armaghpriest
by armaghpriest.com on May 6th, 2020

n the latest of our seminarian interviews, Bartek talks about how he kept the call to priesthood very quiet initially!

by armaghpriest.com on May 3rd, 2020


by armaghpriest.com on May 3rd, 2020

MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS FOR THE 2020 WORLD DAY OF VOCATIONS


Words of Vocation

 
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

On 4 August last year, the 160th anniversary of the death of the Curé of Ars, I chose to write a letter to all those priests who daily devote their lives to the service of God’s people in response to the Lord’s call.

On that occasion, I chose four key words – pain, gratitude, encouragement and praise – as a way of thanking priests and supporting their ministry. I believe that today, on this 57th World Day of Prayer for Vocations, those words can be addressed to the whole people of God, against the backdrop of the Gospel passage that recounts for us the remarkable experience of Jesus and Peter during a stormy night on the Sea of Galilee (cf. Mt 14:22-33).

After the multiplication of the loaves, which had astonished the crowds, Jesus told his disciples to get into the boat and precede him to the other shore, while he took leave of the people. The image of the disciples crossing the lake can evoke our own life’s journey. Indeed, the boat of our lives slowly advances, restlessly looking for a safe haven and prepared to face the perils and promises of the sea, yet at the same time trusting that the helmsman will ultimately keep us on the right course. At times, though, the boat can drift off course, misled by mirages, not the lighthouse that leads it home, and be tossed by the tempests of difficulty, doubt and fear.

Something similar takes place in the hearts of those who, called to follow the Teacher of Nazareth, have to undertake a crossing and abandon their own security to become the Lord’s disciples. The risk involved is real: the night falls, the headwinds howl, the boat is tossed by the waves, and fear of failure, of not being up to the call, can threaten to overwhelm them.

The Gospel, however, tells us that in the midst of this challenging journey we are not alone. Like the first ray of dawn in the heart of the night, the Lord comes walking on the troubled waters to join the disciples; he invites Peter to come to him on the waves, saves him when he sees him sinking and, once in the boat, makes the winds die down.

The first word of vocation, then, is gratitude. Taking the right course is not something we do on our own, nor does it depend solely on the road we choose to travel. How we find fulfilment in life is more than a decision we make as isolated individuals; above all else, it is a response to a call from on high. The Lord points out our destination on the opposite shore and he grants us the courage to board the boat. In calling us, he becomes our helmsman; he accompanies and guides us; he prevents us from running aground on the shoals of indecision and even enables us to walk on surging waters.

Every vocation is born of that gaze of love with which the Lord came to meet us, perhaps even at a time when our boat was being battered by the storm. “Vocation, more than our own choice, is a response to the Lord’s unmerited call” (Letter to Priests, 4 August 2019). We will succeed in discovering and embracing our vocation once we open our hearts in gratitude and perceive the passage of God in our lives.

When the disciples see Jesus walking towards them on the sea, they first think that he is a ghost and are filled with fear. Jesus immediately reassures them with words that should constantly accompany our lives and our vocational journey: “Take heart, it is I; have no fear” (Mt 14:27). This, then, is the second word I wish to offer you: encouragement.

What frequently hinders our journey, our growth, our choosing the road the Lord is marking out for us, are certain “ghosts” that trouble our hearts. When we are called to leave safe shores and embrace a state of life – like marriage, ministerial priesthood, consecrated life – our first reaction is often from the “ghost of disbelief”. Surely, this vocation is not for me! Can this really be the right path? Is the Lord really asking me to do this?

Those thoughts can keep growing – justifications and calculations that sap our determination and leave us hesitant and powerless on the shore where we started. We think we might be wrong, not up to the challenge, or simply glimpsing a ghost to be exorcized.

The Lord knows that a fundamental life choice – like marriage or special consecration to his service – calls for courage. He knows the questions, doubts and difficulties that toss the boat of our heart, and so he reassures us: “Take heart, it is I; have no fear!” We know in faith that he is present and comes to meet us, that he is ever at our side even amid stormy seas. This knowledge sets us free from that lethargy which I have called “sweet sorrow” (Letter to Priests, 4 August 2019), the interior discouragement that hold us back from experiencing the beauty of our vocation.

In the Letter to Priests, I also spoke about pain, but here I would like to translate the word differently, as fatigue. Every vocation brings with it a responsibility. The Lord calls us because he wants to enable us, like Peter, to “walk on water”, in other words, to take charge of our lives and place them at the service of the Gospel, in the concrete and everyday ways that he shows us, and specifically in the different forms of lay, priestly and consecrated vocation. Yet, like Saint Peter, our desire and enthusiasm coexist with our failings and fears.

If we let ourselves be daunted by the responsibilities that await us – whether in married life or priestly ministry – or by the hardships in store for us, then we will soon turn away from the gaze of Jesus and, like Peter, we will begin to sink. On the other hand, despite our frailty and poverty, faith enables us to walk towards the Risen Lord and to weather every storm. Whenever fatigue or fear make us start to sink, Jesus holds out his hand to us. He gives us the enthusiasm we need to live our vocation with joy and fervour.

When Jesus at last boards the boat, the winds die down and the waves are calmed. Here we have a beautiful image of what the Lord can do at times of turbulence and tempest in our lives. He stills those winds, so that the forces of evil, fear and resignation no longer have power over us.

As we live out our specific vocation, those headwinds can wear us down. Here I think of all those who have important responsibilities in civil society, spouses whom I like to refer to – not without reason – as “courageous”, and in a particular way those who have embraced the consecrated life or the priesthood. I am conscious of your hard work, the sense of isolation that can at times weigh upon your hearts, the risk of falling into a rut that can gradually make the ardent flame of our vocation die down, the burden of the uncertainty and insecurity of the times, and worry about the future. Take heart, do not be afraid! Jesus is at our side, and if we acknowledge him as the one Lord of our lives, he will stretch out his hand, take hold of us and save us.

Even amid the storm-tossed waters, then, our lives become open to praise. This is the last of our vocation words, and it is an invitation to cultivate the interior disposition of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Grateful that Lord gazed upon her, faithful amid fear and turmoil, she courageously embraced her vocation and made of her life an eternal song of praise to the Lord.

Dear friends, on this day in particular, but also in the ordinary pastoral life of our communities, I ask the Church to continue to promote vocations. May she touch the hearts of the faithful and enable each of them to discover with gratitude God’s call in their lives, to find courage to say “yes” to God, to overcome all weariness through faith in Christ, and to make of their lives a song of praise for God, for their brothers and sisters, and for the whole world. May the Virgin Mary accompany us and intercede for us.


Franciscus

by armaghpriest.com on May 3rd, 2020

On this World Day of Prayer for Vocations, 3 of our diocesan priests speak about what priesthood means to them.

by armaghpriest.com on May 2nd, 2020

Prayer of the Faithful for Vocations
to the Priesthood & Religious Life
May 2020



May 3rd: Fourth Sunday of Easter
(Day of Prayer for Vocations)

That like the man born blind, we will allow Jesus to open our eyes and hearts to His will and to inspire more men and women to respond to His call to serve Him and His Church as priests, deacons and in the consecrated life…Lord, hear us…


May 10th: Fifth Sunday of Easter
That all Catholic parents will draw close to Mary and nurture openness to the Holy Spirit in the Lord’s call to their children, especially should He honour them with vocations to the priesthood or consecrated life…Lord, hear us…

May 17th: Sixth Sunday of Easter
That the Holy Spirit will guide and comfort men and women discerning their vocations…Lord, hear us…

May 24th: The Ascension of the Lord
That Christ, from his seat in heaven, will bless and guide all those being called to serve Him as priests, deacons, sisters and brothers…Lord, hear us…

May 31st: Pentecost Sunday
That those now discerning their vocations will be guided by the Holy Spirit to respond to the Lord’s call with generous hearts…Lord, hear us…




by armaghpriest.com on May 2nd, 2020

Our own Bishop Michael Router speaks about the unique call of the Lord for each of us.

by armaghpriest.com on March 10th, 2020

This Novena, from St. Joseph's Young Priests' Society, can be undertaken at any time of the year and especially beginning or ending on March 19th (Feast of St. Joseph) or May 1st (Feast of St. Joseph the Worker).

by armaghpriest.com on March 6th, 2020

At a recent Priests Conference, Archbishop Eamon Martin launched a Brochure on Priesthood in the Archdiocese of Armagh. The Brochure which was created by members of the Diocesan Vocations Commission features three priests of the diocese and it’s a resource to promote the Vocation to Priesthood. Present for the Launch and the Conference were Fr Willie Purcell, National Director of Vocations and Deacon Eric Cooney, Director of the National Vocations Office, Maynooth.

by armaghpriest.com on March 6th, 2020


by armaghpriest.com on March 2nd, 2020

Prayer of the Faithful to Promote the Call to Priesthood

March 2020 (Year A)

1st March: First Sunday of Lent
That prayer, penance and almsgiving will dispose more men and women to follow the Holy Spirit as He leads them to discover their vocations in Christ…

8th March: Second Sunday of Lent
For all our priests, who bring us to the mountain of Christ at every Mass and feed us with His transforming love in the sacraments…

15th March: Third Sunday of Lent
For all those thirsting to know their vocations in Christ, that they will be open to the waters of prayer and drink fully of the Holy Spirit who leads them…

17th March: St. Patrick, Bishop, Principal Patron of Ireland

That, through the intercession of Saint Patrick, those discerning the call to priesthood in our archdiocese may experience the guiding and wise presence of Christ with them on their journey…

22nd March: Fourth Sunday of Lent
That like the man born blind, we will allow Jesus to open our eyes and hearts to His will and to inspire more men and women to respond to His call to serve Him and His Church as priests, deacons and in the consecrated life…

29th March: Fifth Sunday of Lent
That priests, deacons, sisters and brothers who, for the sake of Christ, have suffered the loss of all things, will be strengthened in their vocations to bring many souls to the knowledge of salvation…


by armaghpriest.com on February 28th, 2020

A “Come and See Weekend” will take place on Saturday 16 th and Sunday 17 th May 2020 in St Patrick’s College, Maynooth for those who are thinking about Diocesan Priesthood. 

It will be an opportunity for men (18 years and older) to come together, to reflect more on the call to Diocesan Priesthood. 

Those who join for the weekend will have an opportunity to meet with other Seminarians and Priests and ask questions and there will be some time for worship and prayer. 

There will be no cost for the weekend and accommodation and meals will be provided. For further information about the weekend you can email info@vocations.ie or you can contact your local Diocesan Vocations Director at pmcanenly21@gmail.com or call Fr Peter at 028 37522802


by armaghpriest.com on January 18th, 2020

Prayer of the Faithful
to Promote the Call to Priesthood
January 2020 (Year A)

5th January: Second Sunday of Christmas
That all those discerning the call to follow the Lord as priests, deacons or in the consecrated life may know that they have been chosen in Christ for His own kind purposes…

6th January: The Epiphany of the Lord
That all those called to share the promise of the Gospel of Christ Jesus through their vocations as priests, deacons, sisters and brothers, will do so with humble confidence in the commission of God’s grace which has been given to them…

12th January: The Baptism of the Lord
That, like John the Baptist, all those called by the Lord to serve His Church will accept His invitation…

19th January: Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lord, we know that You call us to our vocation from the moment of our baptism. Help young men and women answer this call most faithfully…

26th January: Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
For all men and women called by Jesus to teach the Gospel as priests, deacons, sisters and brothers, that the joy of the Lord will remain their strength during their discernment, formation and mission…



by armaghpriest.com on January 9th, 2020


What is it like being a priest these days?

It is sometimes sitting in a folding chair listening to your school kids singing Christmas songs.
It is sometimes standing by the bedside of person drawing their last breath in this life.
It is sometimes being amazed that you are holding the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ at Mass.
It is sometimes feeling totally unworthy to do so.



It is sometimes being in the pulpit wondering if anyone is listening.
It is sometimes being in the pulpit being very aware that people are listening.
It is sometimes being the strong one in a room full of grieving people.
It is sometimes resting your head on your steering wheel trying to collect yourself after such moments.

It is sometimes the joy of a baptism.
It is sometimes the sorrow of a funeral.
It is sometimes eating a great meal at a parishioner’s house.
It is sometimes getting to the end of the day trying to remember if you’ve eaten anything today.

It is sometimes the joy of helping the prodigal son come home.
It is sometimes the sorrow of watching a defiant prodigal son leave.
It is sometimes the hours of prayer which keep you afloat.
It is sometimes the pain of scandal which drags you down.

It is sometimes getting up and knowing you are stepping on to a battlefield.
It is sometimes moments of incredible grace.
It is sometimes moments walking in the valley of death.

It is sometimes being respected.
It is sometimes being scorned.
It is sometimes speaking words of comfort.
It is sometimes speaking unwelcome words calling people to conversion.

It is sometimes being praised for your service.
It is sometimes being called every name in the book for telling the truth.
Lived correctly, it is always about being a servant in Persona Christi.

It is difficult but rewarding.
It is a constant call to give witness.
It is willingly being the poster child for being countercultural.
It is about dying to self intentionally every day.
It is about making God’s grace available as much as possible.

It is not for the thin-skinned or faint of heart.
It is not for the worldly and ambitious.

It is not a job or career.
It is a way of life.

I would have it no other way.

Fr. Bill Peckman


Sourced from: https://churchpop.com/2019/11/03/why-its-totally-worth-it-a-catholic-priests-moving-testimony-about-living-his-vocation/


by armaghpriest.com on November 11th, 2019

From America: The Jesuit Review (link below)

Father George Elliott is a priest of the Diocese of Tyler, Tex., and president of a Catholic multimedia ministry called CAST. He is author of the recent book “Discernment Do’s and Don’ts: A Practical Guide to Vocational Discernment.” American Catholics celebrate National Vocation Awareness Week on Nov. 3-9 this year. On July 31, the Feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola, I interviewed Father Elliott by telephone about discernment. The following transcript of our conversation has been edited for style and length.

How do you understand discernment?

Discernment is fundamentally about understanding the will of God for a particular person in a particular time and situation.

What are some of the “discernment do’s” you write about?

First, just being yourself. Oftentimes people trying to discern a vocation will pretend to be someone else, whether [while] dating someone or attending a discernment retreat. It’s God’s call for you, so be yourself.

Second, focus on your desire for holiness. If you’re not going for that end goal, the path by which you go will usually not be sound. Third, develop a life of prayer for its own sake, not just to get answers. Sometimes people pray to know the answer to discernment without developing a relationship with God for its own sake.

What are some of the “discernment don’ts” you write about?

Don’t choose a vocation to make someone else happy. Sometimes young people are more concerned about what parents, friends or relatives think. Doing the will of God is what makes a person happy, not doing what others want.

Also, don’t think God has to answer your prayers and tell you your vocation within the time limit you set. God works on his own time and his timing is wiser than ours. Discernment unfolds at God’s pace.


There are many Catholic works on discernment out there, but the subtitle of your recent book promises a “practical guide.” What’s practical about your approach to discernment?

Specifically that I offer actionable items. I often find good guides on the theory or theology of discernment; however, the real actionable items understandable to a young person discerning a vocation are few and far between.

What kinds of actionable items do you offer?

Concrete examples of how to strive for holiness, how to practice prayer in your life, how to get to know role models in different religious and married vocations, and concrete things we can look to as signs to take the next step.

Can you give an example?

One real experience I talk about involves a friend who did a lot in campus ministry when we were in college. He was talking about discerning his vocation, but he hadn’t been attending Sunday Mass. Attending Sunday Mass is a prerequisite for discerning your vocation really well.

What’s one story that illustrates for you a good discernment?

I had a friend discerning religious life but taking a long time to do it, and she was close to a particular religious order that everyone knew made sense for her. She knew them, she worked for them, but she just refused to move forward with the discernment. In sitting with her and challenging her, she revealed to me that the only reason she didn’t want to be a sister with them was that “the habits are ugly.” So she entered, realized she wasn’t really called to it, and then left and got married shortly after. Talking through her reasons helped move things along.

What’s one story that illustrates for you a bad discernment?

I have another friend in his 50s who has gone on every discernment you can imagine, gone on one or two dates with all sorts of different girls and is living a perpetual bachelor life. He’s developed a prayer life and everything else; he’s just paralyzed from acting by his fear of commitment.

What helps overcome procrastination in discernment?

In the book, I talk about tools to use to achieve “sufficient certainty” for taking the next step. Many young people want to be absolutely certain before committing to something, even something as simple as a date or entering a seminary, because they think the first step means forever. But the first step is just the first step in the testing period; it’s not a commitment to anything beyond that.

Who are your role models, either living or dead, for discernment?

Certainly, St. Ignatius of Loyola is one. I studied patristics and I also like a lot of the advice given by the Desert Fathers. Then there’s St. John Cassian, St. Jerome and St. Augustine.

How do you pray in your own life when you want to discern a big or small choice?

The first thing I do is search for peace in understanding what’s going on. I talk in the book about aligning one’s heart with the will of God—something that comes from Ignatius—and continually asking for the desire to love more as he recommends. If there’s peace there about a given decision, it’s a good sign. If not, some more questions need to be asked. I want to purify my motives.

People often look to Jesuits for discernment help, and the Jesuit bishop Álvaro Corrada del Río led your diocese from 2000 to 2011 before being transferred to Puerto Rico. What did you learn about discernment from Bishop Corrada del Río?

He accepted me as a seminarian, so I have great affection for him. One thing I learned from him is that God is completely free…. Therefore, we need to allow God to be free and follow his desires for us wherever they go. We can’t put God in a box.

Another lesson he taught me is that the process of discernment is never wasted time. If we spend seven years in the seminary and discern out of it at the end, that’s perfectly fine: Now the church has a well-formed man even if he’s not a priest.


What have you learned about discernment from your own life and ministry?


One is that God will sometimes lead us down certain paths, not just to get us into a certain vocation but to learn something about ourselves or about a particular charism he has in store for us. Another is that, in my ministry, I’ve realized a lot of people think discernment is more complicated than it is. It’s not something to be afraid of. Thirdly, we cannot discern well if we walk into the conversation with a priori ideas or dispositions about what we want for a person’s life.

Any final thoughts?

The idea of this book is to answer this question of young people: “I’m interested in discerning my vocation. Where do I start?” It’s step one in that process. As a pastor, I have dozens of kids asking me this question each year, so I wrote this book to answer it in one place.

(Source: https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2019/11/04/practical-guide-discernment-hint-just-be-yourself)

by armaghpriest.com on October 7th, 2019

Prayer of the Faithful to Promote the Call to Priesthood

October 2019 (Year C)

6th October: Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
That by the power of the Holy Spirit, every Catholic called to the priesthood and consecrated life will guard the treasure of their unique vocation in Christ and fan it into a flame of their love for Him…
 
13th October: Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
For an increase in gratitude among God’s people for the mercy shown them through the holy vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life in their midst, and that more men and women will faithfully respond to His call…

20th October: Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time
For perseverance in sincere prayer on the part of the faithful, asking the Lord of the Harvest for holy vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and consecrated life…
 
27th October: Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time
That all men and women chosen to fight the good fight of proclaiming faith in Jesus Christ as priests, deacons, religious sisters and brothers, will find encouragement in our prayers and support…
 
1st November: Solemnity of All Saints
That, through the intercession of all the saints, the Lord will grant holy men and women of our community vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life…

by armaghpriest.com on October 7th, 2019

Cardinal Robert Sarah reflected on the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist and the meaning of the priesthood in a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica Saturday marking his 50th ordination anniversary.

“The priest lives joy in its fullness at Holy Mass, which is the raison d'être of his existence, what gives meaning to his life,” Sarah said in his homily at the Altar of the Chair Sept. 29.

“During the daily Mass the priest comes face to face with Jesus Christ and at that precise moment, he is identified, he identified himself with Christ, becoming not only an Alter Christus, another Christ, but he is really Ipse Christus, the same Christ,” he said.

The Prefect for the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments said the inner life of a priest should center around three things: the cross, the Eucharist, and the Virgin Mary.

“According to St. Josemaría Escrivà, the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ is the vital spring of the priest, the pillar on which his priestly existence is built,” he said.

Sarah explained that the cross makes possible “the birth of divine life within us” and that the Virgin Mary watches over one’s spiritual development as a mother, who “educates us to grow in faith.”

“Without the Eucharist we cannot live,” he said. “Jesus reveals to us the secret of this heavenly food, that it is His very flesh that becomes nourishment to enable us to live from His own life, in the unheard-of intimacy of friendship with him.”

Sarah said that the priesthood is going through "a deep crisis” today, and asked for prayers for all priests.

“The priest -- here is the most magnificent work, the most generous gift that God has given to humanity, the most precious and unprecedented treasure that exists on earth; the Curé of Ars, St. John Mary Vianney was deeply convinced of this,” he said.

“In this Eucharist we entrust the Church and all priests to the maternal goodness of the Virgin Mary, our Mother and Mother of the Church,” he prayed.

Born in French Guinea in 1945, Sarah was ordained a priest on July 20, 1969 and made a bishop at the age of 34. The Mass at the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter’s Basilica was celebrated in honor of two anniversaries for the cardinal this year -- 50 years as a priest and 40 years as a bishop.

“The heart of this celebration is Jesus Christ, the High Heavenly Priest: ‘holy, innocent, without blemish, separated from sinners and raised above the heavens,’” Sarah said.

“God amazes with his choices, He is wonderful and surprising in his generosity and in his love for each of us … Listen to how much he repeats to each of us today: ‘Before forming you in the womb, I knew you, before you came out into the light, I consecrated you; I have made you a prophet of the nations,” he said.

“This is what the Lord was for me: I was born in a humble and poor environment like that of Nazareth and in an animist and pagan culture, and He made me a Christian, a priest and a bishop,” the cardinal said. “Through baptism and priestly ordination He transformed me from nothing into his humble servant, into his beloved son.”



(Source of text & image: https://angelusnews.com/faith/cardinal-sarah-reflects-on-the-meaning-of-the-priesthood/)

by armaghpriest.com on October 3rd, 2019

Dear brothers and sisters,

When they brought me this table, I thought it was time to eat, but no, it is to speak!

I thank you for your warm welcome. I would like before all else to greet all those priests and consecrated persons who could not be with us today due to poor health, advanced age or other reasons. Let us say a little prayer for them in silence…

I conclude my visit to Madagascar here with you. As I witness your joy, and think of everything else that I have seen during my brief stay on your island, my heart echoes the words spoken by Jesus in Luke’s Gospel. Filled with joy, he exclaimed: “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to little ones” (Lk 10:21). My joy has been confirmed by your testimonies, for even those things you see as problems are signs of a Church that is alive, a dynamic Church that strives each day to be a sign of the Lord’s presence. A Church that, as Sister Suzanne said, tries each day to be close to people, not to be removed from people, but to walk always with the people of God!

This leads us to remember with gratitude all those who in past years were unafraid to stake their lives on Jesus Christ and his kingdom. Today you share in their legacy. Before you, there were roots here: the roots of evangelization. You are their fruit. And you too will leave something behind for those yet to come. I think of the Vincentians, the Jesuits, the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Cluny, the Brothers of the Christian Schools, the La Salette Missionaries and so many other pioneer bishops, priests and consecrated men and women. I think too of the many lay persons who kept alive the flame of the faith in this land during the difficult days of persecution, when many missionaries and religious had to leave. This reminds us that our baptism is the first great sacrament that marked and consecrated us as God’s children. Everything else is an expression and a manifestation of that first love, which we are constantly called to renew.

The words of the Gospel that I cited above are part of the Lord’s prayer of praise as he welcomed back the seventy-two disciples from their mission. Like yourselves, those disciples accepted the challenge of being a Church that “goes forth”. They came back with their bags full, to share everything that they saw and heard. You too dared to go forth, and you accepted the challenge of bringing the light of the Gospel to the different parts of this island.

I know that many of you live in difficult conditions and lack such essential services as water, electricity, roads and means of communication, or the financial resources needed for your life and pastoral activity. More than a few of you feel the burden of your apostolic labours and their effect on your health. Yet you have chosen to stand beside your people, to be close to your people, to remain in their midst. I thank you for this. I thank you for your witness of closeness to your people, for choosing to stay and not make your vocation a “stepping stone to a better life”. Thank you for this. To remain there in the awareness, as Sister Suzanne said, that, “for all our difficulties and weaknesses, we remain fully committed to the great mission of evangelization”. Consecrated persons, in the broad sense of the term, are women and men who have learned how to keep close to the Lord’s heart and to the heart of their people. This is the key: to remain in the heart of the Lord and in the heart of our people!

Welcoming back his disciples and hearing of their joy, Jesus immediately praises and blesses his heavenly Father. This makes us see something basic about our vocation. We are men and women of praise. Consecrated persons are able to recognize and point out the presence of God wherever they find themselves. Even better, they are able to dwell in God’s presence because they have learned how to savour, enjoy and share that presence.

In praise, we discover the beauty of our identity as part of a people. Praise frees disciples from obsessing about “what ought to be done” that can eat away at us. Praise restores our enthusiasm for mission and for being in the midst of our people. Praise helps us refine the “criteria” by which we take stock of ourselves and others, and all our missionary projects. In this way, it keeps us from losing our evangelical “flavour”.

Often we can yield to the temptation of wasting our time talking about “successes” and “failures”, the “usefulness” of what we are doing or the “influence” we may have in society or elsewhere. These discussions end up taking over and, not infrequently, make us, like defeated generals, dream up vast, meticulously planned apostolic projects. We end up denying our own history – and the history of your people – which is glorious because it is a history of sacrifices, hope, daily struggle, a life consumed in fidelity to work, tiring as it may be (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 96).

In praising, we learn not to become “inebriated”, turning means into ends or the superfluous into the important. We gain the freedom to initiate processes rather than seeking to occupy spaces (cf. ibid., 233), the freedom to foster whatever brings growth, development and fruitfulness to God’s people, instead of priding ourselves on pastoral “gains” that are easy and quick, but short-lived. Much of our life, our joy and our missionary fruitfulness have to do with Jesus’ invitation to praise. As that wise and holy man, Romano Guardini, often said: “The one who worships God in the depths of his heart and, when possible, by his concrete actions, lives in the truth. He might be mistaken about many things; he can be overwhelmed and dismayed by all his cares, but when all is said and done, his life rests on a sure foundation” (R. GUARDINI, Glaubenserkenntnis, Mainz, 3rd ed., 1997, p. 17), in praise, in adoration.

The seventy-two realized that the success of their mission depended on its being carried out “in the name of the Lord Jesus”. That was what amazed them. It had nothing to do with their own virtues, names or titles… There was no need to pass out their own propaganda; it was not their fame or their vision that stirred and saved other people. The joy of the disciples was born of their certainty that they were acting in the name of the Lord, sharing in his plan and participating in his life, which they loved so much that they wanted to share it with others.

It is interesting to see how Jesus sums up his disciples’ work by speaking of victory over the power of Satan, a power that we, by ourselves, could never overcome, if not in the name of Jesus! Each of us can testify to battles fought… including a few defeats. In all those situations that you mentioned when you spoke of your efforts to evangelize, you fight this same battle in the name of Jesus. In his name, you triumph over evil whenever you teach people to praise our heavenly Father, or simply teach the Gospel and the catechism, or visit the sick and bring the consolation of reconciliation. In Jesus’ name, you triumph whenever you give a child something to eat, or save a mother from despair at being alone in the face of everything, or provide work to the father of a family. The battle is won whenever you overcome ignorance by providing an education. You bring God’s presence whenever any of you helps show respect for all creatures, in their proper order and perfection, and prevents their being misused or exploited. It is a sign of God’s victory whenever you plant a tree or help bring drinkable water to a family. What a great sign of victory over evil it is, whenever you work to restore thousands of persons to good health!

Continue to fight these battles, but always in prayer and in praise.

There are also battles that we fight within ourselves. God circumvents the influence of the evil spirit, the spirit that very often inspires in us “an inordinate concern for our personal freedom and relaxation, which leads us to see our work as a mere appendage to our life, as if it were not part of our very identity. At the same time, the spiritual life comes to be identified with a few religious exercises which can offer a certain comfort, but which do not encourage encounter with others, engagement with the world or a passion for evangelization” (Evangelii Gaudium, 78). As a result of this, instead of being men and women of praise, we become “professionals of the sacred”. Let us instead conquer the spirit of evil on its own terrain. Whenever it tells us to put our trust in financial security, spaces of power and human glory, let us respond with the evangelical responsibility and poverty that inspires us to give our lives for the mission (cf. ibid., 76). Please, let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of missionary joy!

Dear brothers and sisters, Jesus praises the Father for having revealed these things to the “little ones”. We are indeed little, for our joy, our happiness, is found in precisely his revelation that those who are simple can “see and hear” what neither the intelligent nor prophets and kings were able to see and hear. It is God’s presence in those who are suffering and afflicted, those who hunger and thirst for justice, those who are merciful (cf. Mt 5:3-12; Lk 6:20-23). Happy are you, happy as a Church of the poor and for the poor, a Church imbued by the fragrance of her Lord, a Church that lives joyfully by preaching the Good News to the marginalized of the earth, to those who are closest to God’s heart.

Please convey to your communities my affection and my closeness, my prayers and my blessing. As I now bless you in the name of the Lord, I ask you to think of your communities and your places of mission, that the Lord may continue to speak of goodness to all, wherever they find themselves. May you continue to be a sign of his living presence in our midst!

Please, don’t forget to pray for me, and to ask others to do the same!

Pope Francis:

Before finishing I would like to perform a duty of justice and of gratitude. This is the last of the nine addresses that were translated by Father Marcel. I am going to make him uncomfortable because I am also going to ask him to translate this words of thanks for Father Marcel [he turns to him] for the work that you did, and to thank you for clear but also free way that you interpreted my words. I thank you very much, and may the Lord bless you.

(Apostolic Trip of His Holiness Francis in Mozambique, Madagascar and Mauritius (4 to 10 September 2019) – Meeting with the Priests, Men and Women Religious, Consecrated Persons and Seminarians in the Collège de Saint Michel, 08.09.2019)

by armaghpriest.com on September 2nd, 2019

1st September: 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
That those discerning vocations “will find favour with God” and renewed dedication to His work…

8th September: 23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
For the faithful response of all those being called by Christ to take up their crosses and follow Him as a priest, deacon, sister or brother…

15th September: 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time
That the Lord, who rejoices over one sinner who repents, will bless us with vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life to call sinners to repentance…

22nd September: 25th Sunday in Ordinary Time
For all those dedicated to following the one true Master, that they will be strengthened in their vocations as priests, deacons and in the consecrated life…

29th September: 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time
That the pursuit of righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness will mark the lives of all those discerning our Heavenly Father’s will, especially those considering a vocation to the priesthood or consecrated life…


by armaghpriest.com on July 31st, 2019

4th August: 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time
That those who desire to be “rich in what matters to God” and are discerning a vocation to the consecrated life will be enriched by the Holy Spirit…

11th August: 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time
That those who are being called to live their vocations as priests, deacons and consecrated men and women will be guided to imitate the Lord’s generosity as they discern that gift…

15th August: The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
That through the intercession of our Heavenly mother, we will be blessed with abundant vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life…

18th August: 20th Sunday in Ordinary Time
For all those who are troubled in the discernment of their vocation, that they will be blessed by the Holy Spirit with encouragement, insight and the grace of perseverance…

25th August: 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time
That all men and women pursuing a vocation to the priesthood or consecrated life will have the discipline and perseverance to follow in the path of Christ…


by armaghpriest.com on July 5th, 2019

7th July: 14th Sunday in Ordinary Time

For an increase in labourers to the Lord of the Harvest in response to our prayers for vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and the consecrated life, and for the holiness of all those now serving the people of our diocese in these vocations…

14th July: 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time
That all those now discerning their vocation will be attentive in prayer and active in their response to Jesus the Eternal Word who calls them…

21st July: 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time
That like Mary of Bethany, all priests, deacons and brothers and sisters will listen to the Lord in prayer, faithful to their choice of vocation…

28th July: 17th Sunday in Ordinary Time
That the Holy Spirit will give inspiration and guidance to all those discerning their vocation in Christ…






Categories
no categories