John Paul II – priesthood

I owe this to His Hermeneuticalness and John Paul II.

Full disclosure.

I was ordained by John Paul II:

One of the themes of Pope John Paul II’s pontificate was his insistence on the necessity of the priesthood and his personal and heartfelt encouragement to priests, both in positive spiritual terms and, occasionally, in correction and admonition.

At the time Pope John Paul II was elected to the Papacy, it was quite common to hear, even in official circles, that the shortage of vocations to the priesthood was a work of the Holy Spirit, encouraging the laity to take their full part in the ministry of the Church. The fact that this is heard much less today (although there are still some dinosaurs who persist in the error) is largely due to the consistent teaching of Pope John Paul II on its falsity.

I well remember during the first year of his pontificate, the Pope’s Maundy Thursday letter to priests. This was the first of a series that continued almost every year during his reign.In that letter, there was a moving exhortation to priests who were weary or doubtful:

Dear Brothers: you who have borne “the burden of the day and the heat” (Mt 20:12), who have put your hand to the plough and do not turn back (cf. Lk 9:62), and perhaps even more those of you who are doubtful of the meaning of your vocation or of the value of your service: think of the places where people anxiously await a Priest, and where for many years; feeling the lack of such a Priest, they do not cease to hope for his presence. And sometimes it happens that they meet in an abandoned shrine, and place on the altar a stole which they still keep, and recite all the prayers of the Eucharistic liturgy; and then, at the moment that corresponds to the transubstantiation a deep silence comes down upon them, a silence sometimes broken by a sob… so ardently do they desire to hear the words that only the lips of a Priest can efficaciously utter. So much do they desire Eucharistic Communion, in which they can share only through the ministry of a priest, just as they also so eagerly wait to hear the divine words of pardon: Ego te absolvo a peccatis tuis! So deeply do they feel the absence of a Priest among them!… Such places are not lacking in the world. So if one of you doubts the meaning of his priesthood, if he thinks it is “socially” fruitless or useless, reflect on this!In his letter to priests for Maundy Thursday 1986 Pope John Paul II reflected at length on the ministry and life of the Curé of Ars. He addressed in particular the question of the priest’s identity:

Saint John Mary Vianney gives an eloquent answer to certain questionings of the priest’s identity, which have manifested themselves in the course of the last twenty years; in fact it seems that today a more balanced position is being reached. The priest always, and in an unchangeable way, finds the source of his identity in Christ the Priest. It is not the world which determines his status, as though it depended on changing needs or ideas about social roles. The priest is marked with the seal of the Priesthood of Christ, in order to share in his function as the one Mediator and Redeemer.The movement to a “more balanced position” concerning the priesthood was undoubtedly due in large part to the inspiration, example, and encouragement given by the Pope himself from the very start of his pontificate.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Alan Aversa says:

    What are Pope John Paul II’s three miracles needed for beatification and canonization? I did a Google search and only found information on one miraculous cure. Thanks

  2. jmhj5 says:

    Thank You—“Holy Trinity,” Thank you Mother Mary! I knew there was more….thank you for sharing this picture.
    God Bless you!

  3. mike cliffson says:

    Fr: most of your readers are lay -God send some are men , esp young men, for whom posts like this be a n ingredient , however minor, in their joyfully discerning God calling them to the priesthood!
    One mea culpa as a parent, other parents please take note.
    Quote:”At the time Pope John Paul II was elected to the Papacy, it was quite common to hear, even in official circles, that the shortage of vocations to the priesthood was a work of the Holy Spirit, ” followed by” encouraging the laity to take their full part in the ministry of the Church” Perhaps. However priestridden/dumping EVERYTHING on priests some catholic societies were – and there’s some truth in it, Priests running say travelagencies fulltime etc -it’s a good rule of thumb that anything the clergy run badly, the laity will run worse, given time.
    I may have been deaf, or associated with the wrong clergy, but I remember, rather , it being more emphasized that priestlessness were being permitted by the holySpirit a sign to parents to be generous and unselfish in transmitting the gift of life, and to bring up our kids in the faith including the idea of vocation being glorious etc. Our eleven kids include three boys, and I CAN’T say ,through, our sins etc, whether or not they SHOULD ever become priests, that we have endowed them with the idea of the priesthood as an option, a possibility, part of God’s plan for them say it how you will, which is a great sadness.
    As well as being able to make silk purses out of sows’ ears, the Lord can make sons of Abraham out of the very stones. I f he wants.
    We NEED priests.

  4. Daniel Latinus says:

    At the time Pope John Paul II was elected to the Papacy, it was quite common to hear, even in official circles, that the shortage of vocations to the priesthood was a work of the Holy Spirit, encouraging the laity to take their full part in the ministry of the Church.

    I remember somebody, back in the 1970s, responding to this sentiment, stated that an active and empowered laity will require more, not fewer priests.

  5. Random Friar says:

    Those who say that we don’t need priests or religious (and some who do say it are priests and religious, humph!), are indeed prophesying in the name of the spirit. Just not the one they’re thinking of.

    Pray for more priestly and religious vocations. If you’re on a parish council, or have the ear of the pastor, ask him about inviting vocations directors from your favorite orders or chanceries (many of them would be happy to take a weekend off Father’s hands and give him a needed moment of rest!) Ask about a place for vocational material in the parish literature rack, if there is not any at the moment. Offer some of that Holy Hour time to pray to the Lord that He may send laborers to His harvest.

  6. Maltese says:

    Father, you were ordained by John Paul II; I, in large measure, became Catholic due to JPII. Though a strident Traditionalist, I have a more centrist view of JPII’s pontificate. No one denies the personal sanctity of him: his long hours of prayer, his courage combatting communism, his ardent defense of life, etc. But the question becomes, did the Church flourish or flounder under his Pontificate? Well, ironically, a little of both. Certainly he steered the Bark in a better direction vis-a-vis his immediate predecessors and Vatican II, but he could have perhaps handled the Lefebvre matter better, and not have elevated the likes of the Mahoneys and Kaspers out there. When us Traddies look at JPII, we must at least acknowledge that he was a far cry from the Borgia Pope!

  7. irishgirl says:

    You were so blessed to be ordained by John Paul II, Father Z! Love that picture of you kneeling before him!

  8. Tina in Ashburn says:

    Thanks for posting this Father. An edifying read, re-iteration of the role of the priest is necessary today more than ever.

  9. Michael Corleone was ordained to the priesthood by Pope John Paul II??! Great Photo!

  10. MOP says:

    Our family of 10 resided in a dysfunctional rural midwest diocese with two parish priests who left the priesthood and no Catholic school education before college. However, we now have one son ordained to the priesthood in 2009 and another son as a CFR who might possibly study for the priesthood after final vows. Pope John Paul II was our guiding light as a family. Our kids went to WYDays in Toronto, Cologne, Paris and Rome – just a couple at a time, but it made a lasting impression on them. Thank you, JPII, for your witness to our children – they heard your call and heeded your example.

  11. Mike says:

    I don’t know a whole lot about JPII and the TLM, but it is interesting to consider that JPII appointed Cardinal Ratzinger to broker a truce with the SSPX before the “break” in 1988.

    Lots to ponder there.

  12. Dr. Eric says:

    Father, the picture of your ordination at the hands of Ven. John Paul is ineffable.

  13. Geoffrey says:

    “…he could have perhaps handled the Lefebvre matter better, and not have elevated the likes of the Mahoneys and Kaspers out there.”

    And he did elevate the likes of Cardinal Burke, among some other good bishops.

  14. Random Friar says:

    This may surprise some, but popes have to rely on the opinions and estimations of others most of the time when it comes to new bishops. Poping is not as easy as it looks!

  15. Fr. Z, this brought tears to my eyes. Our family has the privilege of knowing some very faithful priests who definitely have and do ‘bear the heat of the day’ and are holier priests for it. Our diocese has a prayer group named for the Cure d’Ars whose members commit to pray daily for His Holiness, our bishop, our priests (we choose those we pray for plus there is a daily rotation), and our seminarians and vocations. The spiritual motherhood of priests is very quietly active here as well in a less formal way. And continual prayer for our priests and for vocations is bearing fruit: our independent but officially Catholic high school has three seminarians among its ten years of graduates, and several other young men and women in discernment for religious orders. There our son is constantly exposed to the fullness of the Catholic life in both religious and lay vocations.

    Prayer is efficacious! Ora et labora!

  16. Patricia: Since prayer is efficacious, pray for some of the people in the WaPo combox.

  17. eiggam says:

    Yesterday I attended the ordination for two transitional deacons in the Kalamazoo diocese. It was a wonderful ceremony. Encouragment by the community, perpetual adoration, and good family life are contributing factors to our increasing count of men who are answering God’s call. We are also showing a slight increase in women answering the call to the be nuns.

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