Thursday, August 21, 2014



                                      {A letter for a friend about to enter the seminary}

Dear Brother and Friend, how I chuckled interiorly the other day when you asked me to review an essay for your blog and we had the discussion about ‘waiter’ and ‘server’ and you said nowadays waiter is not the term, server is – I chuckled because when I was an altar boy many decades ago we were know as ‘altar servers’ not ‘altar waiters’!

So, belatedly I concede server is the better word – especially for one heading to priesthood for above all else we might consider about priesthood being servant, like Jesus Himself who came to serve and NOT to be served, as priests we must always serve and NEVER seek, nor expect, to be served.

Over the past week since we said our goodbyes as you headed off on the great adventure-pilgrimage towards priesthood I have found myself reflecting anew on the gift and mystery of priesthood.

You will find the seminary library filled with books by Fathers of the Church, Popes, bishops, priests, saints, and some of those saints extraordinary laymen and women, far more articulate than I would ever claim to be about such a stupendous vocation, such an unmerited gift, such an inexhaustible chalice of joy – which of course we carry in the earthen vessel we are.

Steep yourself in the wisdom and grace of such texts. Take them to heart and strive to follow the wise counsels therein, but above all deep in prayer be attentive always to the Holy Spirit, never let go of the hand of Christ, stay deep in childlike confidence in the presence and love of Mary, Mother of Priests.

After thirty years of priesthood I can assure you I am but a mere beginner. Ordination is an event, the indelible and irreversible transfiguration, transformation, sanctification of a mere man, by the power of the Holy Spirit, into the very person of Christ.

Just as the externals of the bread and wine at the consecration show no apparent visible change the reality we know is that bread and wine are no longer what they appear but have become in truth Jesus: Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, Jesus Risen from the Dead therefore He feeds us, permeates us with His very glorified self.

Ordination does not heal emotions, prevent sinning, reduce waist lines, impart unshakeable faith or grant some type of magical powers.

Ordination makes of a mere man another Christ, configures us so we fit well with Him upon the Cross, enables us to exercise in His Person, with His authority, sacramental efficacy, especially to dispense mercy in confession and to feed our brothers and sisters with His Self-Gift in the Holy Eucharist and therefore I beg you once you are ordained willingly 24/7 be available for confession and daily celebrate Holy Mass.

Be in the confessional every day even if no one comes – allow you heart to experience His own Heart aching for the return of the Prodigal and if/when some prodigal approaches welcome them with open arms, with love, joy, compassion.

Celebrate daily Mass, even if no one shows up – for the power of Holy Mass extends throughout the entire universe, to the throne of God, into every human life on earth, to the awaiting souls in purgatory.

Be not a priest of the rectory but of the streets and the homes, the offices and the factories, hospitals and prisons, nursing homes and the alleyways and ravines and other places where those who, like Jesus who had nowhere to lay His head, await in hope.

Be not a priest of career or ambition, of ease or fine food, of vacations in excess or more at ease in the homes of the rich and powerful, rather be a priest of humility and poverty, of rejoicing amongst the poor.

If the rich and powerful befriend you so they can help you serve the poor and serve the poor themselves then by all means be present to them, but if being with them tempts you to pride or ease, flee!

Be a priest however who seeks the poverty hidden behind wealth and power, and seek to understand and serve those who are hiddenly poor with the same passion and compassion as you will serve the more visibly poor.

Be a priest of ceaseless prayer, interceding for an end to the evils and hatreds, the violence and death, the oppression and starvation, the plagues and wars, the abortions and other murders, the addictions and loneliness which wound and burden countless of our brothers and sisters.

Be a priest who embraces with joy the Cross, the gift and mystery of suffering and struggle, be a priest confident in Divine Mercy, trusting of grace, courageous in fidelity, consistently every moment of every day willingly laying down your life, by serving always, by martyrdom if He asks, be it the martyrdom of loneliness, rejection, sickness, isolation or, as possible in this day and age, by blood.

Be a priest fearless before the face of evil, confident in your priestly power, His power, to cast asunder evil spirits, to ripe to shreds the curtain of darkness with the Light of Christ, to overcome the culture of death with the Gospel of Life.

Be a priest who is a true son of the Blessed Virgin Mary, giving all of yourself to Jesus through Her in absolute service of our brothers and sisters and thus you will always be a priest of joy!