A Year for Priests 2018-9
On the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart 2018, there began a year of thanksgiving, prayer, and celebration for the priests of the Archdiocese of Birmingham. This is to prepare for a national celebration of priesthood to coincide with the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart in Westminster Cathedral in 2019. We are all invited to share in prayer and reflection on the meaning and importance of the priesthood in the life of the church and to encourage vocations to church.
An insight into the Priesthood
The work of a parish priest is extremely onerous but immensely rewarding. I am sometimes mystified by the vocations crisis as for me the priesthood is the best job in the world. What could be a greater privilege than being a bridge between God and others and gathering God’s family together at the Eucharist? The work is varied and stimulating. You meet all sorts of people, far more than most jobs, of all different backgrounds and characters and are given unique access into many different homes and become part of many different families.
You are helping people at key moments of their lives, birth, marriage and death and doing something useful by providing comfort and inspiration. You play a key role in the local community and are selling the best product in the world: eternal life! It is something our world is desperately searching for: God himself. In this Douai outpost on the monastic frontier we are enjoying the struggle of trying to bring Stratfordians to those loftier heights of learning and virtue of which St Benedict so eloquently speaks.
Fr Alexander Austin
Holy Orders, in the Catholic Church, is the sacrament through which men are ordained as deacons, priests and bishops. It maintains the continuity of the apostles whereby each ordained person is ordained by a successor of an original apostle of Jesus Christ.
Today ordination is reserved for the sacramental act of integrating a man into the order of bishops, presbyters (priests) or deacons. This integration has greater solemnity than a simple election or delegation from the community because it confers a gift of the Holy Spirit (grace) that permits the exercise of the sacred power which can only come from Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18-20).
Who can be ordained? Why aren’t there female priests? At this time, only baptized men can receive this sacrament. The Magisterium (the Bishops in unity with the Pope) has taught that the Church has no right to ordain women because Jesus did not appoint women to the position of apostles. This is considered part of the deposit of faith that has been handed on and that no one can change. Another argument for exclusive male ordination is that since Jesus was male, he is most closely represented by males.
Ordination is seen by the church as a calling by God – as distinct from a right or career – and so candidates for Holy Orders are asked to go through a process of discernment before being accepted for training.
“Give me holy priests, and I will give you a holy people” was the motto of Pope Pius Xl. The leadership role of the priest, following the pattern of Jesus, is indispensable for the transmission of the Faith and the administration of the Sacraments. The renewal of the priesthood is one of the priorities of the Church. Our priests, as custodians of the Mysteries of God, are the very arteries of the Church, through which the lifeblood of grace – the divine life – flows to us. That is why the patron saint of priests, the holy Cure of Ars said: “Without the Sacrament of Holy Orders we would not have the Lord. Who put him there in the Tabernacle? The priest. Who welcomed your soul at the beginning of your life? The priest. Who feeds your soul and gives it strength for its journey? The priest. Who will prepare it to appear before God, bathing it one last time in the blood of Jesus Christ? The priest, always the priest.” Let us ask the Mother of God, the Mother of all priests, that many young men may hear the call of God, and then be able to find in their families and in the Church the fertile soil to nourish their vocation.
Every Christian is called by God and has a vocation to live out their faith in the pursuit of holiness as God intended. As part of that vocation it is also to share the Good News and word of a loving God, but we have a very special obligation to pray for vocations to the priesthood.
The Warwick Deanery Vocations Promotion Group meets every month to promote prayers and a greater awareness of the need for vocations to the priesthood. It is also very active in holding vocations days in primary schools throughout the Deanery – as in St Gregory’s earlier this year.
“Behind and before every vocation to the priesthood there is always the strong and intense prayer of someone: a grandmother, a grandfather, a mother, a father, a community. .. Vocations are born in prayer and from prayer; and only through prayer can they persevere and bear fruit. Let us invoke the intercession of Mary who is the Woman of the ‘yes’. Mary said ‘yes’ throughout her life!” Pope Francis, Regina Coeli, 2nd April 2013
Among the many pastoral concerns of the world’s bishops, encouraging vocations to the priesthood invariably holds first place. Without the sacramental priesthood, the Church could never succeed in her calling: the priestly ministry is essential to the Church’s mission. Jesus founded the Church on the Apostles and as a result there is an inseparable connection between the Church and the priesthood. That is why God never ceases, in every age, to call men willing to consecrate themselves to him and place themselves entirely at the service of Christ’s Church.
For more information please contact the parish office by email firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01789 292439.