Francis’ Chrism Mass Sermon: priests are very small

Today His Holiness of our Lord preached a sermon on the occasion of the Chrism Mass of Holy Thursday.   He spoke with eloquence about the priest and priesthood.   He spoke especially about joy, departing from the “oil of gladness” which we speak of on this day.  I am not happy with the English translation, nor in simply reading it.  It is better in Italian and via listening and watching the video.

He spoke about how small a person the priest is.  He is poor, useless, ignorant and frail unless….  The Holy Father also spoke of the Evil One.

We are anointed “to our bones”.

There are a few triples and a couple home runs herein.

Here are some samples:

Dear Brother Priests,

In the eternal “today” of Holy Thursday, when Christ showed his love for us to the end (cf. Jn 13:1), we recall the happy day of the institution of the priesthood, as well as the day of our own priestly ordination. The Lord anointed us in Christ with the oil of gladness, and this anointing invites us to accept and appreciate this great gift: the gladness, the joy of being a priest. Priestly joy is a priceless treasure, not only for the priest himself but for the entire faithful people of God: that faithful people from which he is called to be anointed and which he, in turn, is sent to anoint.  [I think we can legitimately add that ordination is also for the priest himself.  But that is not the emphasis of this sermon.]

Anointed with the oil of gladness so as to anoint others with the oil of gladness. Priestly joy has its source in the Father’s love, and the Lord wishes the joy of this Love to be “ours” and to be “complete” (Jn 15:11). I like to reflect on joy by contemplating Our Lady, for Mary, the “Mother of the living Gospel, is a wellspring of joy for God’s little ones” (Evangelii Gaudium, 288). I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that priest is very little indeed [il sacerdote è una persona molt piccolo...Literally: the priest is a very small person.  The priest is very small.]: the incomparable grandeur of the gift granted us for the ministry sets us among the least of men. The priest is the poorest of men unless Jesus enriches him by his poverty, the most useless of servants unless Jesus calls him his friend, the most ignorant of men unless Jesus patiently teaches him as he did Peter, the frailest of Christians unless the Good Shepherd strengthens him in the midst of the flock. No one is more “little” than a priest left to his own devices; and so our prayer of protection against every snare of the Evil One is the prayer of our Mother: I am a priest because he has regarded my littleness (cf. Lk 1:48). And in that littleness we find our joy. Joy in our littleness!

For me, there are three significant features of our priestly joy. It is a joy which anoints us (not one which “greases” us, making us unctuous, sumptuous and presumptuous), it is a joy which is imperishable and it is a missionary joy which spreads and attracts, starting backwards – with those farthest away from us.  [It is common for Jesuits to take three points.]

A joy which anoints us. In a word: it has penetrated deep within our hearts, it has shaped them and strengthened them sacramentally. The signs of the ordination liturgy speak to us of the Church’s maternal desire to pass on and share with others all that the Lord has given us: the laying on of hands, the anointing with sacred chrism, the clothing with sacred vestments, the first consecration which immediately follows… Grace fills us to the brim and overflows, fully, abundantly and entirely in each priest. We are anointed down to our very bones… and our joy, which wells up from deep within, is the echo of this anointing.  [Nice image.  Yes... the outward signs are also important.  They signal interior realities.]

An imperishable joy. The fullness of the Gift, which no one can take away or increase, is an unfailing source of joy: an imperishable joy which the Lord has promised no one can take from us (Jn 16:22). It can lie dormant, or be clogged by sin or by life’s troubles, yet deep down it remains intact, like the embers of a burnt log beneath the ashes, and it can always be renewed. [Nice.] Paul’s exhortation to Timothy remains ever timely: I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands (cf. 2 Tim 1:6).

A missionary joy. I would like especially to share with you and to stress this third feature: priestly joy is deeply bound up with God’s holy and faithful people, for it is an eminently missionary joy. Our anointing is meant for anointing God’s holy and faithful people: for baptizing and confirming them, healing and sanctifying them, blessing, comforting and evangelizing them.

And since this joy is one which only springs up when the shepherd is in the midst of his flock (for even in the silence of his prayer, the shepherd who worships the Father is with his sheep), it is a “guarded joy”, watched over by the flock itself. Even in those gloomy moments when everything looks dark and a feeling of isolation takes hold of us, in those moments of listlessness and boredom which at times overcome us in our priestly life (and which I too have experienced), even in those moments God’s people are able to “guard” that joy; they are able to protect you, to embrace you and to help you open your heart to find renewed joy.  [This is profoundly true.  Priests often find great strength and hope and reinforcement of courage and focus in the help of laypeople.  We are, after all, oriented to each other.  At the same time, and I would like to offer this as a point of reflection for some readers here, often priests find lay people pouring cold water on our flame and coals.]

A “guarded joy“: one guarded by the flock but also guarded by three sisters who surround it, tend it and defend it: sister poverty, sister fidelity and sister obedience.

The joy of priests is a joy which is sister to poverty. The priest is poor in terms of purely human joy. He has given up so much! And because he is poor, he, who gives so much to others, has to seek his joy from the Lord and from God’s faithful people. He doesn’t need to try to create it for himself. We know that our people are very generous in thanking priests for their slightest blessing and especially for the sacraments.

[... READ THE REST THERE...]

Priestly joy is a joy which is sister to fidelity. Not primarily in the sense that we are all “immaculate” (would that by God’s grace we were!), for we are sinners, but in the sense of an ever renewed fidelity to the one Bride, to the Church. Here fruitfulness is key.

[... READ THE REST THERE...]

Priestly joy is a joy which is sister to obedience. An obedience to the Church in the hierarchy which gives us, as it were, not simply the external framework for our obedience: the parish to which I am sent, my ministerial assignments, my particular work … but also union with God the Father, the source of all fatherhood. It is likewise an obedience to the Church in service: in availability and readiness to serve everyone, always and as best I can, following the example of “Our Lady of Promptness” (cf. Lk 1:39, meta spoudes), who hastens to serve Elizabeth her kinswoman and is concerned for the kitchen of Cana when the wine runs out.

[... READ THE REST THERE...  He speaks of new priests, veterans and now... this is great...]

Finally, on this Thursday of the priesthood, I ask the Lord Jesus to make better known the joy of elderly priests, whether healthy or infirm. It is the joy of the Cross, which springs from the knowledge that we possess an imperishable treasure in perishable earthen vessels. May these priests find happiness wherever they are; may they experience already, in the passage of the years, a taste of eternity (Guardini). May they know, Lord, the joy of handing on the torch, the joy of seeing new generations of their spiritual children, and of hailing the promises from afar, smiling and at peace, in that hope which does not disappoint.

An observations.  His Holiness Benedict XVI also reflected deeply on the theme of joy and priesthood.  He has a book called Ministers of Your Joy.

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AUDIO PODCAzT: Via Crucis by Joseph Ratzinger

Here is another of my recording of the Stations of the Cross, this time by Joseph Ratzinger in 2005 for Good Friday just before the death of St John Paul II and his own election to the See of Peter.

I hope this shows up in iTunes for you.

As requested.

 

 

 

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AUDIO PRAYERCAzT: Via Crucis by St Alphonsus Liguori (with chant)

Some of you have asked me to post my recordings of the Stations of the Cross as individual posts. It seems that in iTunes only one of the four are available when I post multiple links.

Here is one.

May I ask a prayer in return?

Posted in LENTCAzT, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Our Catholic Identity, PODCAzT | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

LENTCAzT 44 Holy Thursday

Please use the sharing buttons?  Thanks!

Today is Holy Thursday of the Sacred Triduum.

Examine your consciences.

Have you made your good confession?

Today we hear something from the wonderful  CD of music for Lent by the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles.

 http://www.wdtprs.com/lentcazt14/0644Lent2014.mp3

These daily podcasts for Lent are intended to give you a small boost every day,

This project during Lent has been a token of thanks to my donors.

Posted in LENTCAzT, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Our Catholic Identity, PODCAzT | 4 Comments

Ready for the Triduum?

A wonderful place to reflect on the mysteries of Holy Week is in a gallery of a great museum with sacred art, especially with the Office ringing changes in your ears.

At the Met.

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Detail of an Ecce Homo by Alessandro Magnasco from about 1710.

Regard.

Reflect.

Posted in Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, Non Nobis and Te Deum, On the road, Our Catholic Identity, What Fr. Z is up to | Tagged | 5 Comments

My View For Awhile: meandering towards Rome

It isn’t much like the Via Francigena.

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As help for the trip my mom sent me some money.

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I miss Lire.

UPDATE:

On the ground. I said I was meandering, after all. It is cold in Gotham, and windy, but the sun helps.

Borscht at Veselka takes the chill away

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Posted in On the road, What Fr. Z is up to | Tagged , , | 27 Comments

Happy 87th Birthday, Benedict XVI!

Please, during the day today, say prayers for His Holiness Benedict XVI, who turns 87 today.

Thank you, Your Holiness, for all that you did for us and Christ’s Church.

Posted in Benedict XVI | Tagged | 27 Comments

LENTCAzT 43: Spy Wednesday

Please use the sharing buttons?  Thanks!

Today is Spy Wednesday of Holy Week.

Examine your consciences.

Have you made your good confession?

Today we hear something from the wonderful  CD of music for Lent by the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles.

 http://www.wdtprs.com/lentcazt14/0643Lent2014.mp3

These daily podcasts for Lent are intended to give you a small boost every day,

This project during Lent has been a token of thanks to my donors.

Posted in LENTCAzT, Liturgy Science Theatre 3000, PODCAzT | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Dogs. Cats. Different?

This was amusing.  I really need amusing today.

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ACTION ITEM! Help a US Army Chaplain and his troops! UPDATED

One of the most important things that troops on the ground need are good stockings.

Socks. Soldiers. Think about it.

A priest of the Diocese of Madison, Fr. Jason Hesseling, is an Army Chaplain on active duty in Afghanistan (1st BN 3rd SFG (A)). There are 500 soldiers in that unit.

Fr. Hesseling, in conjunction with Fox River, created a site through which YOU, dear readers, can buy socks for the troops!

They need lots o’ socks, friends.  They need hundreds.

Why Fox River socks?

Fr. H wrote to me:

I’m very grateful for any publicity you can offer to us, and any support you can throw our way. The guys love these socks, they usually buy them on their own if I can’t supply them since they are rugged, they are battle proven, and they don’t melt or cause further injury when exposed to fire/explosions. Any soldier will tell you that maintaining your feet is almost as important as maintaining your weapon downrange. These socks help in that effort.

Thanks again for all the prayers and support. Blessings in all things…

To view The Soliders’ Wishlist and to order socks go HERE.

There are quite a few units. To find Fr. Hesseling’s unit scroll down or, fast, do a CTR+F search with #100764  [HINT: highlight #100764 hit CTL+C, then go to site, then CTR+F, and then paste with CTL+V into the search box]

Please pitch in?  It is a simple thing to do, but they will be grateful.  I know that when people send me a donation or something from my wishlist, it is a dose of encouragement.  It really picks me up.   There is no question that you could do the same for them, in much harder circumstances than I have.

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Fr. Z's usual travel gear with Fox River socks!

If 1 in 10 readers here would help, think of what an impact we could make?

Also, I have had Fox River socks on my wishlist.  KA sent me few pair a couple years ago.  They are GREAT in boots while walking and they really hold up.

Again, click HERE and CTL+F search #100764

And once they get all their socks, who says you can’t buy more for other units?

Finally: to buy Fox River socks for yourselves, click HERE.  They are great.

A shot of the order form which allows FREE SHIPPING.

PS: It might take a little while for your order to appear as registered on that site. Patience.

UPDATE 18:11 GMT:

WOW!  Great response so far.  I counted 122 pairs so far!  6% fulfillment.

UPDATE 16 April 03:35 GMT:

Look at what you have done!

UPDATE: 0133 GMT:

I am impressed and proud of you!

Look at this!  Look how the numbers have changed.

UPDATE: 17 April 1609 GMT:

28%  KEEP GOING!

 

Posted in "How To..." - Practical Notes, Be The Maquis, Fr. Z KUDOS, I'm just askin'..., Mail from priests, Our Catholic Identity, The Campus Telephone Pole, What Fr. Z is up to | Tagged , , , , | 39 Comments