Thursday, June 10, 2010

Diocesan Feast - Closing of the Year of the Priesthood

This evening, representatives of parishes and communities will come together to celebrate our annual Diocesan Feast.

It is held on the Thursday nearest June 8, the date the Diocese of Bytown (established on June 25, 1847 and renamed the Diocese of Ottawa on June 14, 1860), became the Archdiocese of Ottawa on June 8, 1886.

As the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart marks the close of the Year for Priests (with 9000 priests and bishops joining the Holy Father in Rome for the occasion), we will anticipate this feast at our celebration this evening.

All are welcome.

Today is also the 38th anniversary of my ordination as a priest, along with Father Frank Obrigewitsch and two other Jesuits who are deceased, Fathers Ronald Barnes and Brian Massie.

To mark this occasion, I am reproducing the address the late Thomas B. Fulton (then auxiliary bishop of Toronto, later the Bishop of St. Catharines) addressed to us from the Pontifical, followed by my homily at Saturday's ordination of two Jesuit priests along with photos taken at the ceremony.

These men, your relatives and friends, are now to be raised to the order of priests. Consider carefully the ministry to which they are promoted.

It is true that God has made his entire people a royal priesthood in Christ. But our High Priest, Jesus Christ, also chose some of his followers to carry out publicly in the Church the priestly ministry in his name on behalf of mankind.

He was sent by the Father, and he in turn sent the apostles into the world; through them and their successor, the bishops, he continues his work as Teacher, Priest, and Shepherd.

Priests are co-workers of the order of bishops. They are joined to the bishops in the priestly office and are called to serve God's people.

Our brothers have seriously considered this step and are now to be ordained to the priesthood in the presbyteral order. They are is to serve Christ the Teacher, Priest, and Shepherd in their ministry which is to make his own body, the Church, grow into the people of God, a holy temple.

They are called to share in the priesthood of the bishops and to be moulded into the likeness of Christ, the supreme and eternal Priest. By consecration they will be made true priests of the New Testament, to preach the Gospel, sustain God's people, and celebrate the liturgy, above all, the Lord's sacrifice.

My sons, you are now to be advanced to the order of the presbyterate. You must apply your energies to the duty of teaching in the name of Christ, the chief Teacher. Share with all mankind the word of God you have received with joy. Meditate on the law of God, believe what you read, teach what you believe, and put into practice what you teach.

Let the doctrine you teach be true nourishment for the people of God. Let the example of your life attract the follower of Christ, so that by word and action you may build up the house which is God's Church.

In the same way you must carry out your mission of sanctifying in the power of Christ. Your ministry will perfect the spiritual sacrifice of the faithful by uniting it to Christ's sacrifice, the sacrifice which is offered sacramentally through your hands. Know what you are doing and imitate the mystery you celebrate.

In the memorial of the Lord's death and resurrection, make every effort to die to sin and to walk in the new life of Christ.

When you baptize, you will bring men and women into the people of God. In the sacrament of penance, you will forgive sins in the name of Christ and the Church. With holy oil you will relieve and console the sick. You will celebrate the liturgy, and offer thanks and praise to God throughout the day, praying not only for the people of God but for the whole world.

Remember that you are chosen from among God's people and appointed to act for them in relation to God. Do your part in the work Christ the Priest with genuine joy and love, and attend to the concerns of Christ before your own.

Finally, conscious of sharing in the work of Christ, the Head and Shepherd of the Church, and united with the bishop and subject to him, seek to bring the faithful together into a unified family and to lead them effectively, through Christ and in the Holy Spirit, to God the Father.

Always remember the example of the good Shepherd who came not to be served but to serve, and to seek out and rescue those who were lost.

* * * * * *


“THE PRIESTHOOD IS THE LOVE OF THE HEART OF JESUS” [Texts: Jeremiah 1: 4-8, 17-19 (Ps 145, "I will praise your name, my King, my God"); Rom 12: 9-21; John 13: 1-17]

We are in the final days of the Year of the Priest, so I wish to begin by recalling the maxim of St. Jean-Marie Vianney, who said that “The Priesthood is the Love of the Heart of Jesus”.

The Year of the Priest began for me with the joy of presiding at the ordination of two Trappist priests last July in an abbey not far from Ars, France. During my stay, the monks arranged for me to go to the village of St. John Marie Vianney on a day-long outing.

On arrival on pilgrimage in Ars, which is still a small French village not far from bustling Lyon, one enters the house of the holy Curé. One sees how simply he lived, a thread-bare cassock that he had repaired many times contrasting with the beautiful vestments he bought for Mass. For himself the bare necessities; for the Lord's house and work the best he could afford.

This did not mean neglect of the poor, for love of God and love of neighbour go hand in hand. He sold his ermine-trimmed canon's cape the day after it arrived and did the same with the medal of France's Legion of Honour in order to give all he could for the needs of the poor.

With simplicity he embodied in his person and ministry the beautiful second reading from the Epistle to the Romans, which parallels the inaugural sermon of Jesus, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep; … associate with the lowly; … if your enemy is hungry, feed them, if thirsty, give them something to drink”.

Vianney, surprisingly for someone who had difficulty with his studies, had an impressive library. At first he mainly borrowed ideas from scholars and writers, memorizing them and handing them on in his sermons. But later, when the press of confessional duties make it impossible for him to have much time to prepare, he spoke from the heart.

He thereby revealed a gentler, more compassionate side than the severe notions he had imbibed. The ministry, particularly the patient spiritual doctoring of souls, drew from his heart the wellsprings of the Saviour’s compassion. This is an important notion, that in our ministry we are moved by the Holy Spirit to take on the sentiments of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the dispositions of the one Master Ignatius called “God our Lord,” the one who, in today’s gospel passage, scandalized his apostle-friends by washing their feet.

In this year of getting close to the Curé of Ars, I have found a depth in his character and the narrative of his life that endears this priest to all others: religious priests—Benedictines, Dominicans, Franciscans, and yes, even us Jesuits—along with the secular clergy. We can learn from him, as he learned from his priestly mentors.

Jesuits rejoice that, during his vocational discernment, young Jean Marie made a pilgrimage to the shrine of our brother St. John Francis Regis, where he prayed for the grace to learn enough Latin to be ordained.

At the sanctuary at Lalouvesc, Vianney learned that the Apostle of the Ardèche died after contracting a severe fever while hearing confessions in a drafty church. Devoting long hours in the confessional, Regis died an outstanding minister of the sacrament of reconciliation, as would Vianney.

In examining Vianney’s pastoral care of his parish, we note that the saint of Ars adapted the Jesuit missionary’s focus on catechizing the people, even adopting his methods.

Today’s church stands in need of a new realization of the double focus found in the pastoral labours of the Jesuit missioner John Francis Regis and the diocesan pastor Jean-Marie Vianney. We must help the people of 21st century Canada recover an appreciation for the Sacrament of Reconciliation through catechesis that stresses encounter with our Risen Lord Jesus in word and sacrament.

For the ministry of the Sacrament of Reconciliation remains too-little appreciated in our time. Yet it is one of the great gifts Christ has left to his church: rightly is it known not only as confession and reconciliation, but as the sacrament of peace, healing, restoration and renewal.

A new catechesis is also needed, of the sort that follows closely upon the encounter with the Risen Lord Jesus that takes place in making Ignatian Spiritual Exercises or by engaging in similar kinds of spiritual experiences.

We know that each priest’s vocation partially echoes the spiritual realities narrated in today’s first reading from Jeremiah. Indeed, God continues to call in mysterious and ineffable ways; and young people are encouraged by family members and the church community, to answer that call.

We rejoice that our brothers John and Teofilo heard the Lord assert that they were chosen before their conception and reassure that they have no cause to fear. We are glad today that they dared to answer God with their assent, “Yes, Lord I am willing to go; send me”.

May Our Blessed Mother Mary, Queen of the Society of Jesus, holy Father Ignatius, Francis Xavier, the Canadian Martyrs and other patron saints intercede for you, dear brothers, obtaining the grace of joy in your vocation so that you may radiate the light of Christ to the many in our world who yearn to receive it.

Photo credit: Marc de Assis, S.J. & Trevor Scott, S.J.

1 comment:

  1. Congratulation your Grace of this anniversary of your priestly ordination! May God continue to give you the heart of a Shepherd.