Saturday, August 4, 2018
Today, in Mercy, we hear again about John the Baptist, the greatest prophet and preacher of all time, other than Jesus. John was so powerful that Herod thought he had come back from the dead to punish Herod’s sins.
Today is also the feast of St. John Vianney, popularly known as the “Curé d’Ars”. John was a simple and vibrantly devout parish priest in 19th century France. His humble holiness so transformed souls that he is considered the model and patron saint of all priests. St. John Vianney not only said, but lived, this statement:
“The priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus.
When you see a priest, think of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
God knows we need the influence of this saintly man today in the Catholic Church. It is a time when many have lost faith in the priesthood because of the heinous sins of some. That loss of faith is inevitably tied to our sacramental life. It is a tragic and profound bereavement.
Our society suffers a similar foundational trauma in so many other areas. When people of my age were young, we could trust our priests, our doctors, our police officers, our bankers, our government to safeguard our good. That trust has eroded in this time of exposure of deep-rooted, extensive corruption in once trusted institutions.
How do we restore our faith in the Church and other service institutions we have loved? We have already begun some of the work in the Church, but there is still much to be done. The work may serve as a model for other institutions:
- Name and confront the corruption
- Remove the structures, myths and attitudes which allow corruption to thrive
- Declericalize and humanize the priesthood – flatten the “power tower”
- Support the full participation of women in all societal roles.
- Redefine “priest” as simply one in the community of believers.
- Pray for the many good priests who are suffering from the stigma of their errant peers and support them by our vital commitment to true Christian community.
Today, let’s pray together the prayer of St. John Vianney:
God, please give to your Church today
many more priests after your own heart.
May they be worthy representatives of Christ the Good Shepherd.
May they wholeheartedly devote themselves to prayer and penance;
be examples of humility and poverty;
shining models of holiness;
tireless and powerful preachers of the Word of God;
zealous dispensers of your grace in the sacraments.
May their loving devotion to your Son Jesus in the Eucharist
and to Mary his Mother
be the twin fountains of fruitfulness for their ministry.
Music: Philippians Canticle ~ John Michael Talbot
This hymn reflects the true nature of the priesthood of Jesus Christ