|The section on Life contains the
Priesthood? It is the surrender of body, mind, soul, spirit and heart to
the work of the Lord through the Sacarament of Holy Orders - Ordination.
Priests are the shepherds of the Lord's flock, His representatives on
earth. But who are priests? In my church, they are men who have given
their lives over to the work of God, following in the footsteps of the
first 'Priests of the New Covenant' - the apostles.
"When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. And while they were eating, He said, 'I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.'..." Matt. 26; 20
Knowing that Judas was to betray Him, He had still chosen him as one of the Twelve (Matt. 26; 21, 25).
Jesus had chosen Peter to be the first leader of the new Priesthood. He recognised his faults and failings, his temper, his impetuousity but still He knew that the love Peter had for Him would conquer all.
In John's gospel we read of Jesus re-affirming Peter as the leader of the Twelve.
"...When they had finished
eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, 'Simon son of John, do you truly love
me more than these?'
Jesus had chosen this group of men, the apostles, to be the leaders of His Church but He gave Peter the responsibility to be the leader of leaders. Every group needs a leader. Someone to take charge of things and the Lord placed this responsibilty on the shoulders of Peter when He said:
"But what about you?" he
asked. "Who do you say I am?" Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ,
the Son of the living God."
For over 2000 years that direct line from Peter has been unbroken in the Catholic Church and on Peter's death a new leader of the Church was elected by the Church elders or Bishops, and new Bishops were blessed by the Popes all through the history of the Church. These Bishops in turn ordained men down through the ages to be shepherds of the flock, as requested by Jesus. This has continued to this very day and Karol Woytilla, Pope John Paul 11, is the present-day Peter, carrying the burden and responsibility of the Church just as Peter did in his day. Peter's burdens then are no diferent than those of the Pope today.
Two excellent sources of research, from the perspective of Protestant Ministers and Academics, highlight the role of the Petrine Office and unbroken tradition in the church. By the Grace of the Holy Spirit, these authors an theologians converted to Catholicism because of their scholarly endeavours, Their books are:
a) Crossing the Tibor
But again we have to ask the question - who or what are Priests? Priests are men, human and with all the same weaknesses and failings as all of us. Because of the work they do they are a thorn in the side of Satan. They guide souls back to God, help to keep hearts on the right path and keep the faithful with their eyes on God. Satan knows how much their work harms his and attacks them in a ferocious way and some fall by the wayside like the rest of humanity. But the result of the sins and scandals of fallen Priests are more devastating than the failings of lay people because in their hands they hold the responsibility of human souls.
See one priest's answer to the Church scandals in the US "Answering Scandal with Personal Holiness." an unpublished homily. Fr. Roger J. Landry was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Fall River, MA by Bishop Sean O'Malley, OFM Cap., in 1999. After receiving a biology degree from Harvard College, Fr. Landry studied for the priesthood in Maryland, Toronto and for several years in Rome. After his priestly ordination, Bishop O'Malley sent him back to Rome to finish graduate work in moral theology and bioethics. He is presently parochial vicar at Espirito Santo Parish in Fall River Massachusetts and chaplain at Bishop Connolly High School.
Priests need our prayers in a most profound way. They need the filial love and respect of us all. Every day we need to wrap our Priests in the love of the Father, the protection of the Lord and the wisdom of the Holy Spirit by saying a short prayer for them. Theirs is an onorous task and often a lonely life.
Visionaries are people who are so 'deep in the Lord' that they 'hear and see' through Him. In their constant walk with Christ they are conduits to the Lord who speaks to them in a special way. We know of thousands throughout the history of the Church and great teachers leave their writings to us based on the words they heard in their hearts and the discernment of the Church as to their authenticity. One such person is a gentleman from Cork called Denis O'Leary and his experiences in recent years have been to 'hear Jesus and speak with him', This is known as inner locutions. He spends much time in silence in front of the Blessed Sacrament and in his silence and meditation is open to the Lord. Last year he put into a little book all the 'conversations and visions' he has had with Jesus since 1992. It's called "COME Let Us Adore Him"
Jesus spoke to him in a very real way and in one of His earlier conversations in 1992 Jesus said to Denis:
"Oh! How I weep for my Pope! My annointed and appointed beloved shepherd. My poor Pope who is at this time experiencing his own Gethsemane. How forsaken he feels".
Denis was given a vision of what Jesus does with His Priests at Ordination and was shown the gentle and beautiful way He, the Lord, bends and kisses the backs and palms of both of the Priest's hands when they are blessed by the Bishop, then placing them on His heart. Denis asked:
"Jesus, when one of Your holy Priests falls and betrays You by betraying the holy vows taken at his ordination, what then happens to his hands?"
The response he got was to see Jesus weeping and was shown a vision of one such Priest who was about to pray with someone. Jesus sadly but gently and respectfully took both hands and kissed them as with the others. Denis then realised that the Lord had not withdrawn even one iota of the heavenly grace He had originally conferred upon the Priest on the day of his Ordination.
In February 1994 Jesus said to Denis:
"I shall not allow wicked criticism of My Shepherds. Prayer is all that I desire for them. Then you must trust in Me to do the healing. My Priests are so very important for you. Without My Priests I cannot feed you. Show great respect. Pray when you cannot understand".
(For anyone interested in learning more about this little booklet please email: )
We need to cover our Priests in prayer morning, noon and night. Our Priests need to bathe themselves in Jesus morning, noon and night. The current crisis in the Church over abusing Priests make great headline copy and the media love it. Sure, these cases have to be brought out into the open and a cleansing of the Church from all sorts of evil, and this is happening, Thank God. But we must not forget that the numbers are tiny compared to the hundreds of thousands of good, loyal and caring Priests who feel the pain and the shame of the acts of their 'brothers'. Some feel more isolated and lonely and start to question their own vocation.
Fathers, I say to you, we love you, we need you, we care about you. Turn your hearts to Jesus and His Blessed Mother in a real and personal way and He, along with His Beloved Mother, the Immaculate Heart of Mary, will guide you along the right path, giving you the grace, strength and courage to continue doing His work as His beloved Priests.
"Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal." Isaiah 26:4
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Mary Mullins, Cregmore, Claregalway, County Galway, Ireland.
Phone: +353 91 798407