versions of the one human vocation: to love and serve God, and become one with him in Christ.

A vocation – any vocation – is a school of charity and a means of crucifixion. Your vocation is the means by which your self-serving ego will die in order to be resurrected as the servant and lover of God. This is all that we can expect; but this is everything – the meaning of life, all there really is.

My vocation is where I will learn to let go of my questions, carry the cross of my problems, and be mysteriously fulfilled even when I am not happy. We have some choice as to how we will undergo that process; we do not – so long as we abide in the grace of God – get to choose whether we will undergo it.

This, it seems to me, is the attitude we should bring to discernment. I am not choosing between makes and models in a store, looking for the perfect fit or the best value. One is faced, rather, with the question: How I should lose my life, in order to save it? (Luke 9:24)


Of all the wrong expectations that we bring to vocational discernment, perhaps the most pernicious is the expectation that “everything will finally make sense.” We imagine that our true calling, when we find it, will bring a kind of total coherence and resolution to our fragmentary, broken, unresolved lives.

Modern life – with its combination of extreme intensity and instability – promotes both the inner fragmentation of the psyche, and the intense self-focus that makes such fragmentation especially painful. Naturally, we want the pieces to be put back together, the loose ends tied up. But we cannot expect this in the course of our present, earthly lives.

To be sure, a true vocation will have a certain coherence about it: one will understand his task, his direction, in a new way. He will have a degree of clarity, at least regarding which route he is to take on the pilgrimage toward his ultimate destination.

But it is a trap – and perhaps a very common one – to think that my vocation will sort out and join together all the scattered puzzle-pieces of my life, healing all the inner disintegration and painful incoherence of my past, present, and future. Your vocation will not cause life to make sense in that way.

Discernment is not about finding the hidden, magic key that will unlock your life and solve the riddle of your being. When you figure out what you ought to do with your life, and begin to do it, you will be just as much a mystery to yourself as you are now. Your daily confusions, recurring frustrations, and deep puzzlements will remain. Life, even life illumined by faith, will be an enigma – at least as much as before.

This is how things must be for us on earth. Things will be different only in the world to come: where we will see clearly what we now see only “through a glass, darkly” (1 Cor. 13:12), where my secret and eternal name – which I do not even know yet – will be given to me (Rev. 2:17). Your vocation is not the answer to the question of your being; it is only a part of God’s pledge that the answer will be given in the end.

Nor will your vocation heal the deep sense of incompleteness and longing that you feel. This is critical to realize. Many people fail in their vocation – perhaps especially in the vocation of marriage – because they expect their life’s calling to satisfy, or at least take away, the impossible and inexpressible longing that lies within them: that strange mix of awe and desire and sadness before the mystery of existence.

But your vocation, whatever it may be, cannot do that either. That longing is ours as long as we are in this world. We must bear it, and let it become a “vacancy for God.”
All of this – the sadness and perplexity of life – will accompany you in your vocation. It will exist, with no contradiction, alongside the joy and truth of the Gospel. It is what we must suffer until we are fully united with God in eternity.

But that union must begin here and now, if it is to occur at all. Your vocation, in the end, is simply the means by which you will allow it to occur.

“There’s no escaping yourself,” conventional wisdom says. That is perhaps half-true, at least in the order of nature. But it is not true in the order of grace. There, God provides an escape, or something better than an escape: a transcendence that preserves all our natural gifts, while taking our focus off of ourselves. We remain ourselves; but our focus simply rests on the Lord – “everywhere present and filling all things.”

Then we have escaped: we no longer look at ourselves, anxiously or pridefully or in any other way, beyond the bare and necessary minimum. We simply look upon Christ, and on our neighbor with whom he identifies himself. (Paradoxically, it is only then – when we have almost completely forgotten ourselves – that we see ourselves rightly, and know who we really are.)
But that is the only escape there is. You cannot take a shortcut simply by getting married, or becoming a missionary, or changing careers, or joining a monastery. Such choices must be made, and such responsibilities embraced; but they will not, in themselves, provide any escape from ourselves. These external situations are only necessary means, the circumstances in which our liberation becomes possible.

You will enter into a new state of life, your chosen and God-given vocation; and yet, because you have not been radically renewed, you will experience it as largely familiar once the novelty has worn off.

Someday this will not be the case: you will be changed, if you persevere. But this change in you will not occur through the mere changing of circumstances. They will reshape you – God will reshape you, through them – over the course of years.

Slowly, you will be freed from the trap of selfishness in which you were born. In the school of your vocation, Christ will teach you to forget your wants, and even your needs, for the sake of the charity that “seeks not its own” (1 Cor. 13:5).

No matter what calling you embrace, your vocation must be your means of letting Jesus into your life completely, learning to love God more than yourself.

This does not mean fixating on a sentimental idea, or worshiping an enthroned mental abstraction. It means living in the fullness of Reality: recognizing and loving the Lord who is absolutely transcendent yet totally present, the Son of God who “plays in ten thousand places, / Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his / To the Father through the features of men’s faces” (G.M. Hopkins).

That one of these faces should be your own, and that the light of your eyes should be the light of Christ living within you: this is the goal of your vocation, whatever it may be.

But you will not reach that goal by ordinary human means: not by the calculation, strategy, and careful hedging of bets that seem – but only seem – to make the world go around.
The central question in discernment is: How shall I die with Christ, to rise with him? How will I lose my life to find it? What will bring me to the point where I can say, with St. Paul: “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me”?

Such thinking is more than countercultural; it goes beyond our natural inclinations. But this is the perspective of the Gospel, the self-emptying attitude of Christ that should also be in us. And it is the only mindset by which we can revive three vocations – marriage, consecrated life, and the priesthood – that are currently in trouble.

(Image from ​https://www.flickr.com/photos/ms_bracken/5913757200)

by armaghpriest.com on February 15th, 2017

From January 13th 2017:
The preparatory document for the next synod was launched by the Vatican today, together with a letter from Pope Francis to young people calling for them to make their voices heard in the run-up to October 2018.

The lineamenta, or preparatory document, entitled ‘Young People, Faith and Vocational Discernment’, makes clear that the Church will for the first time be inviting young people — defined in the document as aged 16 to 29 — to help the Church work out effective ways of evangelizing in today’s world.

The Church has decided to “examine herself on how she can lead young people to recognize and accept the call to the fullness of life and love,” but also to “ask young people to help her in identifying the most effective ways to announce the Good News today,” the document says.
“By listening to young people, the Church will once again hear the Lord speaking in today’s world. Listening to their aspirations, the Church can glimpse the world which lies ahead and the paths the Church is called to follow.”

The Vatican also released the text of a short letter addressed to young people by Pope Francis in which he quotes the Rule of St Benedict, founder of western monasticism, in which he urges abbots to consult young people prior to any important decision, because  “the Lord often reveals to the younger what is best.”

“The Church also wishes to listen to your voice, your sensitivities and your faith; even your doubts and your criticism,” Francis says in the letter, adding: “Make your voice heard, let it resonate in communities and let it be heard by your shepherds of souls.”
By listening carefully to what young people are saying to the Church, the synod hopes to develop new strategies for helping them discern their future.

The preparatory document invites a three-stage reflection:
 - an analysis of the social and cultural dynamics of contemporary society,
- a review of the basic process of discernment,
 - and a vocational programme for youth.

It concludes with a series of questions for discussion in the local Church, leading eventually to submissions in advance of the synod.

For the first time the synod will also launch a website in March that will question young people directly about their own expectations, feeding the answers into the working document for the bishops gathered in Rome in October 2018.

Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, the synod’s general secretary, said in a press conference today that he wants responses to the questions by the end of October in order to prepare a working document for the Synod in early 2018.


Text of Pope Francis’s letter.
My Dear Young People,

I am pleased to announce that in October 2018 a Synod of Bishops will take place to treat the topic: “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment.” I wanted you to be the centre of attention, because you are in my heart. Today, the Preparatory Document is being presented, a document which I am also entrusting to you as your “compass” on this synodal journey.

I am reminded of the words which God spoke to Abraham: “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.” (Gen 12.1). These words are now also addressed to you. They are words of a Father who invites you to “go”, to set out towards a future which is unknown but one which will surely lead to fulfilment, a future towards which He Himself accompanies you. I invite you to hear God’s voice resounding in your heart through the breath of the Holy Spirit.

When God said to Abram, “Go!”, what did he want to say? He certainly did not say to distance himself from his family or withdraw from the world. Abram received a compelling invitation, a challenge, to leave everything and go to a new land. What is this “new land” for us today, if not a more just and friendly society which you, young people, deeply desire and wish to build to the very ends of the earth?

But unfortunately, today, “Go!” also has a different meaning, namely, that of abuse of power, injustice and war. Many among you are subjected to the real threat of violence and forced to flee their native land. Their cry goes up to God, like that of Israel, when the people were enslaved and oppressed by Pharaoh (cf. Ex 2:23).

I would also remind you of the words that Jesus once said to the disciples who asked him: “Teacher […] where are you staying?” He replied, “Come and see” (Jn 1:38). Jesus looks at you and invites you to go with him. Dear young people, have you noticed this look towards you? Have you heard this voice? Have you felt this urge to undertake this journey? I am sure that, despite the noise and confusion seemingly prevalent in the world, this call continues to resonate in the depths of your heart so as to open it to joy in its fullness. This will be possible to the extent that, even with professional guides, you will learn how to undertake a journey of discernment to discover God’s plan in your life. Even when the journey is uncertain and you fall, God, rich in mercy, will extend his hand to pick you up.

In Krakow, at the opening of the last World Youth Day, I asked you several times: “Can we change things?” And you shouted: “yes!”. That shout came from your young and youthful hearts, which do not tolerate injustice and cannot bow to a “throw-away culture” nor give in to the globalization of indifference. Listen to the cry arising from your inner selves! Even when you feel, like the prophet Jeremiah, the inexperience of youth, God encourages you to go where He sends you: “Do not be afraid, […], because I am with you to deliver you” (Jer 1:8).

A better world can be built also as a result of your efforts, your desire to change and your generosity. Do not be afraid to listen to the Spirit who proposes bold choices; do not delay when your conscience asks you to take risks in following the Master.

The Church also wishes to listen to your voice, your sensitivities and your faith; even your doubts and your criticism. Make your voice heard, let it resonate in communities and let it be heard by your shepherds of souls. St. Benedict urged the abbots to consult, even the young, before any important decision, because “the Lord often reveals to the younger what is best.” (Rule of St. Benedict, III, 3).

Such is the case, even in the journey of this Synod. My brother bishops and I want even more to “work with you for your joy” (2 Cor 1:24). I entrust you to Mary of Nazareth, a young person like yourselves, whom God beheld lovingly, so she might take your hand and guide you to the joy of fully and generously responding to God’s call with the words: “Here I am” (cf. Lk 1:38).

With paternal affection,
FRANCIS



(Original article appeared here: 
​http://www.romereports.com/2017/01/13/pope-francis-letter-to-young-people;

Image of Pope with Young People from:
http://www.ascend.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Pope_Francis_Young_People.jpg

Pope Quote: ​https://www.pinterest.com/pin/293789575663499744/)



by armaghpriest.com on February 10th, 2017

​Homily for Good Shepherd Sunday, Fourth Sunday of Easter Year B, 
St Mary's Cathedral, Sydney, 26th April 2015


Before conferring Confirmation, I like where possible to visit the children in a parish, introduce myself and playfully interrogate them on what they understand about the sacrament they are soon to receive. On one occasion, on my way into one of our primary schools, a tiny-tot saw I was unusually dressed and asked what I was. "I'm the bishop," I explained, to which he responded quick-as-a-flash, "Are you a chess piece?"

Often on such occasions I bring props, including my mitre and crozier, to help explain what on earth I am. When I ask the children what my pastoral staff is, I am reminded how very old I seem to them, as some suggest it's my walking stick. Usually, however, some smart kid identifies it a shepherd's staff. When one now-retired auxiliary bishop asked why he had one of those, a child answered "Because you are Little Bow Peep!"

Well, in case you are wondering, I'm not! But I am a shepherd in some sense. What might the stick say about that? For drovers the crooked end is used for catching straying sheep around the neck, especially those caught in a hard place and lifting them to safety; the pointed finial, on the other hand, is used to goad reluctant sheep in the right direction; and the rod in between is a solid support useful in fights with wolves, dingoes and robbers.

When a bishop carries such an item, it is a reminder of his pastoral office:
that it is his responsibility to encourage people in the right direction,
to goad the spiritually lazy,
to draw back those who stray,
o defend all from spiritual attack and to be their strong support.

A bishop normally uses the crozier only in his own diocese, as it is about the relationship he has to a particular flock.

It is interesting that the shepherd's crook caught on as the symbol for bishops rather than, say, a fishing rod or net - fishing is, after all, another New Testament metaphor for apostolate; or a rod or whip - after all, the Greek work ἐðßóêïðïò refers to the overseer who keeps the labourers working; or keys, since bishops share with the Pope the role of unlocking the mysteries, binding and losing by teaching and judging. No, bishops carry a shepherd's crook, to evoke the image of Christ the Good Shepherd.
      

What might we say about this way of imaging Christ and those who act on His behalf? In today's Gospel (Jn 10:11-18) John contrasts the shepherd with the hireling. The hired man is just doing a job and gives it up if the work is too arduous or risky. The shepherd, on the other hand, is invested in the sheep: he knows them (and they know him), he cares about them. What's more, the employee decides whether he wants to do this work and on what terms; but for the appointed shepherd it is a calling. Though he has to decide whether to respond or not, he doesn't make the call or set the terms. As Jesus explains today, in freely laying down His life, He is responding in love to "the command of my Father". We pick our jobs but our vocations pick us.


What else does our pastoral allegory reveal? The shepherd is supposed to put the good of his flock first, to make their unity, direction and flourishing his priority. This is why people are so disappointed with the misconduct of some clergy and the failure of supervision by some leaders: we are appalled by the evil done to the victims, and doubly appalled that it was done by guys with such a sacred trust. Some say the Catholic clergy have received disproportionate scrutiny in these matters compared to others; that the Catholic laity have had their noses rubbed in this again and again when it was none of their fault; that most of this is ugly history from decades ago and that we've cleaned up our act in the meantime. While I understand this frustration, nonetheless I accpt that we must hear the anger in our community at our failings as a Church, repent with all our hearts, learn all we can from this, do all we can to bring justice, compassion and healing to victims, and ensure such things are never repeated. We must ensuring that the sheep, and especially the lambs, are 100% safe from wolves in shepherds' clothing. That people are appalled by failures in this area is as it should be; indeed, it is the community acting as a crook, lifting the Church out of trouble, and as a crozier point, goading the Church forward in the right direction. 

The shepherds of the Church - bishops and clergy - must be images of the Good Shepherd. Easter celebrates that Christ laid down His life for His sheep, as He's said He would; that He did indeed put Himself last and His flock first. In the process He changed what it meant to belong to His flock. We are not just dumb followers anymore, ready to be fleeced or butchered at the owner's convenience: no, we have become the sheep Jesus loves, the beloved, and that is very different to the usual relationship between farmer and herd. We have become the sheep with whom He shares the Resurrection, immortals like Him, with dignity and destiny. And in becoming our Easter Shepherd Jesus has changed not only what it means to be one of His sheep but also what it means to be one of His shepherds. For a bishop or priest to be a Good Shepherd, a shepherd like him, is to be ready to give his all for his people, as Christ did.
   

Of course, all the priestly people of God share in the dignity and destiny of sheep and shepherds. But we need wise, compassionate, self-sacrificing, holy priests to hook and prod, defend and strengthen us. On this World Day of Prayer for Vocations I say: yes, I am sickened and ashamed and, on behalf of the Church of Sydney, I repent of the failures of some of our pastors; but I also want to acknowledge that the great majority of our clergy are generous, God-loving, flock-loving men, who would never dream of abusing their office or their little ones. At the Chrism Mass on Holy Thursday our priests renewed their priestly promises, declaring that they are resolved to be more closely conformed to Christ, denying self and joyfully embracing once more their calling: to be faithful stewards of the mysteries, authentic teachers of sacred doctrine, pastors moved only by a zeal for the souls. Then I asked our lay people present:

As for you, dearest sons and daughters, pray for your priests, 
that the Lord may pour out his gifts abundantly upon them, and keep them faithful as ministers of Christ, the High Priest, so that they may lead you to Him,
who is the source of salvation.
Finally I asked our lay people to 
Pray also for me, that I may be faithful to the apostolic office 
entrusted to me in my lowliness 
and that in your midst I may be made day by day
a living and more perfect image of Christ, the Priest, 
the Good Shepherd, the Teacher and Servant of all.


Dare I ask you again, dear friends, on this Good Shepherd Sunday, to pray for your pastors? Pray also that the Church is graced with a new generation of happy and holy priests who will rebuild the trust our priests deserve and the confidence our people deserve, who will take our Church forward with Christ and with you in the decades ahead!

Word after Communion for Good Shepherd Sunday, Fourth Sunday of Easter Year B, 
St Mary's Cathedral, Sydney, 26th April 2015

Today we have celebrated Good Shepherd Sunday and the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. Please keep praying for vocations to the priesthood and to all Christian states of life. To our young people I say: ask yourselves whether your own temperament, gifts and ideals might well be put to such service. Open your hearts to that possibility in prayer and sacrament, seeking God's will for you and the courage to pursue it. Do not be afraid to give your lives to Christ: He is the one who knows your deepest hopes and dreams and desires - and He wants to give you a joyful and abundant life. Pray for the grace to know and love and serve Him best in this life, that you may draw many to be with Him in the next!


Source:  ​http://sydneycatholic.org/people/archbishop/homilies/2015/2015426_1037.shtml
Image: ​http://www.parra.catholic.org.au/_resources/bishop-anthony-homilies-pic-1.jpg


by armaghpriest.com on February 9th, 2017

With thanks to Diocese of Orange Vocations: ​https://www.youtube.com/user/orangevocations

by armaghpriest.com on February 8th, 2017

​“My son, a priest!? Won’t he be lonely? What about celibacy? Isn’t he too young? I just want him to be happy!”

These and dozens of other questions and concerns are common among parents of would-be priests.

With his gift for storytelling and down-to-earth wisdom, Fr. Brett Brannen addresses a wide range of issues in A Priest in the Family: A Guide for Parents Whose Sons are Considering Priesthood.

Like his previous book, To Save a Thousand Souls, Fr. Brannen’s new book for parents is filled with humor, anecdotes, and dramatic stories from his own life as a priest.

In twelve short, easy-to-read chapters, he explains priesthood, seminary, celibacy, and how a man discerns his vocation—all while keeping in mind parents’ legitimate concerns.

Readers have praised A Priest in the Family as an entertaining read that manages to allay parents’ fears and show them how to support their son, while offering a few laughs and a dose of inspiration along the way.

(Image and content taken from 
​https://www.vianneyvocations.com/product/a-priest-in-the-family/)


by armaghpriest.com on February 7th, 2017

With thanks to ​Darrell Boeck

by armaghpriest.com on February 6th, 2017


The priesthood of Christ was at the centre of the Pope’s homily (on Monday 23rd January 2017). His reflection was taken from the day’s first Reading, from the Letter of Hebrews, which speaks about Christ as the Mediator of the Covenant God has made with human beings. Jesus is the High Priest, and the priesthood of Christ is the great wonder, the greatest wonder, which makes us sing a new song to the Lord, as the Responsorial Psalm says.

The three stages of the priesthood of Christ: He offers Himself; He intercedes for us; He will return to bring us to the Father

The priesthood of Christ takes place in three stages, the Pope said. The first is the redemption: while the priests of the Old Covenant had to offer sacrifices every year, “Christ offered Himself, once for all, for the forgiveness of sins.” With this marvel, “He has brought us to the Father… He has re-created the harmony of creation,” the Pope noted. The second wonder is what the Lord is doing now – that is, praying for us. “While we pray here, He is praying for us” “for each one of us,” Pope Francis emphasized: “now, living, before the Father, He intercedes,” so that the faith might not falter. How often, in fact, are priests asked to pray, the Pope said, because “we know that the prayer of the priest has a certain force, especially in the sacrifice of the Mass.” The third wonder will be when Christ returns; but this third time will not be in relation to sin, but rather, it will be “to establish the definitive Kingdom,” when He will bring all of us to the Father:

“There is this great wonder, this priesthood of Jesus in three stages – that in which He pardons sins, once for all; that in which He intercedes now for us; and that which will occur when He returns. But there is also the contrary: the ‘unforgivable blasphemy.’ It’s hard to hear Jesus saying these things, but He says it, and if He says it, it is true. ‘Amen I say to you, all will be forgiven the children of men’ – and we know that the Lord forgives everything if we open our hearts a bit. Everything! The sins and even the blasphemies they speak – even blasphemies will be pardoned! – but the one who will have blasphemed the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven in eternity.”

“The unforgivable blasphemy”: blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, will not allow itself to be forgiven

To explain this, the Pope referred to the great priestly anointing of Jesus, which the Holy Spirit accomplished in the womb of Mary; as priests, in the ceremony of ordination, are anointed with oil:

“Even Jesus as the High Priest received this anointing. And what was the first anointing? The flesh of Mary with the work of the Holy Spirit. And he who blasphemes about this, blasphemes about the foundation of the love of God, which is the redemption, the re-creation; blasphemy about the priesthood of Christ. ‘But the Lord does not forgive that wickedness?’ [you might ask]. ‘No! The Lord forgives everything!’ But one who says these things is closed to forgiveness. He doesn’t want to be forgiven! He doesn’t allow himself to be forgiven! This is the ugliness of the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit: It does not allow itself to be forgiven, because it denies the priestly anointing of Jesus, accomplished by the Spirit.”

Do not close your heart before the wonders of the priesthood of Christ

In conclusion, the Pope returned to the great wonders of the priesthood of Christ, and also to the “unforgivable blasphemy” – unforgivable “not because the Lord does not want to forgive everything, but because this [person] is so closed that he does not allow himself to be forgiven: the blasphemy against this wonder of Jesus”:

Today it would be good for us, during the Mass, to consider that here on the altar the living memorial is made – because He will be present here – of the first priesthood of Jesus, when He offers His life for us. There is also the living memorial of the second priesthood, because He will pray here. But also, in this Mass – we will say it after the Our Father – there is that third priesthood of Jesus, when He will return, and [that is] our hope of glory. In this Mass, let us think about these beautiful things. And let us ask for grace from the Lord that our hearts might never be closed – might never be closed! – to this wonder, to this great, freely-given wonder.”

(Article and image first appeared on 23rd January 2017 at http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2017/01/23/pope_francis_the_wonders_of_the_priesthood_of_christ/1287607)


by armaghpriest.com on January 31st, 2017

​Pope Francis celebrated Mass in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta on Friday morning, focusing his remarks following the readings of the day on the need for priests to serve as authentic mediators of God’s love, rather than as intermediaries – “go-betweens” or “middle-men” – concerned  only with advancing their own interests.

No to “go-between” priests, yest to priests who are mediators of God’s love

The role of the mediator is not that of the intermediary – and priests are called to be the former for their flock:

“The mediator gives himself (lit. perde se stesso) to unite the parties, he gives his life. That is the price: his life – he pays with his life, his fatigue, his work, so many things, but – in this case the pastor - to unite the flock, to unite people, to bring them to Jesus. The logic of Jesus as mediator is the logic of annihilating oneself. St. Paul in his Letter to the Philippians is clear on this: ‘He annihilated himself, emptied himself, and to achieve this union, [he did so] even unto death, death on a cross. That is the logic: to empty oneself, to annihilate oneself.”
The priest who abandons the task of being a mediator and instead prefers to be an intermediary si unhappy, and soon becomes sad – and he will seek happiness in vaunting himself and making his “authority” felt.

Rigidity brings us to push away people who seek consolation

Jesus had a powerful message for the “go-betweens” of his day, who enjoyed to stroll the squares to be seen:
“But to make themselves important, intermediary priests must take the path of rigidity: often disconnected from the people, they do not know what human suffering is; they forget what they had learned at home, with dad’s work, with mom’s, grandfather’s, grandmother’s, his brothers’ ... They lose these things. They are rigid, [they are] those rigid ones that load upon the faithful so many things that they do not carry [themselves], as Jesus said to the intermediaries of his time: rigidity. [They face] the people of God with a switch in their hand: ‘This cannot be, this cannot be ...’. And so many people approaching, looking for a bit of consolation, a little understanding, are chased away with this rigidity.”

When a rigid, worldly priest becomes a functionary, he ends up making himself ridiculous

Rigidity – which wrecks one’s interior life and even psychic balance – goes hand-in-glove with worldliness:

“About rigidity and worldliness, it was some time ago that an elderly monsignor of the curia came to me, who works, a normal man, a good man, in love with Jesus – and he told me that he had gone to buy a couple of shirts at Euroclero [the clerical clothing store] and saw a young fellow - he thinks he had not more than 25 years, or a young priest or about to become a priest - before the mirror, with a cape, large, wide, velvet, with a silver chain. He then took the Saturno [wide-brimmed clerical headgear], he put it on and looked himself over. A rigid and worldly one. And that priest – he is wise, that monsignor, very wise - was able to overcome the pain, with a line of healthy humor and added: ‘And it is said that the Church does not allow women priests!’. Thus, does the work that the priest does when he becomes a functionary ends in the ridiculous, always.”

You can recognize a good priest by whether he knows how to play with children

“In the examination of conscience,” Pope Francis said, “consider this: today was I a functionary or a mediator? Did I look after myself, did I look to my own comfort, my own comfort, or did I spend the day in the service of others?” The Pope went on to say, “Once, a person told me how he knew what kind of priest a man was by the attitude they had with children: if they knew how to caress a child, to smile at a child, to play with a child ... It is interesting, that, because it means that they know this means lowering oneself, getting close to the little things.” Rather, said Pope Francis, “the go-between is sad, always with that sad face or the too serious, dark face. The intermediary has the dark eyes, very dark! The mediator is open: the smile, the warmth, the understanding, the caresses.”

St. Polycarp, St. Francis Xavier, St. Paul: three icons of the mediator-priest

In the final part of the homily the Pope then brought three “icons” of “mediator-priests and not intermediaries.” The first is the great Polycarp, who “does not negotiate his vocation and is brave all the way to the pyre, and when the fire is around him, the faithful who were there, they smelled the aroma of bread.”

“This,” he said, is how a mediator makes his end: as a piece of bread for his faithful.” Another icon is St. Francis Xavier, who died young on the beach of Shangchuan, “looking toward China” where he wanted to go but could not because the Lord took him to Himself. And then, the last icon: the elderly St. Paul at the Three Fountains. “Early that morning,” Pope Francis reminded those gathered for Mass, “the soldiers went to him, they got him, and he walked bent over.” He knew that that was because of the treachery of some in the Christian community but he had struggled so much, so much in his life, that he offered himself to the Lord as a sacrifice.”
“Three icons,” he concluded, “that can help us. Look there: how I want to end my life as a priest? As a functionary, as an intermediary, or as a mediator, that is, on the cross?”

(This article and image appeared at ​http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2016/12/09/pope_francis_rigidity,_worldliness_a_disaster_for_priests/1277926)

by armaghpriest.com on January 29th, 2017

​“God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong.”

God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called.

Could He be calling you?

Call us!

​http://www.armaghpriest.com/contact.htm

by armaghpriest.com on January 17th, 2017

From CNA:​

Claude Paradis was impoverished and homeless, living on the streets of Montreal, Canada. He struggled with addiction to both alcohol and drugs, with a future so bleak, he considered ending his own life.

He did not end his life, however, and today he is a priest who dedicates his time to serving the physical and spiritual needs of those trapped in poverty, prison and prostitution. 

“The street brought me to the Church and the Church in the end brought me back to the street,” the priest told the Journal Metro.

This past December, as a sign of his closeness and solidarity with the homeless, Fr. Paradis decided to sleep on the street for the whole month, to care for the homeless people there with solidarity and charity.


His hope was that he could accompany people in a difficult situation while also making the citizens of Montreal aware of the harsh reality faced by those living on the street. Fr. Paradi founded an institution called Notre-Dame-de-la-rue (Our Lady of the Street). Each night, he goes out to bring food and shelter to those living on the streets. He also administers the sacraments, celebrates the Eucharist and even presides at funerals.

The priest is accompanied by one of his co-workers, Kevin Cardin, who also was addicted to drugs, but found help, changed his life and now has a family. Notre-Dame-de-la-rue has the support of the Archbishop Christian Lépine of Montreal, who has described the initiative as “a presence of the Church to give encouragement.” It also has the support of the city.

“Our mission is especially to give encouragement. Unlike the shelters, we go out to the people, a bit like a door-to-door service. We talk to them, sometimes we pray together before they go back to face the harshness of the street.”

Fr. Paradis knows how hard life on the street is. After growing up in the Gaspé region and working in Cowansville as a nurse, he came to Montreal 25 years ago. However, he was unable to find a job. “Isolation and despair took hold of me,” he said. Living on the street, he thought about committing suicide. “I started doing cocaine and then crack,” he recalled.


In a letter posted on the website of La Victoire de l'Amour (the Victory of Love), Fr. Paradis tells how he met the Lord.

“I had the privilege of meeting God just at the moment I was doubting Him. On a little back street in Montreal, abandoned by people, there was nobody there. Passing by the old church, impelled by I don't know what instinct, I turned back in there.”

At that moment, he had a deep and intense encounter with God. He realized he did not want to die, but rather wanted to become “a man of the Church.” 

Fr. Paradis went on to fight his addictions and now ministers to many people who face the same challenges he struggled with years ago. The 57-year-old priest has dedicated the rest of his life to serving the poor, saying “on the street is where I want to be, until I die.”



(Source of story and image: ​http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/from-addiction-to-ordination-a-homeless-mans-journey-to-priesthood-17926/)

by armaghpriest.com on January 15th, 2017

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