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Archive for the ‘priesthood’ Category

    I went to a priest’s funeral reception and Mass yesterday evening. The priest had been in my year at seminary, he is the first of the year to die. There was an honest appraisal given of the struggle of the priesthood experienced by the priest, who had died, in a lovely homily preached by the dean of Wolverhampton Fr Carrick. The priest was only 59 when he died and it was such a shame, as he had struggled with his demons during his ministry. Despite weakness and struggle, he was loved and he inspired others. Often despite weakness and flaws that assail a priest, the Lord is able to touch the lives of others. In weakness and exposed humanity, a soul laid bare can still be a grace for others on their journey to the Lord. The Mass for me was a sad occasion as I reflected upon my inability to have made a difference to this man’s struggle. But it was also hopeful as I listened to words describing the care and love both given and received by Fr Brendan. Eternal rest grant unto Fr Brendan O Lord. May he now be at rest and finally find peace. Amen
I reflect today upon the phrase chosen to describe the ministry of my deceased brother priest. He was engaged in the “Struggle of the Priesthood.”  There is the reality of priesthood that includes the weaknesses of the man, the flaws of character, the failings. These realities live in tension with the struggle for holiness, for patience, for understanding, for sensitivity, for compassion and for the ideal of the priest, who is set apart from others to be an example. Living up to the ideal of the calling to priesthood is a struggle indeed.
When weaknesses are laid bare a number of reactions can be seen by parishioners, by friends, by family, a sense of support can envelope the priest, a covering of compassion, of prayer too can be extended to the priest. Others may not be so understanding and a harshness of criticism can further wound a damaged soul.
I feel the security of the priesthood rests in my relationship with Christ. This means being honest about my limits, my weakness, my sins. It involves celebrating my gifts and my skills as a priest. It means allowing praise not to inflate my pride and yet to accept praise for what it is, an encouragement and an affirmation. My security comes when I know that I am not going to please everyone or change the world for the better! It involves not despairing but remaining hopeful. It involves trusting in God and abandoning my fate, my will to his providence. Through the Mass and the sacraments, Christ touches his people, his grace abounds, despite my failings or great achievements as a priest.
The priesthood is a great life, it truly has its rewards and its joys. There is a sense of fulfilment and it brings happiness. These attributes come as brief interludes of the light of clarity amidst the darkness of the uncertainties of the struggles of living up to the calling of priesthood. Being real about the priesthood means to be realistic about my humanity.
The struggle is in the abandoning of who I am to Christ, this takes more years than I will be given to live here on earth! Prayers for all the holy Souls during November are timely, please pray for your priests who have died, as prayer is that wonderful covering of grace that carries us along to eternity.
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A prayer the community recites every Friday, throughout the year, together with the lay faithful who comes to 6:30am Mass in our chapel is the Prayer for Priests…

Whether you’re near or far, do be one with us in supporting vocations to the Priesthood and in continually praying for Priests throughout the world.

PRAYER FOR PRIESTS

O Almighty God, our Father, look upon the face of your Son, and for love of Him who is the eternal High Priest, have pity on your priests.

Remember, O most compassionate God, that they are but weak and frail human beings. Stir up in them the grace of their vocation which is in them by the imposition of the Bishop’s hands.

Keep them ever close to you, lest the enemy prevail against them, so that they may never do anything in the slightest degree unworthy of their sublime vocation.

Jesus, our eternal High Priest, I pray for your faithful and fervent priests; for your unfaithful and tepid priests; for your priests laboring at home or abroad in distant mission fields; for your tempted priests; for young priests; for your dying priests; and for the souls of your priests in purgatory.

But above all, I commend to you priests dearest to me: the priest who baptized me; the priests who absolved me from my sins; the priests at whose Masses I assist; the priests who give me your Body and Blood in Holy Communion; the priests who taught and instructed me about you and your Holy Scriptures; the priests who helped and encouraged me to accept you as my Lord and Savior; and all the priests whom you sent to touch my life and those of my loved ones. Amen.

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