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Shepherds of Christ

A Spirituality Newsletter for Priests

1998 - ISSUE FOUR

CONTENTS


Chief Shepherd of the Flock

The Peace of the Lord

I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd is one who lays down his life for his sheep. The hired man, since he is not the shepherd and the sheep do not belong to him, abandons the sheep and runs away as soon as he sees a wolf coming, and then the wolf attacks and scatters the sheep; this is because he is only a hired man and has no concern for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for my sheep. (Jn 10:11-151)

Yes, the Good Shepherd laid down His life for us in His brutal and agonizing death on the cross and rose gloriously from the dead so that we might have abundant life in Him.

One of the most important aspects of the life Jesus came to give us is peace. We have the following account of Jesus' appearance to the disciples after His resurrection:

"In the evening of that same day, the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them. He said to them, 'Peace be with you,' and showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord, and he said to them again, 'Peace be with you'" (Jn 20:19-21).

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, life.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.


The Eucharistic Sacrifice


Prayer


The Priesthood


This Friend Jesus

Friendship is a process of self-liberation. As I give myself to another in friendship, I am aided in the process of escape from my false self. I am aided in the process of growing in true self-identity. The facade which the false self has erected around the authentic self gradually dissolves through the dynamics of true friendship. Why is this? When another receives me in friendship, that other receives me as I am. The friend loves me in my good points, loves me despite my bad points. In the warmth of this receptive love, I am encouraged to be and to become my authentic self. I do not have to project a false self in the hopes that such an image might be more acceptable to the other. I am encouraged to take the risk of being my true self, since I know the other will not reject me. As a matter of fact, my true self is more attractive to the friend and to others precisely because it is my authentic self--the self God destines me to be. Friendship, then, increases my freedom--the freedom to be my real self. The deeper the friendship, the more I am encouraged by the other's love to be and to become, to exercise my talents and to bring them to ever greater maturation for love of God and neighbor.

If my possibilities of growing according to my authentic self are enhanced as I give myself to a human-person friend, much more are the possibilities enhanced as I give myself to Jesus in friendship. The more I am aware of Jesus' tremendous and personal love for me, the more secure I feel in developing my real self. Being accepted by Jesus as an intimate friend should really change my life--as it changed the life of St. Paul and many others. As Jesus has given himself entirely to me, so I should give myself entirely to Him. This deep and intense friendship accomplishes my ongoing transformation, my ongoing conversion. This friend Jesus, through the strength and the tenderness of his love, gradually draws me out of my selfish self, gradually makes me freer to really be, gradually allows my Christic, divinized self to emerge more and more in expressions of love of God and neighbor.

Sharing the pleasant experiences of life with this friend Jesus enhances their joy. Being loved and accepted by others, enjoying the challenge and success of work, experiencing simple joys as well as moments of overwhelming happiness, drinking in the breathless beauties of nature, these and all other such experiences take on deeper meaning to the extent I share them with Jesus. His presence, far from lessening our joy, increases it, and makes us want to thank God all the more for the beauty, the awesomeness, the grandeur, and the tenderness of life.

Sharing with Jesus the difficult aspects of life within the human condition lessens their burden. If Jesus is my friend, should a sense of failure ever snuff out my determination to struggle on? If Jesus is my friend, should fear ever paralyze me? If Jesus is my friend, is there any cross which I can claim is too heavy? If Jesus is my friend, can I ever allow suffering to make me bitter?
This friend Jesus always wants to be so near. He is strong, tender, understanding, gentle, loving. He sympathizes, encourages, challenges, inspires. He leads, but does not force. He admonishes us when we are wrong, but He does not reject us. He is overjoyed at a good deed, and gently but firmly reminds us that there is more to do and to accomplish. This friend Jesus is the perfect friend. He is your friend, and my friend.


The Father's Love for Us

Pope John-Paul II tells us: "The more the Church's mission is centered upon man--the more it is, so to speak, anthropocentric--the more it must be confirmed and actualized theocentrically, that is to say, be directed in Jesus Christ to the Father...Today I wish to say that openness to Christ, who as the Redeemer of the world fully 'reveals man to himself', can only be achieved through an ever more mature reference to the Father and his love...Making the Father present as love and mercy is, in Christ's own consciousness, the fundamental touchstone of his mission as the Messiah..."13


Devotion to the Holy Spirit

Archbishop Luis M. Martinez instructs us: "Consecration to the Holy Spirit must be total: nothing must draw us away from His loving possession. Undoubtedly vacillations and deficiencies are part of our imperfection, but even so, our love must not be extinguished. Rather, it must lift its divine flame toward infinite love in the midst of all human vicissitudes.

True devotion to the Holy spirit, therefore, is not something superficial and intermittent, but something profound and constant, like Christian life itself; it is the love of the soul that corresponds to the love of God, the gift of the creature who tries to be grateful for the divine Gift, the human cooperation that receives the loving and efficacious action of God. As divine love is eternal, its gift without repentance and its action constant, it is our part to have our heart always open to love, ready to receive the unspeakable gift, and to keep all our powers docile to the divine movement."14


A Scriptural Reflection

St. Paul tells us: "Life to me, of course, is Christ, but then death would bring me something more; but then again, if living in this body means doing work which is having good results--I do not know what I should choose. I am caught in the dilemma: I want to be gone and be with Christ, which would be very much the better, but for me to stay alive in this body is a more urgent need for your sake." (Phil l:21-24)

We should all be inspired by these words of Paul to stimulate our own personal love and enthusiasm for Jesus. After all, for us, to live should mean Christ. What else does the word Christian mean? If we reflect on the meaning of the word Christian, we realize that it ideally means a follower of Christ, one totally committed to Christ, one for whom life has no real meaning without Jesus, one who is willing to live and to die for Jesus and His cause. Why is it at times that we do not allow Jesus to influence our lives as He should? Why at times do we tend to relegate Him to the back of our consciousness and go off in various self-centered directions? Why, apparently, do so many Christians become enthusiastic about all kinds of projects, and yet have such faint enthusiasm for that all-important project which is the work of Jesus? As committed Christians, we should take the appropriate means which will prevent us from succumbing to such an attitude.

We have the privilege and the responsibility of allowing Jesus to live through us. Jesus wants to live in us. He wants us to help Him continue His redemptive mission in and through us. Some two thousand years ago Jesus walked the earth teaching, healing the sick, forgiving sins, extending His love and mercy, choosing His apostles, forming His Church. In all this He was achieving what theologians call the objective redemption. We had no part in this. However, we now live in the stage of subjective redemption--the application of the fruits of Jesus' objective redemption to individual subjects or persons. In this phase of redemption, Jesus asks our help. He asks us to lend Him our hands, our speech, our minds, our wills, our hearts.

In this work of ongoing redemption, each of us has a special mission, a special role to fulfill. No one can fulfill another's mission. Each of us, being a unique person, has a unique mission to carry out. John Cardinal Newman reminds us: "...everyone who breathes, high and low, educated and ignorant, young and old, man and woman, has a mission, has a work. We are not sent into this world for nothing; we are not born at random...God sees everyone of us; He creates every soul, He lodges it in the body, one by one, for a purpose. He needs, He deigns to need, every one of us. He has an end for each of us; we are all equal in His sight, and we are placed in our different ranks and stations, not to get what we can out of them for ourselves, but to labor in them for Him. As Christ has His work, we too have ours; as He rejoiced to do His work, we must rejoice in ours also."15

We accomplish our mission in, with, through, and for Jesus. He is with us showing the way, gently teaching us how to live according to the pattern of His own life. He encourages us when the days become bleak. He constantly reminds us of His tender and concerned love for each of us. He inspires us to greater things. He tells us that He wants us, that He needs us, that He thinks so much of us, that He values so highly what each of us has to contribute. This is the Jesus we follow. To live is Christ.


The Christian and the Social Order

Vatican II states: "Coming down to practical and particularly urgent consequences, this Council lays stress on reverence for man; everyone must consider his every neighbor without exception as another self, taking into account first of all his life and the means necessary to living it with dignity, so as not to imitate the rich man who had no concern for the poor man Lazarus.

"In our times a special obligation binds us to make ourselves the neighbor of absolutely every person...whether he be an old man abandoned by all, a foreign laborer unjustly looked down upon, a refugee, a child born of an unlawful union and wrongfully suffering for a sin he did not commit, or a hungry person...

"Furthermore, whatever is opposed to life itself, such as any type of murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia, or willful self-destruction; whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, torments inflicted on body or mind, attempts to coerce the will itself; whatever insults human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions...as well as disgraceful working conditions, where men are treated as mere tools for profit, rather than as free and responsible persons; all these things and others of their like are infamies indeed. They poison human society, but they do more harm to those who practice them than those who suffer from the injury. Moreover, they are a supreme dishonor to the Creator."16


Prayer for Priests

Many of the laity pray for us priests, and consistently so. Is it not also fitting that we priests pray for all our brothers in the priesthood, and consistently so? There follows a prayer that can aid us in this endeavor.

"Lord Jesus, Chief Shepherd of the Flock, we pray that in the great love and mercy of Your Heart that You attend to all the needs of your priest-shepherds throughout the world. We ask that you draw back to your Heart all those priests who have seriously strayed from your path, that you rekindle the desire for holiness in the hearts of those priests who have become lukewarm, and that you continue to give your fervent priests the desire for the highest holiness. United with Your Heart and Mary's Heart, we ask that you take this petition to your heavenly Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit. Amen".

The above prayer is taken from the prayer manual of Shepherds of Christ Associates, a facet of Shepherds of Christ Ministries. The associates are members of prayer groups which meet regularly to pray for all the needs of the entire human family, but most especially for priests. If you would like a copy, or copies, of this prayer manual, and, further, if you would like information on how to begin a Shepherds of Christ prayer chapter, contact us at:

Shepherds of Christ, P.O. Box 193, Morrow, Ohio 45152-0193, U.S.A.
Phone (toll free): 1-800-211-3041
Phone 1-513-932-4451
Fax: 1-513-932-6791


St. Louis de Montfort and Consecration to Jesus and Mary

J. Patrick Gaffney, S.M.M., writes of St. Louis de Montfort: "Montfort's intense devotion to Mary is clearly Christocentric. So strongly does the saint insist upon the point that he forcefully teaches that if devotion to Mary alienated us from Jesus it would have to be rejected as a diabolical temptation...With Mary we enter into a more intense and more immediate union with the Incarnate Wisdom. To wrench Mary from salvation history and therefore from Christian life is, for Montfort, to reject the plan of salvation as decreed by the Father.

"The total, lived-out acceptance of the reality of our faith is what Montfort calls 'Consecration to the Eternal and Incarnate Wisdom.' This loving, free surrender to God's plan renews us in the Spirit so that we may 'carry out great things for God and for the salvation of souls' (cf. The True Devotion, 214)...and all must be done in the 'milieu' of Mary's maternal influence so that we may, like her, be temples of the Holy Spirit and thereby renew the face of the earth."17

And here are words from St. Louis himself: "The more one is consecrated to Mary, the more one is consecrated to Jesus."18


Act of Consecration

Lord, Jesus, Chief Shepherd of the Flock, I consecrate my priestly life to Your Heart, pierced on Calvary for love of us. From Your pierced Heart the Church was born, the Church You have called me as a priest, to serve in a most special way. You reveal Your Heart as symbol of Your love in all its aspects, including Your most special love for me, whom you have chosen as your priest-companion. Help me always to pour out my life in love of God and neighbor. Heart of Jesus, I place my trust in you.

Dear Blessed Virgin Mary, I consecrate myself to your maternal and Immaculate Heart, this Heart which is symbol of your life of love. You are the Mother of my Savior. You are also my Mother. You love me with a most special love as this unique priest-son. In a return of love I give myself entirely to your motherly love and protection. You followed Jesus perfectly. You are His first and perfect disciple. Teach me to imitate you in the putting on of Christ. Be my motherly intercessor so that, through your Immaculate Heart, I may be guided to an ever closer union with the pierced Heart of Jesus, Chief Shepherd of the Flock, Who leads me to the Father in the Holy Spirit.


Letters

Here are a few of the many letters we have been receiving, a number of which are increasingly coming from countries outside the U.S.A. This is indicative of the expanding international circulation of the Newsletter.


Dear Father,

This date two copies of your Catholic newsletter reached my desk. I put other mail aside and read your publication.

It sold itself. Therefore I would ask for 60 copies that can be spread among our priests, brothers, sisters, deacons and catechists.

I am sure they will appreciate what you send.

Blessings and best wishes.
Your servant in Christ,
Cardinal Pio Taofinu'u
Archbishop of Samoa-Apia


Dear Fr. Edward:

Thank you for the Shepherds of Christ Newsletter. You are putting in the hands of our priests timely materials for spiritual reading and for allocutions and homilies. I myself will find this helpful for my apostolate of giving recollections and retreats to seminarians and priests.

I will be glad to have 60 copies of each issue of the Newsletter starting with the forthcoming newsletter.

Permit me to extend to you and your companions in the apostolate my appreciation and gratitude for extending your help to your fellow priests in the ministry.

God bless you.
Sincerely yours,
Angel N. Lagdameo
Bishop of Dumaguete, Philippines


Dear Fr. Carter,

I have just finished reading issue Two, 1998 of Shepherds of Christ.

I really enjoyed it. It had real spiritual depth. I especially enjoyed the piece on Spiritual Freedom and John of the Cross. Really all the pieces were worthwhile. I liked the mix of traditional pieces (the two consecration prayers and Anima Christi) and your quoting of contemporary writers like Henri Nouwen and Robert Schwartz.

It was an act of the Holy Spirit--divine intervention--that I even read the newsletter. Like all priests, I receive so much unsolicited mail that I automatically toss out a lot of it without looking at it. Somehow, I looked at your newsletter on May 21, my birthday. Your newsletter was my best birthday gift. Keep up the good work.

In Christ,
Fr. Eamon Tobin, Cocoa Beach, Florida


Dear Fr. Carter,

Thank you for your newsletter of priestly spirituality, "Shepherds of Christ". It is both informative and inspirational.

In the peace of Christ,
Fr. Austin Green, O.P. University of Dallas


NOTES:

  1. Scriptural quotations are taken from The Jerusalem Bible, Doubleday & Co.
  2. "From the Various Writings of the History of the Order of Preachers," as in The Liturgy of the Hours, Catholic Book Publishing Co., Vol lV, p. 1302.
  3. Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, The Gift of Peace, Loyola University Press, pp. 151-153.
  4. The Documents of Vatican II, "Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy", American Press Edition, No. 48.
  5. John Paul II, Sources of Renewal: The Implementation of Vatican II, translated by P.S. Falla, Harper & Row, p. 225.
  6. M. Raymond, O.C.S.O., This Is Love, Bruce, p. 106.
  7. Maurice de la Taille, S.J., The Mystery of Faith: Book 2, "The Sacrifice of the Church", translated by Joseph Carroll and P.J. Dalton, Sheed & Ward, p. 240.
  8. Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, The Gift of Peace, Loyola Press, University Press, pp. 96-100.
  9. Thomas Merton, The New Man, Farrar, Straus and Cudaby, p. 231.
  10. The Documents of Vatican II, op. cit., "Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests", No. 12.
  11. Ibid, "The Decree on Priestly Formation," No. 8.
  12. Directory on the Ministry and the Life of Priests as in Inside the Vatican, Special Supplement, Nov., 1994, No. 13.
  13. Pope John Paul II, Dives in Misericordia as in The Encyclicals of John Paul II, edited with introductions by J. Michael Miller, C.S.R., Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division, Nos 1.4 and 3.4.
  14. Archbishop Luis M. Martinez, The Sanctifier, Pauline Books and Media, p. 48.
  15. John Cardinal Newman, Discourses Addressed to Mixed Congregations, Longmans, Green, and Co., p. 111-112.
  16. The Documents of Vatican II, op. cit., "The Church in the Modern World", No. 27.
  17. God Alone, The Collected Works of St. Luis de Montfort, p. xv.
  18. St. Luis de Montfort, True Devotion as in God Alone, op. cit., p. 327.Scriptural quotations are taken from The Jerusalem Bible, Doubleday & Co.

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1998, ISSUE FOUR
Shepherds of Christ

Shepherds of Christ Ministries
P.O. Box 193
Morrow, Ohio 45152-0193
U.S.A.

Shepherds of Christ, a spirituality newsletter for priests, is published bi-monthly by Shepherds of Christ Ministries, P.O. Box 193, Morrow, Ohio 45152-0193. While distribution is free of charge to all priests in the U.S., and growing internationally, donations are still very much appreciated. Inquiries and comments are welcome, as are address changes and addresses of the newly ordained. Permission to reproduce intact is granted for non-commercial use. Editor Father Edward Carter S.J. is Professor of Theology at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. John Weickert is President. Good Shepherd illustration is by Brother Jerome Pryor, S.J. Layout and design are by Cathy Ring. Also dedicated to the spiritual advancement of priests is a worldwide network of lay/religious prayer chapters, Shepherds of Christ Associates, headquartered at 2919 Shawhan Road, Morrow, Ohio 45152, telephone toll free 1-888-211-3041, fax 513-932-6791.


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