armaghpriest
by armaghpriest.com on May 6th, 2018

​In this #MonthOfMay, why not join us in our daily Rosary prayer for those discerning the call to priesthood? Today's prayer is the 2nd Glorious Mystery: The Ascension. #BeAnArmaghPriest 

by armaghpriest.com on May 5th, 2018

​Today's Rosary prayer for those discerning the call to priesthood : the 1st Joyful Mystery: The Annunciation 

by armaghpriest.com on May 4th, 2018

6th May: Sixth Sunday of Easter
For all those chosen by the Lord to go and bear fruit as priests and in the consecrated life, that they will respond to His love with conviction in their vocations…
 
13th May: The Ascension of the Lord
For those discerning the call to priesthood: that they may know that they are being called to be faithful witnesses of God’s presence in the world…
 
20th May: Pentecost Sunday
That through union with the Blessed Virgin Mary, in whose company the Apostles received the Holy Spirit, men and women will receive the grace to respond to Christ’s call to follow Him as priests and in the consecrated life…
 
27th May: The Most Holy Trinity
That the mystery of the love of the Blessed Trinity, manifest in the gift of Jesus Christ, will strengthen many men and women to respond to that love as priests and in the consecrated life…
 
3rd June: The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi)
For a growing trust in the presence of the Lord in His call among men and women being chosen to serve Him and His Church as priests and in the consecrated life…

by armaghpriest.com on May 4th, 2018

​Please join us in this #MonthOfMay to pray a decade of the #Rosary each day for those discerning the call to #priesthood Today: the 2nd Sorrowful Mystery: The #Scourging

by armaghpriest.com on May 3rd, 2018

​Today's #Rosary prayer for those discerning the call to #priesthood #MonthOfMay #BeAnArmaghPriest 

by armaghpriest.com on May 2nd, 2018

​Please join us in this #MonthOfMay to pray a decade of the #Rosary each day for those discerning the call to #priesthood 

Today: the 1st Glorious Mystery: The #Resurrection 
 

by armaghpriest.com on May 1st, 2018

​Every day in this #MonthOfMay, we'll be posting a #Rosary prayer for those discerning the call to #priesthood. Please do join us!

Today: the 1st Sorrowful Mystery. With thanks to @VianneyVocation 

by armaghpriest.com on April 24th, 2018

Homily of Archbishop Eamon Martin, Archbishop of Armagh,  for the Mass of Chrism in 2018.


​​
I remember the way my mother used to vigorously wash my hair over the sink in the kitchen until I squirmed – scrubbing away the badness!  But for all the discomfort of it, I think of it now, just a week after her death, cherishing that moment of intimacy.
The poet Seamus Heaney, at his mother’s deathbed, savoured the memory of peeling spuds with her while all the others were away at Mass – her head bent towards his, their breaths mingling, ‘never closer the whole rest of our lives’.

The Gospels tell of similar intimate moments.  In John’s Gospel, just days before his burial, Mary of Bethany tenderly anoints the feet of Jesus with costly ointment, wiping them with her hair until the house is filled with its sweet perfume.  A similar moment is recounted by Saint Luke, when a so-called “sinful woman” provokes disdain by kissing the feet of Jesus, washing them with her tears and wiping them dry with her hair. On that occasion, Jesus rebukes his host, Simon the Pharisee, for complaining about the woman, pointing instead to her gratitude for God’s mercy and forgiveness – ‘You gave me no kiss of welcome, or water to wash my feet when I arrived; you did not pour oil on my head … I tell you her many sins have been forgiven – that’s why she has shown such great love’ (see Lk7:47).

This Holy Thursday afternoon we will recall the moving moment at the Last Supper when Jesus girded himself with a towel, poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet – another moment of intimacy, humble service and mercy.  Jesus was setting an example: “If I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet … what will mark you out as my followers is the love you have for one another (Jn13:14)”.

In a few moments we will have an opportunity to renew our commitment to priesthood.  The saintly Cure of Ars once remarked that the priesthood is “the love of the heart of Jesus”.  Likewise, Pope Francis identifies the love and mercy of Jesus as the pastoral “starting point” for priestly ministry: “the Church must accompany with attention and care the weakest of her children, who show signs of a wounded and troubled love, by restoring in them hope and confidence … (RS201428)”.

My brother priests I know how much you dedicate yourselves to walking with your people.  In the daily struggles of family life, when God’s people worry and hurt, you are there with them, loving them, soothing them, offering the light of Christ to the moments of darkness and confusion in their lives.

At a personal level, in recent weeks my family and I have experienced first-hand the comforting pastoral presence and prayers of priests – especially during my mother’s final illness, and last week at her wake and funeral.  Thank you.  I know that your priestly ministry brings you face to face with many situations like this, and often with the terrible traumas that afflict life in the twenty-first century.  You suffer with so many families at times of sudden loss.  You are often among the first on the scene of car accidents or fires; you accompany grieving parishioners, sometimes in heart-breaking moments when children or young people have died tragically.  In all these situations, with hands anointed by Chrism on the day of your ordination, you seek to bring the compassionate and healing touch of Christ, kneeling to lovingly pour out the balm of love, mercy and forgiveness just as Jesus did when he washed the feet of his disciples.

To minister like this is not easy; it can take its toll on any of us, for we too are human, often yearning ourselves for closeness, love, tenderness and friendship.  Today I exhort you, my dear brothers to please take care of your own health and well-being. You have been generous in answering God’s call to serve, and in remaining committed to your priestly promises over many years.  But there are times when we all need help, and priests are no exception.

Just as many of our people struggle in this fast-paced, relentless and demanding world, we too are fragile at times; the challenges that affect our people affect us too!

Some of our brother priests struggle with illness, loneliness, or the increased frailty of old age.  Priests also can have their personal disappointments, can fail to cope with criticism or fear of the unknown.

In all these circumstances it is important, as Pope Francis says, not to be robbed of hope or the joy of the Gospel.  Our formation encouraged us to develop and sustain an intimate friendship with Jesus through prayer, spiritual direction, regular Confession, recollection and retreats and to build a close fraternity with our brother priests.

It is easy, however, to drift away from the security of these supports, thinking that we can go it alone, like isolated ‘lone rangers’. Believe me, my brothers, we will fall; we are only human.  We are just as susceptible, as the people we serve, to the cycle of dependency and addiction that lurks beneath the seductive allure of alcohol, drugs, social media and the internet, all of which can promise false and fleeting pleasure, shallow superficial intimacy, while carrying a deadly sting in the tail.

We must not think we have always to be in control, always to be ‘the fixers’, the ones with all the answers, forgetting that we too are human; we have our own sinfulness, vulnerabilities and needs.  It is not a sign of weakness as a priest to admit that you sometimes fail, or need help and accompaniment.  Sometimes it is our feet that need to be washed, our heads that yearn for anointing, our troubles that crave the soothing balm of understanding.

Do not be like Simon Peter at the Last Supper when Jesus approached him with the basin and towel, crying out – never Lord, you will never wash my feet!

My brothers, look for help when you need it.  Be open to receiving help from a friend, a counsellor or mentor, a therapist or sponsor, especially when you find yourself drifting from the warmth of Christ’s loving embrace towards the cruel clutches of the Evil One.

Surround yourselves with good and trusted friends and family.  Feel the warmth and supportive closeness of your faithful people, who gather with you for Eucharist, praying at every Mass for you and your ministry.  Accept their care and welcome their gratitude and appreciation for your ministry among them.

It is important sometimes to admit that, like everyone else, we priests are as much in need of hope and the joy of Christ’s love as those to whom we have the privilege to minister.  That is why at this Chrism Mass I thank God for our faithful people, friends, family and brother priests – like those present with us in the Cathedral today – who “wash our feet” (so to speak), who offer us consolation, loving support and understanding, who stand by us in trials, stay close to us in adversity, and sustain our vocations by their solidarity and forgiveness.

Jesus said, “I give you a new commandment: love one another as I have loved you …What will mark you out as my disciples is the love you have for one another”.  Amen.

by armaghpriest.com on April 22nd, 2018

​On the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, Pope Francis ordained sixteen men to the priesthood, including eleven for the Diocese of Rome. In his homily, based on a pre-set formula for Masses of Ordination, the Holy Father called the new priests to not “grow tired of being merciful.” “Think of your own sins,” he said, “your own miseries, the miseries that Jesus has pardoned. Be merciful!”

The World Day of Prayer for Vocations is observed each year on the Fourth Sunday of Easter, also known as Good Shepherd Sunday. In each of the three annual lectionary cycles, the Fourth Sunday of Easter includes a Gospel focusing on the image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd.

The website for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops notes, “The purpose of the World Day of Prayer for Vocations is to publically fulfill the Lord's instruction to, ‘Pray the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into His harvest’.” The Church fully appreciates all vocations, it notes, but on this Sunday “concentrates its attention" on "vocations to the ordained ministries (priesthood and diaconate), to the Religious life in all its forms (male and female, contemplative and apostolic), to societies of apostolic life, to secular institutes in their diversity of services and membership, and to the missionary life, in the particular sense of mission ‘ad gentes’ [to the nations].”

The sixteen men ordained on Sunday come from all over the world: in addition to five Romans and three Indians, the new priests hail from Croatia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Colombia, El Salvador, Madagascar, Romania, and Peru.

“May your teaching be nourishment to the People of God,” the Pope said, “and the perfume of your life be joy and support to the faithful of Christ.” And, he added, “may your word and example edify the House of God which is the Church.”

Pope Francis encouraged the new priests to be intent on pleasing God alone, rather than themselves or other human persons, or seeking other selfish interests. They should be concerned, he said, only with “service to God, for the good of the holy faithful People of God.”

(Original article appeared on ​https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2018-04/pope-francis-mass-ordination-prayer-vocations.html)

by armaghpriest.com on March 31st, 2018

1st April: Easter Sunday
That more men within our community will joyfully answer the call of the Lord to proclaim His life, death and resurrection as priests…
 
8th April: Second Sunday of Easter
For the holiness of all those called by Jesus to proclaim the victory over the world through faith in Him as His priests…
 
9th April: The Annunciation of the Lord
That those discerning the call to priesthood will answer the Lord’s invitation to them with the same joy and freedom as Mary…
 
15th April: Third Sunday of Easter
For an increased awareness among our young people of the closeness of the Lord in their vocation discernment and their responsibility to recognize and follow Him …
 
22nd April: Fourth Sunday of Easter (Day of Prayer for Vocations to the Priesthood)
For all those discerning the call to lay down their lives as priests, that they will know that they are called to be faithful witnesses to the Good Shepherd in our midst …
 
29th April: Fifth Sunday of Easter
That Catholic parents will abide in the Lord as branches on His vine, cultivating in their children the desire to love Him in truth and action, especially should He call them to be priests and religious…

by armaghpriest.com on March 29th, 2018

Some priests share what moves them during the celebration of this most Sacred Triduum:



​“For me, walking into a dark church during the Easter Vigil Mass with only the lit paschal candle is a special and holy moment. I don’t light peoples’ individual candles until I am halfway into the church. The lit paschal candle is the only light in the church. As that light pierces the darkness of the church, so the Risen Christ pierces the darkness of sin, suffering and death. I always become emotional in this brief moment every Easter Vigil.
— Father Bernard Bourgeois, Rutland, Vermont


“If I had to say what the most moving part for me would be the prostration of the priest on Good Friday. It reminds me of the ordination rite for priests and my pledge of obedience to the Lord that I am a servant of Christ above all else.”
— Father Ken Kolibas, Raritan, New Jersey 


“The Good Friday reading of the Passion and veneration of the cross are the most moving for me, because it reminds me of Our Lord Jesus’ suffering in love for us.”
— Father Adrian Fischer, OFM, Monroe, Louisiana 


“As a newly ordained priest, it really hit me when I washed the feet of 12 men for the first time. It really struck a chord in my heart of how humble it was for Our Lord to show the 12 apostles what true love is all about.”
— Father Neil Pfeifer, Napoleon, North Dakota 


“Renewing the commitment to service and priesthood with the parish community on Holy Thursday. It is a powerful reminder of vocation lived out with the support and prayer of the parish.
— Father Henry Gracz, Atlanta 


“The Easter Matins ceremony when we go from darkness and the quietness of the tomb to the glorious singing of the Easter Matins and the opening of the gates of the icon screen. This ceremony is what happens in the Eastern Catholic Church. After all the darkness, it is the manifestation of what the Lord has done for all.”
— Father Nicholas Daddona, Westbury, New York 


“While there are so many powerful moments of prayer during the sacred Triduum, the most moving part for me is the washing of the feet. It is a truly humbling experience that reminds me that, as priests, we are called to be true servants of the Gospel in imitation of Jesus, who through his ministry gave us the example that we are to follow.”
— Father Steve Jekielek, Tonawanda, New York

(This article first appeared at
 ​https://www.osv.com/Magazines/ThePriest/Article/TabId/716/ArtMID/13683/ArticleID/24144/What-is-the-most-moving-part-of-celebrating-the-sacred-Triduum.aspx

Image is from ​https://mbschurch.org/holy-triduum-easter-event-schedules/)


by armaghpriest.com on March 22nd, 2018

On Friday morning, March 16,the Holy Father received, in Paul VI Hall, priests and seminarians from some 150 Pontifical Colleges and Ecclesiastical Boarding Schools of Rome, accompanied by Cardinal Beniamino Stella, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, who addressed a few words to the Pontiff, reported the Holy See.

The Holy Father then answered five questions on priestly formation and spirituality, posed by representatives of four Continents (Europe, Africa, South America, North America and Asia), stemming from the document Ratio fundmentalis institutionis sacerdotalis, the “Gift of the Presbyterial Vocation,” published by the Roman Dicastery on December 8, 2016. Vatican News offered a synthesis of the questions and the Pope’s answers, pronounced from the fullness of the heart.  

Before the Pontiff’s arrival, the meeting was the occasion for priests and seminarians to pray together and sing songs, one song being dedicated to Blessed Argentine parish priest Brochero, sung by the Argentine Priestly College, reported L’Osservatore Romano.

Never Alone

For the European Continent, a French seminarian asked the Pope how to reconcile the presbyterial ministry with the fact of feeling themselves “disciples and missionaries.”
For the Pope, “the priest must be a man always on the way, a man who listens and is never alone. He must have the humility to be accompanied.”

A second question on discernment was posed by a seminarian of Sudan, for the African Continent.

The Two Conditions of Discernment
The Holy Father highlighted “two conditions” for “a true discernment”: “to do so in prayer before God,” and to consult someone else, a guide capable of listening and of giving guidelines.”

“When there isn’t discernment in priestly life” there is “rigidity and casuistry” and one is “incapable of advancing”, everything “becomes closed” and “the Holy Spirit doesn’t work.” The Pope recommended that priests “take the Holy Spirit as companion on the way,” while remarking that often “one is afraid of the Holy Spirit,” one wants to “put Him in a cage.”

Not Functionaries of the Sacred
A Mexican priest asked the Pope for America, how to safeguard the priest’s balance in the course of life. And the Pope stressed the importance of the priest’s “human formation”: “It’s necessary to be normal human persons capable of laughing, of listening to a sick person in silence, of consoling with a caress. There must be a form of paternity and fruitfulness, which enables one to give life to others. They must be “father priests, and not functionaries of the sacred, or employees of God.”

The Spirituality of the Diocesan Priest
For North America, a United States deacon asked about the traits of the spirituality of the diocesan priest. The Pope answered pointing out the three components of “diocesanite”: to cultivate one’s relation with one’s Bishop, with one’s brother priests, and with the people of the parish, who are his children. “If you work on these three fronts, you will become saints,” said the Pontiff.

An Examination of Conscience
A priest of the Philippines posed for Asia, the question on permanent formation. The Pope recommended to take care of the “human, pastoral, spiritual and communal formation” of the priest. He specified a “permanent formation born from the awareness of his weakness” and that it’s “important to know one’s limitations.” The Holy Father also invited each one to examine how he lives  “virtual communication,” how he “uses his mobile phone,” how he addresses temptations against chastity, which will come inevitably,” and how to be “able to keep oneself from pride, from the attraction of money, of power and of comfort.”

(Original article and image appeared on ​https://zenit.org/articles/pope-points-out-to-priests-two-conditions-for-correct-discernment/


by armaghpriest.com on February 27th, 2018

Starting this month, each month here on the blog we'll publish suggested Prayer of the Faithful that could be included in Mass each Sunday, and shared via social media, parish bulletins, websites, etc.



4th March: The Third Sunday of Lent
That all those seeking to discover their vocation in Christ will take heart in the faith that He is the Lord our God and calls them to the glorious perfection of love…
 
11th March: The Fourth Sunday of Lent
That God, who is rich in mercy, will bless those called by Jesus to serve Him and His Church as priests with faithfulness to that call…
 
17th March: St. Patrick
That, through the intercession of Saint Patrick, those discerning the call to priesthood in our archdiocese may experience the guiding and wise presence of Christ with them on their journey…
 
18th March: The Fifth Sunday of Lent
That God’s name will be glorified by the faithful love of those being called by Christ to serve and follow Him as priests…
 
25th March: Palm Sunday
That in imitation of Christ who emptied Himself for our salvation, those being called to priesthood will share in His passion for souls…
 
29th March: Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper
That as a community of disciples, we may encourage those discerning the call to a life of service and humility as priests…
 
1st April: Easter Sunday
That more men within our community will joyfully answer the call of the Lord to proclaim His life, death and resurrection as priests…

(Image of man at prayer: www.crosswalk.com)


by armaghpriest.com on February 20th, 2018

Recently, the Holy Father Francis received in audience the Community of the Pontifical Regional Seminary of Sardinia, on the occasion of the ninetieth anniversary of its founding.
The following is the text of the Pope’s address to those present:



Address of the Holy Father

Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,
Dear educators and students!

I welcome you on the occasion of the ninetieth anniversary of the foundation of the Pontifical Regional Seminary of Sardinia. It was Pope Pius XI who solicited the Italian bishops, especially from the centre-south and the islands, to agree on the concentration of the seminaries, in order to provide for the education of aspirants to the priesthood. In your Region the Seminary was first established in Cuglieri, together with the Theological Faculty; later it was transferred to the regional capital. I greet you all with affection, beginning with your Pastors, especially the archbishop of Cagliari, Msgr. Arrigo Miglio, whom I thank for his words.

On this occasion I would like to join you in praising the Lord, Who in these years has accompanied with His grace the life of the many priests formed in this important educational institution dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It has given the Church many committed ministers in your local Churches, in the mission ad gentes and in other services to the universal Church. May this commemoration give new impetus to the pastoral care of vocations, and to an up-to-date and careful formation of candidates for the sacred Order, for the benefit of God’s people.

Dear seminarians, you are preparing to become, one day, workers in the harvest of the Lord, priests who know how to work together, even among different dioceses. This is particularly valuable for a region like Sardinia, steeped in faith and Christian religious traditions, and which, also due to its island nature, requires special care for the relations between the different diocesan communities. Today’s material and spiritual poverty makes even more important what has always been required: namely, that pastors are attentive to the poor, and capable of being with them, with a simple lifestyle, so that the poor feel that our churches are first of all their home. I encourage you to prepare yourself now to become priests of the people and to the people, not dominators of the flock entrusted to you (cf. 1 Pt 5,3), but servants. There is a great need for men of God who look to the essential, who lead a sober and transparent life, without nostalgia for the past but capable of looking forward according to the healthy tradition of the Church.

In these years of preparation for the ordained ministry, you are experiencing a special and unrepeatable moment in your life. May you be ever more aware of the grace the Lord has granted you by making resonate in you the invitation to leave everything and follow Him, to be with Him so as to be sent to preach (cf. Mt 4: 19-20, Mk 3:14). The hopes of the Church in Sardinia are placed in you, in a special way! Your bishops follow you with affection and concern, counting heavily on you and your resolve to conform to Jesus Good Shepherd for the good and holiness of the Christian communities of your region. Walk with joy, tenacity and seriousness in this journey of formation, to take on the form of apostolic life, which is able to respond to today’s demands of evangelization.

The seminary, prior to and more than being an institution functional to the acquisition of theological and pastoral skills and a place of common life and study, is a genuine ecclesial experience, a singular community of missionary disciples, called to follow closely the Lord Jesus, to be with Him day and night, to share the mystery of His Cross and Resurrection, to be exposed to the Word and the Spirit, to verify and mature the specific traits of apostolic following. From now on, it is up to you to prepare yourselves adequately to be able to make a free and irrevocable choice of total fidelity to Christ, to His Church and to your vocation and mission.

The seminary is the school of this fidelity, which is learned first of all in prayer, especially in the liturgical one. At this time friendship with Jesus is cultivated, centred in the Eucharist and nourished by contemplation and the study of the Holy Scriptures. You can not exercise the ministry well if you do not live in union with Christ. Without Him we can do nothing (cf. Jn 15: 5).
In the journey of the seminary the role of formators is decisive: the quality of the presbytery depends largely on the commitment of those who are responsible for formation. They are called to work with rectitude and wisdom for the development of coherent and balanced personalities, capable of validly assuming, and then responsibly fulfilling, the priestly mission. In this delicate work of formation, your seminary also carries out an indispensable service to the dioceses, enhancing the quality of the formation of the clergy and communion among the Churches.

I entrust you all to the maternal protection of Our Lady of Bonaria. From experience I can tell you that time in the seminary is a privileged moment in which we experience this loving presence of Our Lady in our life. She always watches with thoughtful love on each one of you. She is your mother. Turn to Mary often and trustfully. I assure all of you of my prayer and my blessing. And please, I ask you to pray for me.

(Source of article: ​http://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/en/bollettino/pubblico/2018/02/17/180217d.html#;
Image: ​http://www.mondayvatican.com/vatican/seminaries-key-to-the-next-conclave)

by armaghpriest.com on January 29th, 2018

​So maybe you’ve decided to make the leap and attend seminary. You have spoken to your vocation director and maybe to your bishop. Or maybe you think you ought to give seminary a try, but you’re feeling too intimidated by how shrouded in mystery the whole process seems to be.

I remember when I finally decided to apply, I was pretty consistently baffled by what was supposed to be happening next, and what being a seminarian was actually going to be like. In fact, I would say that most of the experience was actually a surprise, and even the things that I expected didn’t happen in the way that I expected.Here are three things to know:

1) People will treat you differently
This will start as soon as people hear that you’ve begun the application process.
Even with everything that has happened, people still love priests and the priesthood. The reason for this is that they love Jesus and they know that the priesthood is the way that Jesus has chosen to stay with them. They will treat you accordingly. This is a beautiful thing and it should be a cause of great joy for you to see how devoted the people still are to their priests.
It is very critical to remember, however, that Jesus and the sacraments are the reason people are treating you so differently, not because of your awesome personal accomplishments, and certainly not because you are actually better than them in any way.

This reality will hit you very hard pretty early on, and may cause some struggle because you know your own interior life and you know what a miserable sinner you still are. This is a good thing, and you should be very concerned for your spiritual health if it ever completely stops bothering you. I’ll never forget the first time I put on the collar and looked in the mirror it struck me immediately that nothing magical happens. You are still you, warts and all.
With that in mind, be aware that people are going to treat you as if a) You have no faults or sins, b) You are an expert in all matters spiritual and doctrinal (especially moral!), and c) You are an impenetrable fortress of commitment to celibacy, incapable of being tempted or developing romantic feelings for anyone. Hopefully, you have enough self-knowledge to realize that none of these are reality. It goes without saying that without constant self-checks and being committed to holding nothing back from your spiritual director, any one of these things will be poison to your soul if you start to believe your own hype.

The last of those three things deserves more attention. When you apply to seminary you will notice that your interactions with women will change almost instantly. Because you have made a temporary commitment to celibacy (which is definitely a good thing), women in your life will suddenly see you as emotionally available and eminently trustworthy with their intimate feelings. Be very, very careful here. You may find yourself invited into the intimate places of women’s hearts where you really shouldn’t be, since you are neither their boyfriend nor their spiritual director.

Regarding interactions with the opposite sex, I would recommend being very diligent in paying attention to the what your actions tell you in terms of your commitment to celibacy. Just because you enjoy female attention doesn’t mean you’re not called to celibacy – that’s completely natural – it’s just that if you are called to celibacy it’s something you’re going to have to learn to exercise great caution around. Also, tell your spiritual director everything. If you have cultivated a relationship with someone that is starting to cross some boundaries (even just emotionally) you need to bring that to your director. Failure to do so is a recipe for a spiritual and potentially, moral, disaster.

2) You will be scandalized
Just like the society of people at large, any collection of people from that society are going to have all the same problems, sins, and vices as the population in general. And I do mean pretty much all the same sins. Perhaps the fact that some of the them are happening inside the Church makes them worse or more scandalous, but the reality is what it is. I think a lot of young men enter seminary with the expectation that they will suddenly stop struggling with the sins of their past and that everyone else there will be very pious and virtuous.

Don’t get me wrong, you will meet some of the most authentically holy and saintly people you’ll ever know in the seminary. However, you will also meet men who are bishops, or priests, or who are about to be priests whom you know (because of your proximity to their lives) to be at least as flawed and sinful as you are. Realizing and accepting this is not necessarily a bad thing, in fact it can be an opportunity for great spiritual maturation. You will be forced to separate your notion of the holiness of the Church and of the Priesthood from the holiness (or lack thereof) in the individuals who occupy the Church, even at the highest levels of authority.
Working and living inside the institutional structure of the Church can be one of the greatest tests of faith a Christian can endure. For that reason, it can also be one of the greatest opportunities for growth available. You will experience the dissonance between the things that people say about the Church from the outside and the things you know to be true on the inside. Faith tells us that Jesus is in charge of His Church and nothing can stop it from enduring. You will be made to cling to this truth in a new way when you go to seminary.

3) You will learn to pray like you never have before
I thought I had a pretty decent prayer and sacramental life before I went to seminary, and by most people’s standards, I did. Something I found in seminary was that not only was I taught methods and forced into habits of prayer that were totally new, but I found myself impelled by the difficulty of the situations I faced, and simply by taking my discernment seriously, into praying with greater fervor and intensity than I ever had before. This is true especially if your seminary offers a Spirituality Year and a long Ignatian retreat as mine did. This habit of prayer will be indispensable for both the discernment of your vocation itself and the strengthening of your ability to do God’s will.

With this great gift, however, comes the great responsibility of remaining mindful that this spiritual gift is especially for you, here and now in your life. God neither expects nor wants all of the faithful to have the same kind of prayer life and practices that you are building. You will have to combat the temptation to think that other people are somehow spiritually inferior or know less about God’s will for their lives because they don’t pray in the same way or as much as you do. God gives graces as He chooses to, and He wants you to receive grace in the way that he’s planned for you.

Conclusion
Overall, seminary can be a great time of grace and maturing as a Christian man. The best advice I think I can give to anyone planning to go to seminary is to keep your grasp on reality. Don’t become so cynical and bitter that all you can see is how terrible everything is all the time, but don’t become such a Pious Pollyanna that you refuse to acknowledge evil and dysfunction when it’s staring you in the face.

In short, be the man God made you to be and then He’ll make you into the Priest He wants you to be. Don’t worry about anything, because if Jesus Christ wants you to be His priest, then no power on earth or in hell can stop that from happening.

(Article taken from ​https://churchpop.com/2016/05/02/inside-scoop-seminary-3-things-know-going/; Image from ​J Voitus, Flickr)

by armaghpriest.com on November 8th, 2017

With thanks to the Archdiocese of Cincinnati:


What do parents have to say about their sons call to the priesthood?

We took the opportunity to interview a few wonderful parents to learn more about the call to become a Catholic priest and the transformation of their son.

Gratefully filmed by US Digital Partners for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Filmed on location at St. William Church in Cincinnati, OH. ​
 

by armaghpriest.com on August 31st, 2017

​At his weekly public audience on August 30, Pope Francis said that “the joy of the encounter with Jesus” is the first indication of one’s vocation.

Pope Francis based his catechetical talk on the St. John’s account of Christ’s call to the first apostles (Jn 1:39). He remarked that the encounter remained always vivid in the apostles’ memories; the Gospel mentions the time of day when it took place.

Those first two apostles not only followed Jesus, but “immediately they became missionaries,” the Holy Father observed. Sts. Andrew and John quickly recruited Sts. Peter and James.

These apostles, the Pope continued, were “young men, searching, healthily restless.” He added that young people are characteristically restless, saying: “The young who seek nothing are not young; they have become pensioners; they have aged before their time.”

Addressing the young people in the audience, the Pontiff said: “I too would like to ask the young people here in the square today, and those who listen via the media: ‘You, who are young, what are you seeking? What are you looking for in your heart?’”

Regarding the call for all Christians to be evangelists, the Pope said that the work is not carried out “by honing the instruments of rhetoric.” The key, he said, is “keeping in our eyes the glimmer of true happiness.” He encouraged young people especially to “cultivate healthy utopias.”

Pope Francis insisted on the importance of maintaining a hopeful attitude in order to attract others:

"Please, I advise you: let us not listen to those who are disappointed and unhappy; let us not listen to those who cynically advise us not to cultivate hope in life; let us not trust in those who dampen every enthusiasm at the outset, saying that no enterprise is worth sacrificing all of life for; let us not listen to the “aged” of heart who suffocate youthful euphoria."

(Article first appeared here: ​http://www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfm?storyid=32505)

(Image: ​https://thepreachersword.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/joy2.jpg)

by armaghpriest.com on August 9th, 2017

​Bishop Brendan Kelly ordains Rev Declan Lohan, a former barrister and member of the Legion of Mary and Youth 2000, to the priesthood for ministry in the Diocese of Galway.


“We’re not priests in order to fix the world, or anybody in it. We are priests because God has called us,” Bishop Brendan Kelly told the congregation of family and friends who gathered in Oranmore parish, Co. Galway on Sunday for the ordination of Fr Declan Lohan.

The former barrister and member of the Legion of Mary and Youth 2000 is the first priest the parish has produced. The Bishop of Achonry told the congregation, which included up to 60 priests, that the implements that build up the community of Jesus Christ are poverty and detachment, and freedom in the face of the powers of the world.

“These are the implements of the priestly trade. These were Jesus’ implements, the tools of his trade, for which at the age of thirty he laid aside the tools of his training in the carpenter’s shed at Nazareth.”

Dr Kelly referred to Fr Lohan’s decision to set aside his first trade in law to follow Jesus as a priest, with and for the people of God in the Diocese of Galway. “Your priesthood and shepherding will be enhanced by your first training, just as the experience of being wood-worker was never lost on Jesus,” he said.

He thanked the young priest on behalf of the Diocese of Galway and thanked God for the quiet persistence with which he “planted that good seed of your vocation and gathered you into a community in which you could hear his call.”

On poverty and detachment, Bishop Kelly referred to Pope Francis’ words to priests, religious and seminarians in Havana in September of 2015, when he told them “to love poverty like a mother”.

He said “That’s not the message the world gives, nor any of us want to hear maybe. And then, when you think a mother gives life and unconditional love, isn’t the Pope saying that it is out of our poverty and detachment that we become life-givers?”

Addressing Fr Lohan, he said, “As a priest, the witness of your life will be everything. The rituals you perform, the clothes you will wear have their significance, but what people will see above all is the life you live, the way you relate. And as a priest, your work will be the work of building community.”

He said that in these times when all institutions and traditional sources of authority and wisdom are doubted and under severe scrutiny, witness and example in the matter of faith become far more significant.

“This is true for all followers of Jesus Christ, but especially for those of us called to the service of priesthood. Such witness will expose us to opposition, even ridicule and possibly danger. Never forget what Saint Paul says today: The spirit comes to help us in our weakness.”
He recalled Pope Paul VI’s words when he said that “It is  … primarily by her conduct and life that the church will evangelise [bring the Good News to] the world, in other words by her living witness to the Lord Jesus, the living witness of poverty and detachment, of freedom in the face of the powers of this world …”

(Originally appeared here: ​https://www.catholicireland.net/priests-god-called-us/)

by armaghpriest.com on August 8th, 2017

​Ireland’s youngest priest takes up his new position as a curate in Portlaoise this week – the first time he will lived on his own as he makes his transition into his new surroundings.

Fr David Vard (25) was ordained in his hometown of Newbridge by Bishop Denis Nulty of Kildare and Leighlin last month surrounded by his proud family and friends.

He is hoping to use his age and love of social media to appeal to a younger generation.
The Newbridge native who takes up his new post as a curate in Portlaoise Parish today, says that while he was not a regular Mass-goer as a teenager, a trip to Lourdes changed this and ultimately put him on his spiritual path.

“What I discovered in Lourdes was a real love, not just for the church and going to Mass, but for each other. I quickly realised that the source of this love for each other was the same thing, God,” Fr Vard told The Irish Times.

Fr Vard entered St Patrick’s College in Maynooth after his Leaving Certificate, in 2010 at Patrician Secondary School in Newbridge.

“I was 16 when I went to Lourdes and was one of the first times that I was away from home. I had a very honest conversation with our old parish priest, while I was there. I asked him questions like had he ever wanted a family, or did he regret being a priest. He answered honestly and a very small seed of thought entered my head.”

That seed of thought festered for more than a year but never left the young priest, and it was at 17 that he knew he had a calling.“Lourdes was the point in my life that changed; a lot of things in my life have pointed me in this direction, subtly. My favourite quote from the bible is ‘Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.’ That’s from Jeremiah.

​“Some people say it’s a young life I have led and I don’t know anything but it is God that has brought me here. It’s taught me a lot of hard but good lessons.”

Fr Vard is one of three children. “I’m smack bang in the middle and I have two sisters. Rebecca is my older sister and Charlotte is my younger sister,” says Fr Vard. “I first told my mother Liz on April Fool’s day when I was 17 and she cried so I told her it was a joke, but a few weeks later I told her it wasn’t a joke. I never remember telling my father David, it just kind of came out.
“My mother could see the change in me when I came back from Lourdes but she later told me it was the same cry she would have had if I was going to be married. They were tears for me growing up.”

Telling his friends in school was also an easy thing for the young priest, as he told them during a night out and they were accepting. “This was 2010, and all my close friends were happy for me. We were all going off on our own journey. They were more surprised that it took seven years for me to become a priest,” smiles Fr Vard.

Moving to Portlaoise is an exciting move for the young curate who has never lived on his own before.“I’ve never had to do stuff like pay a bill and I’m not a great cook but it’s going to be interesting. There are a lot of challenges ahead but this is my path. I feel more pressure to be a priest rather than that I’m 25.

“I like music and hanging out, I play tennis and I golf and enjoy social media. Maybe I’ll become the Snapchat priest of Ireland where I can reach more people,” adds Fr Vard.

The new curate says that he has great admiration for Pope Francis and the fact that he has taken his message to social media.“The pope is a great inspiration of how to reach out to a new generation. I hope that people will be able to come to me to seek advice and guidance and not see my age as a deterrent. “The fact that the pope is on Twitter and Instagram is something new and refreshing about the Catholic Church. It’s not something that we have seen in the past, the pontiff speaks from the mind.”

Fr Vard recalls his time training at Maynooth and the seven-year journey it has taken him to become a priest. “I made some very good friends very quickly in Maynooth but I suppose it was a little strange. I was 18 and the oldest in my class was 65, so there was a bit of a difference.

“There was only 15 of us so you’re very close, there was one time when I was doing my pastoral placement and ours was in a nursing home. There was me in my early 20s, the 65-year-old and a 30-something trainee priest. We looked like a family coming in to visit, the dad, son and grandson,” laughs Fr Vard.

Carrying on the family name was something that may have been a little difficult for his family.
“I guess carrying on the family name is something all parents want their children to do. The fact that I have two sisters means that my family namesake ends with me, but I have a firm belief that this is my path in life.”

Fr Vard says he looks forward to the moments that lie ahead for him in his new parish in Portlaoise and welcomes the challenges ahead.

(Originally published here: ​https://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/religion-and-beliefs/state-s-youngest-priest-looking-forward-to-challenge-ahead-1.3172517)


by armaghpriest.com on August 7th, 2017

​Why should we say prayers for the priests in our lives? Saint John Vianney, the patron saint of priests, once said, “After God, the priest is everything.”

Priests serve Christ’s Church here on earth daily through the Mass and sacraments. In confession they stand in persona Christi and work with Christ to bring us forgiveness from our sins.

We must pray for priests everyday—especially because of the deep hatred Satan has for priests. Christ Himself instituted the priesthood for the Church here on earth, so naturally, the devil hates the men Christ has chosen to continue to bring light and truth to the world.  He continuously works to separate them from the grace of God.

After their ordination, all priests have an indelible mark on their souls. This mark makes priests prime targets for the devil and his evil ways.  Here are six prayers (from some of our favorite saints!) to say today to intercede for our shepherds here on earth.

 

1. St. Therese of Lisieux’s Prayer for Priests

O Jesus, eternal Priest,
keep your priests within the shelter of Your Sacred Heart,
where none may touch them.

Keep unstained their anointed hands,
which daily touch Your Sacred Body.

Keep unsullied their lips,
daily purpled with your Precious Blood.

Keep pure and unearthly their hearts,
sealed with the sublime mark of the priesthood.

Let Your holy love surround them and
shield them from the world’s contagion.

Bless their labors with abundant fruit and
may the souls to whom they minister be their joy and consolation here and in heaven their beautiful and
everlasting crown. 

 

2. St.John Vianney’s Prayer for Priests

God, please give to your Church today
many more priests after your own heart.

May they be worthy representatives of Christ the Good Shepherd.
May they wholeheartedly devote themselves to prayer and penance;
be examples of humility and poverty;
shining models of holiness;
tireless and powerful preachers of the Word of God;
zealous dispensers of your grace in the sacraments.

May their loving devotion to your Son Jesus in the Eucharist
and to Mary his Mother be the twin fountains of fruitfulness for their ministry.

 

3. St. Pope John Paul II’s Prayer for Priests to Our Blessed Mother

Mother of Jesus Christ and Mother of priests,

Accept this title which we bestow on you to celebrate your motherhood 
and to contemplate with you the priesthood of your Son and of your sons, 
O holy Mother of God.

Mother of Christ, 
to the Messiah Priest you gave a body of flesh 
through the anointing of the Holy Spirit 
for the salvation of the poor and the contrite of heart; 
guard priests in your heart and in the Church, 
O Mother of the Savior.

Mother of Faith, 
you accompanied to the Temple the Son of Man, 
the fulfillment of the promises given to the fathers; 
give to the Father for his glory the priests of your Son, 
O Ark of the Covenant.

Mother of the Church, 
with the disciples in the Upper Room 
you prayed to the Spirit for the new People and their shepherds; 
obtain for the Order of Presbyters a fullness of gifts, 
O Queen of the Apostles.

Mother of Jesus Christ, 
you were with Him at the beginning of His life and of His mission, 
you sought the Master among the crowd, 
you stood beside Him when he was lifted up from the earth 
consumed as the one eternal sacrifice, 
and you had John close by you, your son; 
accept from the beginning those who have been called, 
protect their growth, accompany your sons in their life and in their ministry, 
O Mother of Priests. 

4. St. Teresa of Calcutta’s Prayer for Priests
Mary, Mother of Jesus, throw your mantle of purity over our priests.

Protect them, guide them, and keep them in your heart. 
Be a Mother to them, especially in times of discouragement and loneliness. 
Love them and keep them belonging completely to Jesus. 
Like Jesus, they, too, are your sons, so keep their hearts pure and virginal. 
Keep their minds filled with Jesus, and put Jesus always on their lips, 
so that he is the one they offer to sinner and to all they meet. 
Mary, Mother of Jesus, be their Mother, 
loving them and bringing them joy. 
Take special care of sick and dying priests, and the ones most tempted. 
Remember how they spent their youth and old age, 
their entire lives serving and giving all to Jesus. 
Mary, bless them and keep a special place for them in your heart. 
Give them a piece of your heart, so beautiful and pure and immaculate, 
so full of love and humility, so that they, too, can grow in the likeness of Christ. 
Dear Mary, make them humble like you, and holy like Jesus. 


5. Fr. Benedict’s Prayer for Priests
Lord Jesus Christ, eternal High Priest,
You offered yourself to the Father on the altar of the Cross 
and through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit 
gave Your priestly people a share in Your redeeming sacrifice. 
Hear our prayer for the sanctification of our priests. 
Grant that all who are ordained to the ministerial priesthood 
may be ever more conformed to You, the Divine Master. 
May they preach the Gospel with pure heart and clear conscience.
Let them be shepherds according to Your own Heart, 
single-minded in service to You and to the Church 
and shining examples of a holy, simple and joyful life. 
Through the prayers of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Your Mother and ours,
draw all priests and the flocks entrusted to their care 
to the fullness of eternal life where you live and reign 
with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.


6. St. Faustina’s Prayer for Priests
Heavenly Father, grant that our priests be strengthened and healed
by the power of the Eucharist they celebrate. 
May the Word they proclaim give them courage and wisdom.
We pray that all those whom they seek to serve 
May see in them the love and care of Jesus, 
Our Eternal High Priest, who is Lord for ever and ever. Amen.
Mary, Mother of the Church, look tenderly upon your sons, our priests. 
St Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church, pray for us all.
8. O my Jesus, I beg You on behalf of the whole Church:
Grant it love and the light of Your Spirit 
and give power to the words of priests 
so that hardened hearts might be brought to repentance 
and return to You, O Lord.
Lord, give us holy priests; 
You Yourself maintain them in holiness. 
O Divine and Great High Priest, 
may the power of Your mercy accompany them everywhere and protect them 
from the devil’s snares which are continually being set for the souls of priests. 
May the power of Your mercy, O Lord, 
shatter and bring to naught all that might tarnish the sanctity of priests, 
for You can do all things.      


(Original article appeared on ​http://epicpew.com/6priestprayers/)







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