Lessons for a Priest’s Baptismal and Ministerial Consecration from St. Teresa and St. Margaret Mary, October 14, 2015

Fr. Roger J. Landry
Monthly Day of Recollection for Priests
St. Agnes Parish, Manhattan
October 14, 2015

 

To listen to the first conference on three things a priest can learn from St. Teresa of Avila’s consecrated life to strengthen them in their priestly consecration, please click below: 

 

To listen to the second conference on three things a priest can learn from St. Margaret Mary Alacoques’ consecrated life to strengthen them in their priestly consecration, please click below: 

 

The following points were attempted in the conferences: 

First Meditation

  • Year of Consecrated Life. Wake up the world. Like every ecclesiastical holy year, it’s meant to flavor everything that the Church lives and does. It’s an opportunity for us to ponder much more what consecration means, a thought Pope Benedict used to preach about on Holy Thursday, to separate in order to unite ourselves to God and his mission, a particular type of belonging. We can ponder what that means for our prayer, our charity, our sense of community, our poverty, chastity and obedience as the road to true wealth, love and freedom, our living eschatologically and in particular our living joyfully. Where there are consecrated, Pope Francis has stressed, there’s supposed to be above all joy. That’s something that is meant particularly to impact us.
  • One of the fun things about the first 319 of the 430 days of this ecclesiastical year has been to focus on those who have lived the consecrated life in a particularly beautiful way. And over the next couple of days we have two of the greats: first tomorrow, St. Teresa of Jesus, in this year marking the 500th anniversary of her birth; and Friday, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, the one chosen by God to reveal to us the love of Jesus’ Sacred Heart, which our patron, St. John Vianney, used to refer to the priesthood, when he said that the priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus. So what I’d like to do in these two brief meditations today is to ponder three things each we can learn from these two great consecrated saints to help us in living out our own baptismal and priestly consecration in a holy way.
  • Teresa of Avila
    • Hunger for Heaven
      • The saint we celebrate tomorrow started off with great desires. When she was seven, she took great pleasure in the lives of the saints, making a little hermitage in her back yard where she could read and pray. One day her younger brother Rodrigo was in the back yard with her and they began to think about the happiness of the saints in heaven and got caught up in the thought of living “forever and ever and ever and ever and ever.” Rodrigo asked how they could get to heaven fastest, and Teresa replied that that would be through martyrdom, because the sufferings of the martyrs were nothing compared with the glory they received immediately upon death. Rodrigo asked how they could become martyrs and she said that they would need to go where the Muslims were in order to be killed by them for the faith. Rodrigo asked where the Muslims were and she told him in Morocco. And so off they went walking toward Morocco, forgetting — we can excuse 7 and 5 year olds! — the small geographical complication that there was the Mediterranean Sea between Spain and northern Africa! The got outside the city walls and as far as the ancient Roman Adaja Bridge when they were met by their Uncle Francisco coming back on his horse from hunting who asked them where they were headed. When informed they were heading to Africa to be martyred by the Moors, he told them he would give them a ride on his horse. After they hopped on, he took them back to their home! The episode shows, however, how strong young Teresa desired heaven and the path of holiness that leads there, how courageous she was from an early stage to be willing to suffer even earthly tortures — like the stories of the martyrs she read with her brother — for the eternal prize. This eschatological desire, this great hope, is something that should characterize our baptismal and priestly consecration.
    • Conversion late in life
      • The second thing we can ponder about St. Teresa is that she didn’t always order her choices to that ardent desire for holiness. She entered the Carmelite monastery when she was 20, but the house was in a spiritual malaise. Some nuns had suites of rooms, with servants and pets. Even though she started with fervor, she even got to what she would later call the fifth mansion of prayer of union, but eventually she succumbed to the prevailing lukewarmness herself, spending vast amounts of time entertaining visitors and friends in the parlor, giving herself over to various compromises with worldliness and vanity. It was only two decades later, when she was 39, that God reawakened her from her life according to the flesh, from her spiritual worldliness, from tolerating venial sins, trusting in herself, not valuing God’s grace, to a truly fervent life of the Holy Spirit. The means God used was a small gruesome statue of Jesus as he approached crucifixion, which reminded her of what Christ had suffered for her. She asked for the grace of conversion and God gave it to her. She gave herself over to God and allowed herself to be led to reform Carmelite life as a whole. God revivified her desire for holiness, for happiness, for heaven and he guided her through all the stages necessary to give her a foretaste of heavenly union here on earth through prayer. We can draw a few conclusions. First, that even with the great saints, it’s not always a straight upward trajectory. There are many occasions of conversion, but God wants us all to ponder his sufferings for us and ask for the same gift Teresa did. He won’t give a stone. We may be 39, 29 or 69, but God wants to get us back to hungering for our first love. The second thing we can learn is what put her in trouble. She’s clear about it: “I paid little attention to venial sins and that is what destroyed me.” And the reason why was because of “liberal and permissive” advice given to her by priests who would come to the convent. “What was venial sin they said was no sin at all, and what was serious mortal sin they said was venial. This did me so much harm. … I went on in this blindness for I believe more than 17 years until a Dominican Father, a very learned man, enlightened me.” That’s a point not only for our approach to venial sin but also to how we confess and guide. She says that what we need to do is to become “so determined not to offend the Lord that you would lose a thousand lives than commit venial sins.” Never to freely choose to commit even a small sin is an important turning point in the spiritual journey, she says, bcause freely choosing to betray the Lord even in a “small way” is simply not consistent with trying to live a life pleasing to him.
    • The Primacy of Prayer
      • Obviously to talk about St. Teresa of Avila is to talk about the importance, the primacy prayer. St. John Paul II said that learning the Trinitarian shape of prayer is the secret to a truly vital Christianity, that a Christian life must be marked, above all, by the art of prayer. St. Teresa is a doctor of the interior life, something that priests are called to be, men, models and master teachers of prayer.
      • Pope Francis in his letter marking her 500th Birthday this March 28: “Saint Teresa is above all teacher of prayer. Central in her experience of prayer was the discovery of the humanity of Christ. Moved by the desire to share this personal experience with others, she describes it in a vivid and simple way, available to all, because it consists simply in “a relation of friendship … with Him whom we know loves us” (Life 8, 5). Many times her account itself is transformed into prayer, as if she wished to introduce the reader in her interior dialogue with Christ. Teresa’s was not a prayer reserved only to a place or a moment of the day; it flowed spontaneously in the most diverse occasions: “It would be arduous if prayer could only be done in separated places” (Foundations , 5, 16). She was convinced of the value of continuous prayer, although not always perfect. The Saint asks us to be persevering, faithful even in the midst of aridity, personal difficulties or the pressing needs that call us.”
      • As Pope Benedict said in a catechesis on her in 2011: Praying, she says, “means being on terms of friendship with God frequently conversing in secret with him who, we know, loves us” (Vida 8, 5). St Teresa’s idea coincides with Thomas Aquinas’ definition of theological charity as “amicitia quaedam hominis ad Deum”, a type of human friendship with God, who offered humanity his friendship first; it is from God that the initiative comes (cf. Summa Theologiae II-II, 23, 1). Prayer is life and develops gradually, in pace with the growth of Christian life: it begins with vocal prayer, passes through interiorization by means of meditation and recollection, until it attains the union of love with Christ and with the Holy Trinity. Obviously, in the development of prayer climbing to the highest steps does not mean abandoning the previous type of prayer. Rather, it is a gradual deepening of the relationship with God that envelops the whole of life. Rather than a pedagogy Teresa’s is a true “mystagogy” of prayer: she teaches those who read her works how to pray by praying with them. Indeed, she often interrupts her account or exposition with a prayerful outburst.” What a great lesson for us.
      • Pope Benedict to Priests in Palermo 2010: “Dear priests, I would like to address you first of all. I know that you work with zeal and intelligence, sparing no effort. The Lord Jesus, to whom you have consecrated your life, is with you! May you always be men of prayer, so as also to be teachers of prayer. May your days be marked by times of prayer during which, modeling yourselves on Jesus, you enter into a regenerating conversation with the Father. It is not easy to stay faithful to these daily appointments with the Lord, especially today when the pace of life has become frenetic and work is ever more absorbing. Yet we must convince ourselves: time for prayer is fundamental: in prayer, divine grace acts more effectively, making the ministry fruitful. We are pressed by so many things, but if we are not inwardly in communion with God we cannot give anything to others either. We must always set aside the necessary time “to be with him” (cf. Mk 3: 14).”
      • Pope Benedict to Priests in Warsaw, 2006: “The faithful expect only one thing from priests: that they be specialists in promoting the encounter between man and God. The priest is not asked to be an expert in economics, construction or politics. He is expected to be an expert in the spiritual life. …  In the face of the temptations of relativism or the permissive society, there is absolutely no need for the priest to know all the latest, changing currents of thought; what the faithful expect from him is that he be a witness to the eternal wisdom contained in the revealed word. (Warsaw, May 25, 2006).”
    • Her example teaches us about the importance of this friendship, this conversation with God, so that we’re able to talk to others about how Christ came to befriend them and guide them mystagogically into the same friendship, the same dialogue of life.

Second Meditation

  • Margaret Mary Alacoque
    • The importance of spiritual direction and spiritual directors
      • A couple of years back I was called by a bishop in the Midwest and asked if I could come on somewhat short notice to preach his diocesan presbyterate’s annual retreat. After I said I was free and very happy to do it, we talked about the theme I was developing that year in my retreats in other dioceses as well as with retreats and lay people, Pope Benedict and the Art of Prayer. He thought that that would be great. He told me that his vicar for clergy would call me and work out all of the details. Two days later the vicar phoned and we worked out travel arrangements. Then he said, “What do you want to preach on?” I told him what I had told the bishop and that the bishop thought it was a good idea. The vicar responded, “Father, honestly, I don’t care what you preach on as long as one of your conferences is on the importance of spiritual direction in the life of priests.” I told him that I wasn’t sure that that went with the overall theme, since, although Pope Benedict had spoken on a few occasions about spiritual direction and his Congregation for Clergy had put out an important document about it, it wasn’t really an emphasis in all that he had given on prayer. The vicar was emphatic. “Again, Father, respectfully I don’t care what the other conferences are on, as long as one talk is on spiritual direction.” At that point, I didn’t really want to ask whether he and his bishop were on the same page, or who was in charge, or confess that I didn’t really have much time to do all the research on spiritual direction in the thought of Joseph Ratzinger, so I said, I’ll do the best I can. I’m happy, however, that this clergy vicar pushed me, because he had recognized what was a huge issue for the spiritual health of the priests of his diocese and in the various retreats I’ve preached to clergy since, I’ve begun to recognize that it’s a huge issue everywhere.
      • Most of us leave seminary with every intention to continue in receiving spiritual direction as we did during our discernment and throughout our seminary years. The reality is, however, that, sadly and somewhat shockingly, most parish priests don’t actually fulfill that resolution. The busy-ness of priestly life intervenes. With all our other appointments and activities, we don’t find the time to search for someone, or if we discover someone who would be good, we realize how busy he is and don’t want to bother him, or even if he consents, the craziness of priestly schedules makes it difficult to set up regular times to meet, or various other obstacles get in the way and they’re not overcome. The result is that priests don’t get the help we need. For a while, we may run off what’s been stored in the tank and then off fumes. But then our spiritual life begins to take a hit. Not only do we cease growing, but we are actually in danger.
      • Another thing happens. We’re also incapable of guiding others adequately, particularly in special circumstances. We can only give what we have. As we prepare for the Feast of St. Margaret Mary on Friday, we can examine what happened to her. As she had been receiving apparitions from Jesus, she eventually confided to her superiors and various priests came in to examine here. Some thought she was crazy. Others thought she was possessed. They hurt her quite a bit and their evaluations caused her huge problems in her community. The priest theologians who were called in were not properly trained to help her. Finally, God sent her St. Claude la Colombière, who was able to be Jesus’ instrument to tell her that she wasn’t a freak, that she wasn’t being diabolically played, but that this came from the Lord. And then he helped her fulfill what the Lord was asking of her.
      • Here’s what she wrote in her autobiography:
        • In the midst of all my fears and difficulties my heart, … I was made to speak to certain theologians, who, far from reassuring me in my way, added still more to my difficulties, until at last Our Lord sent the Rev Father de la Colombiere here. I had already spoken to him in the beginning of my religious life. My Sovereign Master had promised me shortly after I had consecrated myself to Him, that He would send me one of His servants, to whom He wished to make known according to the knowledge He would give me thereof, all the treasures and secrets of His Sacred Heart that He had confided to me. He added that He sent him to reassure me with regard to my interior way, and that He would impart to him signal graces from His Sacred Heart, showering him abundantly over our interviews. When that holy man came and was addressing the community, I interiorly heard these words: “This is he whom I send thee.”
        • I soon realized this in the first confession on the Ember days; for, although we had never either seen or spoken with each other, the Reverend Father kept me a very long time and spoke with me as though he understood what was passing within me. But I would not in anyway open my heart to him just then, and, seeing that I wished to withdraw for fear of inconveniencing the community, he asked me if I would allow him to come and speak with me again in this same place.
        • But in my natural timidity which shrank from all such communications, I replied that, not being at my own disposal, I would do whatever obedience ordered me. I then withdrew, having remained with him about an hour and a half. Before long he again returned, and although I knew it to be the Will of God that I should speak with him, I nevertheless felt an extreme repugnance to be obliged to do so. I told him so at once. He replied that he was very pleased to have given me an opportunity of making a sacrifice to God. Then without trouble or method, I opened my heart and made known to him my inmost soul, both the good and the bad; whereupon he greatly consoled me, assuring me that there was nothing to fear in the guidance of that Spirit, since It did not withdraw me from obedience; that I ought to follow Its movements, abandoning to It my whole being, sacrificing and immolating myself according to Its good pleasure.
        • At the same time he expressed his admiration at the goodness of God, in not having been repelled at so much resistance on my part. He further taught me to value the gifts of God and to receive with respect and humility the frequent communications and familiar converse with which he favored me, adding that I ought to in a continual state of thanksgiving towards such infinite goodness. I told him that as this Sovereign Lord of my soul pursued me so closely regardless of time or place, I was unable to pray vocally, and, although I did violence to myself in order to do so, I nevertheless remained sometimes without being able to pronounce a single word, especially when reciting the Rosary. He replied that I was not to force myself anymore to say vocal prayers but to be satisfied with what was of obligation, adding thereto the Rosary when I was able. Having mentioned some of the more special favours and expressions of love which I received from this Beloved of my soul, and which I refrain from describing here, he said that in all this, I had great cause to humble myself and to admire the mercy of God in my regard.
        • But as this infinite Goodness did not wish that I should receive any consolation without its costing me many humiliations, this interview drew several upon me, and the Reverend Father himself had much to suffer on my account. For it was said that I wanted to deceive him and mislead him by my illusions, as I had done others. He was, however, in no way troubled by what was said, but continued none the less to help me, not only the short time he remained in this town, but always. Many a time I have been surprised that he did not abandon me as others had done, for the way in which I acted towards him would have repulsed any other; he spared me, however neither humiliations nor mortifications, which gratified me greatly.
      • He was able to be the instrument of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in guiding her and of suffering for her to help her fulfill God’s will. St. Claude would eventually be reassigned to England for a very difficult assignment during the troubles there between Catholics and Anglicans. After being imprisoned by those against the Catholic faith, he returned to France where he was a spiritual director for young Jesuits. He continued to guide St. Margaret Mary through her letters. She said about him that “his gift is to lead souls to God.”
      • All of us need, as disciples, the help of someone else to assist us in ensuring we are really hearing the Holy Spirit’s voice in prayer. We need the help of others to encourage us to follow the true voice of the Holy Spirit when what he’s asking of us is challenge. And we priests, in particular, need to be ready and equipped to give this type of direction to others, helping them to discern whether and what God is saying to them.
      • While there are extraordinary charisms, one of the ordinary charisms priests receive and need to exercise is that of leading souls to God through spiritual direction. Many priests shirk this responsibility. I’ll never forget something that happened to me. Story of Sr. Mary Catharine. Women in Regnum Christi. So many need good directors to guide them to the Lord especially when they’re experiencing temptations and difficulties.
      • But in order to be able to give direction to others, we need to receive it. We can only give what we have. We need regularly to be guided ourselves by the Holy Spirit in spiritual direction through others in order better to cooperate with his gift of counsel in guiding others.
      • DLMP 54: Spiritual Direction for the Priest and for the Others — Along with the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the priest must also exercise the ministry of spiritual direction. The rediscovery and extension of this practice, also in moments outside of the administration of Penance, is greatly beneficial for the Church in these times.(172) The generous and active attitude of priests in practicing it also constitutes an important occasion for identifying and sustaining the vocations to the priesthood and to the various forms of consecrated life. In order to contribute to the improvement of their spirituality it is necessary that they themselves practice spiritual direction. By placing the formation of their soul in the hands of a wise fellow-member, they will enlighten the conscience, from the first steps in the ministry, and realize the importance of not walking alone along the paths of spiritual life and pastoral duties. In making use of this efficacious means of formation, so well-founded in the Church, priests will have full freedom in choosing the person who will guide them.
      • Pope Benedict emphasized similar points when he met with young priests and transitional deacons in March 2009 both in terms of their receiving spiritual direction and being ready to give it by the type of life and study that will capacity them for this important work:
      • “These days, the correct formation of believers’ consciences is without a doubt one of the pastoral priorities”; and he adds: “‘Spiritual direction’ also contributes to forming consciences. Today there is a greater need than in the past for wise and holy ‘spiritual teachers’: an important ecclesial service. This of course requires an inner vitality that must be implored as a gift from the Holy Spirit in intense and prolonged prayer and with a special training that must be acquired with care. Every priest moreover is called to administer divine mercy in the sacrament of Penance, through which he forgives sins in the name of Christ and helps the penitent to walk on the demanding path of holiness with an upright and informed conscience. To be able to carry out this indispensable ministry, every priest must tend to his own spiritual life and take care to keep himself pastorally and theologically up to date” (March 14, 2009)
      • That’s the first point I’d like to make. To live out our consecration, we need the Lord’s guidance, and if we’re going to be priests after his heart, we need to be his capable instruments, guided by the Holy Spirit’s gift of counsel, to guide others.
  • Repairing for the wounds to Christ’s Sacred Heart
    • Because Jesus has a human heart, however, that heart can be broken, and it has been — and not just when it was pierced with a lance upon the Cross. Jesus told St. Margaret Mary as much when he appeared to her in 1675, because the burning love of his heart for us so often goes totally unrequited. Pointing to his heart, he said to her, “Behold the heart which has so much loved men that it has spared nothing, even exhausting and consuming itself in testimony of its love. Instead of gratitude, I receive from most only indifference, by irreverence and sacrilege and the coldness and scorn that men have for me in the sacrament of love.” He wants love. He wants adoration. Not because he’s an emotional hypochondriac, but because he loves us and wants us to be in a situation where we can be transformed by him through the Sacrament of His Love.
      • The sacrament of love he was referring to was, of course, the Eucharist. This was the reason why Jesus wanted the Feast of the Sacred Heart established within the octave of the feast of Corpus Christi, so that a reparation of love and adoration could be done by the Church in response to the glacial indifference with which his abiding Eucharistic love is met. It’s no surprise that he told St. Margaret Mary that that reparation should take a particularly Eucharistic form in the practice of frequent communion, especially on first Fridays, as well as by a vigil of prayerful adoration on Thursdays in memory of his agony and desertion.
      • It’s important to stress that Jesus was asking not for devotion, not merely recognition, of his sacred humanity and burning love. For him it was not enough that people know that he loved them passionately enough to take on our humanity, redeem it and then remain with us until the end of time in the Eucharist; he desired for that knowledge to pass from their heads, to their hearts, to their knees, to all parts of their lives. Much like what the Lord did with the feast of Corpus Christi in the 13th century and of Divine Mercy in the 20th — creating the occasion for belief in his real presence in the Eucharist and in our need for his mercy to pass from knowledge to ardent love — so with the revelation of his Sacred Heart, he wanted us to adore his sacred humanity and merciful love all in one, not in plaster statues, but in the Eucharist.
      • What I would like to focus on now is the continuation of Jesus’ words to St. Margaret Mary that are often excised when people focus on the message of the Sacred Heart, because it has a particular relevance to this Year of Consecrated Life. After the Lord Jesus had described how from most, he receives only indifference, irreverence, sacrilege, coldness and scorn, he said, “But what I feel the most keenly is that it is hearts that are consecrated to me that treat me in this way!” What pains Jesus most in his sacred humanity is that those who are specially consecrated to him — priests, religious, other consecrated men and women — likewise treat him with apathy, impiety, frigidity, contempt, blasphemy and desecration. We are the ones who should respond to his gift of love with real love in return, but we don’t. We know that there are whole communities of consecrated women who don’t even go to Mass because they believe the priesthood is a patriarchal institution. There are priests who don’t celebrate Mass — or even attend — except when they have to. There are others who sacrilegiously receive him in a state of sin and give him to those who are objectively living in situations of sin. There are others — and many of us who meet them — who refer to Jesus as “bread” and “wine,” who teach that the sacrament of his loving self-giving is nothing other than a ritual meal. So many consecrated men and women simply take Jesus for granted and this is a far greater betrayal of love than what happens by the average Catholic or human being. Many average Catholics are like the disciples in Capernaum who walked away from the Lord after he had told them about the greatest gift ever, that he would give them his body to eat and blood to drink. But when we don’t treat Jesus in the Eucharist as he deserves to be treated, it’s much more like the betrayal of Judas. And so we come to say sorry and to do reparation, recognizing that through reparation we begin to repair the damage, in ourselves and in the Church, by admitting what has been going on and setting out to fix it. As priests we have a special role in carrying out this reparation.
  • As priests and future priests, we have a particular role in carrying out this reparation, for ourselves and for our people.
  • The best way we can do so his to do the opposite of what Jesus says wounds him.
    • Jesus said that “most” treat him with indifference. In contrast, he wants us to treat him in the Mass as the greatest difference-maker in our life, as our true priority, as the “source and summit” of our life, the fulcrum of our week and day.
    • He declared that most treat him with irreverence. We see this in the way priests sometimes celebrate Mass with little or no devotion. All of this pains Jesus. In contrast, for our sake, he wants us to treat him with deep piety.
    • Jesus then said most treat him with coldness. We see this in the way many celebrate Mass without enthusiasm, as bored and distracted officials spectators rather than ardent participants. Christ wants us more passionate about him at the Mass than the most fanatical Cubs fans are during a successful playoff run. He wants us singing, sincerely meaning the prayers we say, treating others at Mass with us with warmth and love. When we don’t, he’s wounded.
    • He added that most treat him with scorn. It’s shown in the way some speak disdainfully about Jesus in the Eucharist, calling Eucharistic adoration “cookie worship” or the tabernacle “the bread box.” It’s shown in the way some priests and extraordinary ministers mishandle the Eucharistic particles or the Precious Blood.
    • Jesus finally talked about sacrilege, seen most commonly by people’s, including priests’, receiving him without being in the state of grace. Most of us would never invite a guest over for dinner to a filthy house, but many receive Jesus with souls in need of thorough purification through the sacrament of his mercy. We likewise see it when priests celebrate Mass while living double-lives or when ministers of Holy Communion knowingly give Holy Communion to those who are obstinately persistent in manifest grave sin. Jesus wants, rather, for us to receive and share him in a sacred, not a sacrilegious way.
  • Jesus wants to make our hearts like unto his. He wants to transform us, to educate our hearts to love him and to love like him. The best way we train to do so is by receiving and adoring Jesus in the Eucharist with precedence, piety, passion, praise and purity — in short, by treating him as he deserves.
  • The Sacred Heart and the Priesthood
    • “Le sacerdoce, c’est l’amour du Coeur de Jésus,” John Vianney famously taught. “The priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus.” Jesus, the eternal high priest, appeared to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque to reveal to her, and through her to us and the whole Church, the depths of his priestly heart. In our lives as priests and those preparing to be priests we’re called to have more than a devotion to Christ’s Sacred Heart. We’re called to become Christ’s arteries, allowing the love of the heart of Christ to flow through us in the world. Therefore, it’s crucial in our priesthood that we understand profoundly what Christ did in order for us to grasp what Christ wants of us as disciples and apostles. The priest is ordained not just in persona Christi capitis ecclesiae but at the same time in corde Christi amantis!
    • Because the priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus, for a priest to be holy, he must be filled to overflowing with the love of Jesus’ heart. This is something that the Popes have stressed since 2002, the year of the revelations of the clerical sexual abuse crises, when the Church instituted a world day of prayer for the sanctification of priests on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart.
      • Pope Pius X said, “Every priestly vocation comes from the heart of God.”
      • When Pope John Paul II inaugurated the first year of prayer for the Sanctification of Priests, he told us that the reason the solemnity of the Sacred Heart was chosen was “because the feast of the Sacred Heart celebrates God’s merciful love, that becomes tangible for priests in the Eucharistic Mystery, which they celebrate daily, and in the sacramental pardon which they administer and receive.”
  • Pope Benedict reiterated the connection at the beginning of the Year for Priests. “How can we fail to remember that the gift our priestly ministry springs directly from this heart?… the mystery of the heart of a God who is moved and pours out his love on all humanity…He does not give up in the face of ingratitude and not even in the face of rejection by the people He has chosen.” He continued, “In the heart of Christ, the essential nucleus of Christianity is expressed… and given to us: The love that has saved us helps us to live already in the eternity of God…. His divine heart calls to our hearts: it invites us to come out of ourselves, to abandon our human securities to trust ourselves in Him and following his example, make of ourselves a gift of unrestrained love.” That divine call, of his heart speaking to our heart, is a call to conversion, to an exodus, to a passover from the heart of the old Adam to the heart of the New.
  • Let’s let the heart of Christ speak to us now and draw us out, draw us into his love, and renew us as his priestly arteries bring his Precious Blood, every drop of which is sufficient to redeem the whole world, out to that world.
  • We come here before the host that was consecrated by one of us. During this Year of Consecrated Life, we priests enter intimately into Christ’s consecration in the Upper Room so that we might be consecrated in the truth. Every Mass is an opportunity for us to renew our consecration to Christ as we consecrate Bread and Wine into Christ’s own body and blood, which is the tangible sign of his own consecration for us and our salvation. This is what strengthened Saints Teresa and Margaret Mary and will strengthen us so that we, and others with us, may with them, come to worship him forever and ever and ever.

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