Wednesday, December 29, 2010

What's the best part of being a priest?

I was at lunch with two young laymen today and one of them asked me this question. Of course my initial reaction was to say that the offering of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the highlight of my day. And so it is. But from the point of view of personal satisfaction, i suppose you'd call it, I had to say that hearing confessions is both the most challenging and rewarding part of my ministry.

I have had the privilege of really encountering Jesus christ through the ministry of a priest in the confessional and from that liberating experience my passion for the priesthood arose. I have often said that my call to the priesthood was, in a sense, born in the confessional. I so wanted others to experience the liberty and joy I had been granted in this great sacrament.

Of course it is only one of many things that make the priesthood so fulfilling for me - though of course there are days when things aren't always easy.

Still, Cross and all, I love being a priest!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pope Benedict's Letter to Seminarians

Our great Holy Father has issued a letter to all Seminarians. Hopefully they will all read it - and hopefully all those of you who are considering the path to priesthood will also get something from what he has written. It is a short but wonderful gem of a letter. Thank you Holy Father - may the Lord keep you safe and healthy for many years to come!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Is God calling me to the Priesthood?


well hopefully!

The very fact that you might be asking yourself that question means that it is a distinct possibility.
So what's your next move? (in no particular order)
  1. Talk to a priest you know and trust about it. (His perspective might just help you in the discernment process.)
  2. Pray the Rosary every day. (No one understands discerning God's call better than our Blessed Mother.)
  3. Try to attend Mass daily if at all possible. (The priesthood is primarily about the Eucharist and so it is at the Mass that your call will be clarified.)
  4. Try to spend some time each week in Eucharistic Adoration (for the same reason as point 3)
  5. Do not be afraid to step out in faith - if you wait until you are absolutely certain that you are called, then you never will make it as far as seminary.
  6. Do not expect a visit from Our Lady or the Lord telling you clearly and unambiguously that you are meant to be a priest.
  7. Do not fall into the trap of thinking you're not holy enough (it's the priesthood of Jesus Christ - who could be holy enough for that!!)
  8. Just do it!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Heart of St. John Marie Vianney

I'm just back from a wonderful one day pilgrimage to Knock Shrine where the relic of the Cure of Ars (his heart) was present for the day for public veneration.

Today was day 3 of a four day pilgrimage of this relic to Ireland. The relic arrived at 12 noon and prayers and veneration went on until 2.30pm. Then at 3pm in the Basilica Mass began. The Celebrant of the Mass was Bishop Philip Boyce of the Diocese of Raphoe (a Carmelite) and he was assisted by the Bishop of Ars, several other Irish Bishops and by (I'd estimate) 120 priests.

It was such a joy to be with my brother priests for this great occasion as we venerated our patron saint. Many of the lay faithful and religious turned up also - of all different ages. Not a bad turn out for a Tuesday!

Bishop Boyce gave a fine homily and the whole experience left me re-enthused (is that a word?) and one line of the homily that hit me like a freight train was the question the good bishop asked and answered: If a bishop were to ask the Holy Cure what he must do to ensure that renewal takes place in his diocese - the Holy Cure would say: Ensure all you priests become saints!! I may be misquoting him somewhat - but that's the jist of it.

I love Knock at the best of times - but this visit of the relics of St. John Marie Vianney were extra special and couldn't come at a better time for the Church and the priests in Ireland. I am sure that the Holy Cure is obtaining countless graces for his brother priests in Ireland in these days and - please God - well into the future.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

My Ideal - Jesus, Son of Mary

I'm just back from a few days pilgrimage (and rest) at Knock Shrine. Went browsing in the bookshop there and came across a little book (little books are best for me - more than 100 pages and it takes me an inordinate amount of time to finish a book) called My Ideal - Jesus Son of Mary. I couldn't put it down.

The book seeks (and succeeds IMHO) to instill in the reader a desire to imitate Jesus in his love for the Blessed Virgin - his Mother and ours.

It is not expensive, is published by Tan Books and can be found HERE.

Answer the Call Young Man

This VIDEO is a great call to young men. The great Fr. Corapi has words of encouragement for any young man who feels even the slightest stirrings of a call to priesthood in his heart. Thanks to Fr. Steve over at Da Mihi Animas for this. He always seems to be able to find the best Catholic videos.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Apostolic Visitation of Irish Seminaries

While the recent Pastoral Letter of the Holy Father addressed the litany of Clerical Child Abuse in Ireland, he also mentions that part of the program for renewal will be, among other things, an Apostolic Visitation of the Seminaries. Ireland has only three diocesan seminaries left: St. Patrick's College, Maynooth, St. Malachy's in Belfast (which offers formation only during the first few years of priestly formation - during philosophical studies) and the Irish College in Rome (which will presumably - and hopefully - fall under the remit of the Apostolic Visitor).

Having spent time in two of these three institutions I am delighted to hear that this visitation is taking place. Since my time in formation I have been convinced that the renewal of the Church in Ireland must begin with a renewal of our houses of formation, which in my experience were (are?) woefully inadequate. Let's just say they didn't inspire a strong sense of priestly identity and one didn't always feel that being truly Catholic in one's outlook was all that important or necessary even.

It is time that the Church in Ireland moved beyond 70's style formation programs which have proven themselves to be disastrous at so many levels. It is time that seminary training involved the encouragement of young men to become holy men of God, zealous for the Lord's flock and faithful to the teaching and direction of Holy Mother Church. I can honestly say that not one (with the exception of one spiritual director I had) ever even hinted that the priesthood had anything to do with the salvation of souls.

I know from experience, and many who shared my time in the seminary will also know, that many times we were asked to compromise here, there and everywhere on what we knew was the right thing to do. Not on any grand scale perhaps - but my philosophy has always been fidelity in small things - so the Lord can entrust me with bigger things.

Perhaps one fruit of the Visitation will be that the Seminarians in Maynooth will once again return to the traditional posture for the Consecration of the Mass - i.e. that they will get on their knees and not remain standing. It might not be a massive issue in alot of peoples minds, but I think it is symptomatic of something greater. As Pope Benedict wrote (as Cardinal Ratzinger):

It may well be that kneeling is alien to modern culture – insofar as it is a culture, for this culture has turned away from the faith and no longer knows the One before whom kneeling is the right, indeed the intrinsically necessary gesture. The man who learns to believe learns also to kneel, and a faith or a liturgy no longer familiar with kneeling would be sick at the core.” (Spirit of the Liturgy)

End of rant!!!