| Shepherds of Christ
March 23, 2008 - Easter Sunday
March 24th Holy Spirit Novena
Scripture selection is Day 4 Period I.
The Novena Rosary Mysteries
for March 24th are Glorious.
April 16, 1995
This rosary was delivered on Easter Sunday in the Sorrowful Mother Chapel. Jesus came alive in the large Sacred Heart picture. He came out of the picture. Marty saw clusters of angels around the Sorrowful Mother statue. Mary and Jesus moved their eyes.
Jesus: It is in your suffering that you will have immense union with Me.
Jesus: As I died and rose on the third day, you, in your suffering, will rise to new life in Me.
Jesus: You have come to Me and I am here waiting for you to share this time alone with you. Put your minds at rest and unite ever so closely to My Most Sacred Heart.
R. Death has no power over Jesus! On the third day He rose victorious from the tomb, His body glistening in white. He truly rose to bring us new life. We are partakers in His divine life. The gift that we receive is far beyond our comprehension.
Jesus: You are as the Easter lily. You come from a narrow place and you grow more and more in this life with Me. You will bud and blossom forth and My life will radiate to this world as you become absorbed and saturated with the divine life that I impart to you.
Jesus: My power is endless for I am truly here and present in this room with you. Feel the vibrancy of My presence with you. I am Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, the resurrected Lord. I live and am present with you this very day.
Jesus: The world has closed off their hearts. They have come, their hearts are hardened, their faces are hard. I am life! You must go out to this world and give the message of My immense love. Tell this world that I am alive and I have risen, that I am in your midst this day, that I live in such an abundant fashion in the hearts of men who are in the state of grace. You, My children, are so blind! I am so present to you! God lives and is in your midst and you do not see. You run down useless roads and look for such foolish things. Oh, how I love you, My beloved. I call you to a state of urgency to spread My message to this world.
Jesus: As you are in your hearts, so shall you be in this world. I am Jesus, the risen Lord. I live on in the hearts of men this day. What you do here will affect the lives of so many souls. I beg you to preach the Gospel, to pray for fearlessness to carry this message to the hearts of all men.
Jesus: I am totally with you in this room. You do not realize the immense gifts that I give to you.
Jesus: In Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, I am present! The risen Lord is with you, My beloved souls, this very day!
Song between decades: Come, Holy Spirit, fill our hearts. Enkindle in us the fire of Your love. Come Holy Spirit, fill our hearts. Enkindle in us the fire of Your love.
Jesus: Before I ascended into heaven, I gave to the apostles the power to baptize and forgive sins. I give to My beloved priests this day this power through the Church. I give to each priest the power to change bread and wine into My most precious Body and Blood. How I love My Church and love My beloved priests-sons, for they are truly called. I live in this world today through My anointed ones.
R. See Jesus as He raises His arms and ascends into heaven and a cloud takes Him from our sight. We live on faith. We see the consecrated Host but we do not comprehend the great gift we have that He truly remains with us this day in the consecrated Host. God gives Himself to us! We become one in Him when we receive Him in the Eucharist. He gives us His Body.
Jesus: Do you see these mysteries, how glorious they truly are that I died and rose on the third day and then ascended into heaven?
Jesus: I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God, come to this earth in such great love to save souls, to lead souls to heaven to be with Me forever and ever. How many souls will be lost because of their willfulness and their ways? Pray, My children, for the souls that are in darkness. They hold on to their foolish ways. They turn their backs and go their own way.
R. He went to heaven to prepare a place for us. Heaven is our true home!
R. He ascended into heaven and the gates of heaven were opened!
Jesus: I send you as missionaries into this world to spread the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus: You say: "For You, Lord, anything! For You, Lord, I will do anything!" And I call you to speak out in front of people and you say, "I can't do that, Lord!" I call you to pray to the Spirit for the courage to preach the Gospel for there are many who are suffering and in pain. Hear their words: "You helped me get to heaven"!
R. See the souls as they ascend into Heaven behind Jesus. See the souls as they are released from purgatory because of our prayers. See the great mercy of God that He loves souls. God the Father loves us so much that He sent His Son into this world so that we might be in heaven some day.
Jesus: See the souls of those living this day, and see them, as they die, being condemned to eternal damnation for their willfulness. For sin is sin and I came to give you life!
Song between decades: Come, Holy Spirit, fill our hearts…
The Descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles
R. Jesus promised before He left the earth that He would send the Holy Spirit to baptize the apostles. Please, dear Holy Spirit, descend upon us so that we have the courage to do all that You are asking us to do. We are fearful and weak and we need Your grace. We need You to live in us, to operate in us, to help us be more and more like Jesus.
R. Who is our model? Whom do we model ourselves after?
R. Mary was joined in the Upper Room with the apostles and a gigantic wind came and there appeared over their heads parted tongues of fire.
R. They were filled with the Holy Spirit and transformed from fear to fearlessness. They went out to preach the Gospel and all understood!
R. Holy Spirit, descend upon us! Outpour all of your gifts and please give to us the courage to be able to carry out the mission that the Father has intended for us.
R. Where we are, as humans, weak and afraid, saturate us with the fire of God's love so that as we operate, we operate enlightened by You. We receive Your wisdom, Your understanding and Your knowledge to know exactly what the Father is calling us to do.
R. Mary, our Mother, help us to unite ever closer to the Holy Spirit that He can work and be active in our being, that we might feel this saturation and penetration of the presence of the Almighty God within our souls.
R. Holy Spirit, impart to us Your life so that we may be enlightened to do all that God is asking us to do. Fill us with such a brilliant light that we know the light of the Almighty God.
Jesus: I am the Way, I am the Truth, I am the Life! He who abides in Me will have the light of life!
R. May we be transformed more and more into the image of Jesus in the Heart of the Virgin Mary and led to the bosom of our Father.
Song between decades: Come, Holy Spirit, fill our hearts…
The Assumption of Mary Into Heaven
Jesus: Model yourselves after Mary, My Mother. She was taken body and soul into heaven. You, too, some day will be taken into My kingdom.
Jesus: You must come to our Hearts. Pray from the heart, My beloved ones. As Mary was so united to My Heart, pray to Mary to unite yourselves closer and closer to My Heart.
Jesus: The more you live this rosary in your daily lives, the more you will pray from your heart. It is in understanding Our lives that you will be joined closer to Us.
Jesus: Our Hearts are a great symbol of Our love for you.
Jesus: How is your heart? Is your heart free of all debris to unite with My immense love? Purify your hearts and come ever closer to Me for a heart that is full of sin cannot unite with My Heart. My Heart is pure and filled with love. To unite closely with Me, your hearts must be forever pure.
Jesus: How I want to unite with each one of you in deepest love, to unite more deeply with you. The love that I have is immeasurable and the longings of your hearts are the longings to unite ever closer to My Heart. You will be satisfied in heaven, My beloved ones, for your hearts will be filled with My love.
R. Mary went to heaven and united closely with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit in a most intense union.
Jesus: Your hearts crave this love that only I can give. Search you this barren desert and you will never satisfy the cravings in your hearts.
R. Mary mothers us as she mothered Jesus. Mary is the Mother of the Church. We pray to Mary to lead us to an ever deeper union with God.
R. We pray to Mary to lead this Church into deeper union with Her Son, to help the priests and the religious who are our ministers in this Church, to lead the souls to deep and longing love with Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Song between decades: Come, Holy Spirit, fill our hearts…
Mary Is Crowned Queen of Heaven and Earth
R. Mary reigns with her Son in the courts of heaven! The Sacred Heart of Jesus will reign on this earth! The Immaculate Heart of Mary will triumph! There will be an era of peace, but many will suffer the loss of their souls for their own willfulness.
Jesus: You are a big part of the Father's plan to help souls to know of the love of God. I beg you to pray fervently from the heart and to lead others to the love of My Heart.
R. How the Heart of Mary knows the Heart of Jesus. How she stands by our side and mothers with the most maternal love. How do we turn to Mary? Do we realize that she is here at every second waiting to take us to the Heart of her Son? She reigns in heaven with her Son Jesus. He loves His Mother so much. Ought we not put our faith and trust and love in His Mother so that she might lead us closer to His Sacred Heart?
R. We are the children of God. God is our Father. Let us realize how we must live in connection with the Father, that our every action is to please Him and to do His Will, that Mary is our Mother and by our side with love to lead us to greatest union with God.
Jesus: Do you want peace, joy and happiness, or do you want your own wills? Only in submitting to the Will of My Father will you have peace, joy and happiness.
R. Mary is there to lead us to the Heart of her Son.
R. The Heart of Jesus is waiting to be united with us in such deep love. Help us, Jesus, as little children being held by our loving mother, to realize the immense love that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit outpour to us. Help us to realize how Mary is our Mother who guards us and protects us under her mantle, how she watches over us and leads us ever closer to the Heart of her Son.
Jesus: The glory is in the resurrection! The glory is in the new life! I lead you into glory but you must submit your wills to the Will of the Father.
Jesus: This intense union that I want with each one of you far surpasses anything you could find on this earth. Come to Me and sit with Me in front of My tabernacle. Be joined in oneness as I give you My very Body and Blood as your food to eat. I nourish you with My own Flesh and Blood. I become one with you and you become one with Me. As we are united, you become united to the Father, for I am one with the Father and He is one with Me. My beloved ones, the great gifts that I give to you and you are so blind!
Jesus: Consecrate your lives to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary and pray fervently for your priests, for I live this day in the Church. Pray for the priests and the Church. I love you, My beloved ones, and I love My Church.
Jesus: Feed the hungry! My love is enough! People do not realize the immensity of My love. They scratch only the surface and I have such deep love to give. If you focus always on My love, you will be fed. You will know struggles and trials, but in all of these struggles, you will be brought to deeper life with Me. As you experience thorns, I give to you a bed of roses. I am Jesus, My beloved ones, and I have spoken directly to you of those things that I hold in My Heart and wish to share with you. Open up your hearts and your souls and ponder the words that I have spoken here. I truly long to be closely united to you, My precious chosen ones. Pray, pray, pray! Men have turned their backs. They have walked away and in their willfulness, they have forgotten God. I come to bring you new life that you might have it to the full.
Song: I am the Bread of Life. He who comes to Me shall not hunger and who believes in Me shall not thirst. No one can come to Me unless the Father beckons. And I will raise you up. And I will raise you up. And I will raise you up on the last day.
Jesus: Pray for My beloved priests and for the Church, My dear ones. Pray for the courage to go out into this world and be a witness of the love of God that you have within your hearts. It is fear that stops you from spreading this message. You, too, will be joined with Me forever and ever in heaven. I ask you to go out into the world and tell all you meet of My great love for them.
Locution Received After
Recitation Of The Seven Sorrows
Jesus: I stand at the door of the hearts of mankind and knock. Many close their hearts and walk away. My beloved ones, pray for the souls of your brothers that they will open their hearts and let Me enter. Your prayers are so important for the salvation of many souls. Pray, My beloved ones! Pray as you have never prayed before. Unite ever more closely to My Most Sacred Heart. Pray always in union with Me and My Mother, the angels and saints, and the souls in purgatory. Pray to the Father, in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, in the Spirit. Your prayers are so valuable to many souls. Do not underestimate the power of prayer. I call out to you this day to go as soldiers into this world.
- During Easter Sunday (April 16, 1995) Rosary
Our Lady of the Holy Spirit Center, Norwood, Ohio
end of April 16, 1995 rosary
Shepherds of Christ
A Spiritual Newsletter for Priests
Chief Shepherd Of The Flock
Jesus in His Paschal Mystery
“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).
He hung upon a cross on a hill called Calvary. Death was near. How much Jesus had already suffered! He had been brutally scourged. Much of His sacred body was a bloody, open wound. He had been derisively crowned with thorns. In a terribly weakened condition, He carried the heavy cross to the hill of Golgotha. There He was stripped of His garments and mercilessly nailed to the cross. After all this brutal and agonizing suffering, Jesus finally died.
Truly the Good Shepherd had laid down His life for His sheep. That magnificent Heart, overflowing with love for His Father and all of us, had beat its last.
On the third day, Jesus rose: “Destroy this sanctuary, and in three days I will raise it up! The Jews replied, ‘It has taken forty-six years to build this sanctuary: are you going to raise it up in three days?’ But he was speaking of the sanctuary that was his body, and when Jesus rose from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the scripture and the words he had said.” (Jn 2:19-22).
Yes, the Good Shepherd died and rose for our salvation. Behold, the paschal mystery of Jesus!
by Edward Carter S. J.
A number of our entries in this issue of the Newsletter deal explicitly with Christ’s paschal mystery, with His death and resurrection. Since we have just recently celebrated the liturgies of Good Friday and Easter, we thought it a particularly apt time to present various ideas concerning the paschal mystery.
Much of the world tries to escape suffering at all possible costs—and many of the escape routes are sinful ones. And such sinful pursuits increase the suffering one is trying to flee.
Certainly we may utilize any means which is according to God’s will to alleviate suffering, but to try to escape all suffering is as futile as striving to escape from one’s shadow.
As priests we have numerous opportunities to help others properly cope with suffering. The more we ourselves are united with the Christ Who suffered such a brutal death, the more we can help others see God’s plan for suffering—that it is meant to lead to greater life. Let us often recall the words of St. Paul:
“For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the Good News, and not to preach that in the terms of philosophy in which the crucifixion of Christ cannot be expressed. The language of the cross may be illogical to those who are not on the way to salvation, but those of us who are on the way see it as God’s power to save…And so, while the Jews demand miracles and the Greeks look for wisdom, here we are preaching a crucified Christ; to the Jews an obstacle that they cannot get over, to the pagans madness, but to those who have been called, whether they are Jews or Greeks, a Christ who is the power and the wisdom of God…” (1 Cor 1:17-24).
Thoughts On The Paschal Mystery
The Church in her Good Friday and Easter liturgies has just recently presented to us the paschal mystery of Jesus—His death and resurrection—in a very special way. In saying this we must remember that each Mass of every day makes sacramentally present the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Here are some thoughts concerning Jesus’ paschal mystery and our participation in it:
- St. Paul tells us: “All I want is to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and to share his sufferings by reproducing the pattern of his death. That is the way I can hope to take my place in the resurrection of the dead.” (Phil 3:10-11).
- When we are baptized we are incorporated into Christ’s paschal mystery of death and resurrection. St. Paul speaks of this marvelous union with Jesus: “You have been taught that when we were baptized in Christ Jesus we were baptized in his death; in other words, when we were baptized we went into the tomb with him and joined him in death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the Father’s glory, we too might live a new life.” (Rom 6:3-4).
Christ has structured the Christian life by the way He lived, died, and rose from the dead. It is obvious, then, as Paul tells us above, that the pattern of death-resurrection must be at the heart of the Church’s life. Individually and collectively, we continually die with Christ so that we may continually rise with Him. Thus we pass over in a process of ongoing religious transition to a greater participation in Christ’s resurrection. It is true that our participation in Christ’s resurrection will reach its completion only in eternity. Nevertheless, we begin the life of resurrection here upon the earth, in the here and now of human life, in the midst of joy and pain; in the experience of success and failure, in the sweat of our brow, in the enjoyment of God’s gifts. As Christians, we should have a sense of dynamic growth concerning our here and now life of resurrection.
We cannot maintain the life of resurrection or grow in it without a willingness to suffer. This does not mean that we need to feel overwhelmed and heavily burdened in our lives. The greater portion of suffering for most Christians seems to be an accumulation of ordinary hardships, difficulties, and pains. At times, however, deep suffering, even suffering of agonizing proportions, can enter into one’s life. Whether the sufferings one encounters are of either the more ordinary variety or the more rare and extreme type, Christians must convince themselves that to relate properly to the cross is to grow in resurrection, and growth in resurrection means we will also have an increased capacity to help give resurrection to others.
- Louis Evely observes: “The blessing of hospitals, of people condemned to death, of sanitariums, of all the places where one suffers, is that there people can be found who know that they need help, who no longer pretend to have no need of God or of anyone, who are freed from this exhausting comedy.”2
- Fr. Edward Leen, C.S.Sp., offers us these insightful words concerning the cross: “The cross, then, can have its degrees. God, by what He directly wills for us, or permits to happen to us, can give it a more intense form, in view of effecting in our souls a deeper purification and, in consequence, a closer contact with Himself. The more thorough the crucifixion that is willingly borne, the greater the degree of happiness, because the more perfectly will God be revealed to the soul.”3
- Fr. Peter van Breeman, S.J., succinctly observes: “We share the death of Christ. We empty ourselves. We enter the tomb, and in this way, we join Christ in his resurrection. We know the power of his resurrection and the peace that it brings with it. We experience the fruitfulness of a new life—new strength envelops us. Our baptism means that we open ourselves to Christ so that his life may continue through us.”4
- Caryll Houselander writes with great sensitivity regarding the second station of the Way of the Cross: “They put His own garments on Him again, and Jesus comes out from the judgment hall of Pilate to receive His cross.
“He comes to it gladly! This is a strange thing, for the cross is a symbol of shame, and it is to be His deathbed. Already He sees the very shape of His death in the wide-spread arms. From this moment He will be inseparable from it, until He dies on it. He will labor and struggle under the weight of it until the end comes. Yet Christ welcomes the cross, He embraces it. He takes it into His arms, as a man takes that which he loves into his arms. He lays His beautiful hands on it tenderly, those strong hands of a carpenter that are so familiar with the touch of wood.”5
- Bill Clarke, S.J., gives a concrete example of how joy and suffering are meant to coexist as he speaks of L’Arche, the community founded by Jean Vanier:
“L’Arche began in France in 1964 to give a permanent home to mentally handicapped adults. It seeks to unite the handicapped and those who assist them in a single community, inspired by a spirit of loving acceptance that will help all its members develop to their fullest potential as human beings…
“Almost everyone who comes to L’Arche is immediately impressed by the spirit of joy that prevails there. Yet anyone who comes to know the community more intimately cannot but be impressed, not to say overwhelmed, by the amount of suffering that is simply a part of its daily life.
“The living out in great intensity of these seemingly opposite experiences of joy and suffering, might be called the particular grace or vocation of L’Arche. Both the suffering and the joy are an integral part of the daily existence, but both have their moments of greater intensity and more external expression. There are the instances of crisis and there is death that crystallizes the suffering. The joy reaches its climax in moments of celebration. The one, however, is never entirely without the other, especially because both find their ultimate meaning in the single mystery—birth, death, and resurrection—the total mystery of life.”6
- To follow Jesus entails a willingness to suffer for Him and His cause. The furthering of any worthwhile cause demands a spirit of sacrifice, a willingness to endure a variety of hardships and difficulties. We cannot expect it to be otherwise regarding the cause of Christ. To follow Jesus, to spread His message, to help further the process of ongoing redemption, all this demands a price.
There is an almost endless variety of pains, sufferings, and difficulties which can arise in following Jesus and promoting His cause. At times seeing few, if any, visible results of our labors, feeling unappreciated, experiencing opposition, sometimes comprehending that we are being hated precisely by some of those whom we are striving to help, at times being laughed at and ridiculed—these are some of the ways we experience the sufferings of an apostle.
The suffering involved in contributing to the process of ongoing redemption is not, however, the complete picture. The happiness resulting from commitment to Christ and His mission far outweighs the hardships. To be aware that one is so intimately loved by Jesus, to experience the satisfaction that one is contributing to a cause that cannot fail, to play a role in helping to bring to others the peace and love of Jesus—all of this makes for a life that has no equal. The committed follower of Christ, experiencing what it means to be closely associated with Jesus, realizes why St. Peter said, “Lord,…it is wonderful for us to be here.” (Mt 17:4).
- St. Paul strikingly portrays the living of death-resurrection: “We are in difficulties on all sides, but never cornered; we see no answer to our problems, but never despair; we have been persecuted, but never deserted; knocked down, but never killed; always, wherever we may be, we carry with us in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus, too, may always be seen in our body. Indeed, while we are still alive, we are consigned to our death every day, for the sake of Jesus, so that in our mortal flesh the life of Jesus, too, may be openly shown.” (2 Cor 4:8-11).
- St. John of the Cross wrote much about how the cross, properly encountered, always leads to greater life—to a greater share in Christ’s resurrection here and hereafter. Here are some of his words regarding this fact:
“Though holy doctors have uncovered many mysteries and wonders, and devout souls have understood them in this earthly condition of ours, yet the greater part still remains to be unfolded by them, and even to be understood by them.
“We must then dig deeply in Christ. He is like a rich mine with many pockets containing treasures: however deep we dig we will never find their end or their limit. Indeed, in every pocket new seams of fresh riches are discovered on all sides…
“The gate that gives entry into these riches of His wisdom is the cross; because it is a narrow gate, while many seek the joys that can be gained through it, it is given to few to desire to pass through it.”7
- In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus Himself speaks to us about this paschal mystery, about the necessary connection between the cross and resurrection, between the cross and life:
“Then he said to them, ‘You foolish men! So slow to believe the full message of the prophets! Was it not ordained that the Christ should suffer and so enter into his glory?’ Then, starting with Moses and going through all the prophets, he explained to them the passages throughout the scriptures that were about himself.” (Lk 24:25-27).
His Death —
Have mercy, O Lord, have mercy on us!
O Lord Jesus Christ,
At prayer in the Garden of Olives,
Weeping with sadness and fear,
Comforted by an Angel.
O Lord Jesus Christ,
Betrayed by the kiss of Judas,
Abandoned by your apostles,
Delivered over to sinners.
O Lord Jesus Christ,
Buffeted, covered with spittle,
Bruised by the blows of soldiers,
Condemned to die on the cross.
O Lord Jesus Christ,
Scourged and crowned with thorns,
Clothed in a robe of purple,
Covered with scorn and shame.
O Lord Jesus Christ,
Burdened with your cross,
Mounting even to Calvary,
Bearing the weight of our sins,
O Lord Jesus Christ,
Stripped of your garments,
Given gall in your thirst,
Crucified with thieves,
O Lord Jesus Christ,
Forgiving your executioners,
Confiding your holy Mother
To your beloved disciple
O Lord Jesus Christ,
Breathing forth your spirit
Into the hands of your Father,
Dying for all sinners.8
— And Resurrection!
The day of resurrection!
Earth spread the news abroad;
The Paschal feast of gladness,
The Paschal feast of God.
From death to life eternal,
From earth to heaven’s height
Our Saviour Christ has brought us,
The glorious Lord of Light.
Our hearts be free from evil
That we may see aright
The Savior resurrected
In his eternal light;
And hear his message plainly,
Delivered calm and clear:
“Rejoice with me in triumph,
Be glad and do not fear.”
Now let the heav’ns be joyful,
And with her song begin,
The whole world keep high triumph
And all that is therein;
Let all things in creation
Their notes of gladness blend,
For Christ the Lord has risen,
Our joy that has no end.9
Thoughts On The Eucharist
The Eucharist is the chief source of growth in the spiritual life. We priests, called to have a special kind of union with Christ, should have a unique desire to grow in appreciation of the Eucharist. It is in the Eucharist that we unite with Jesus’ paschal mystery in a special way. Here are some reflections on the Eucharist, Jesus’ great gift of love to us:
- Pope John Paul II tells us: “The Church and the world have a great need of Eucharistic adoration. Jesus waits for us in the sacrament of love. Let us be generous with our time in going to meet him in adoration and contemplation that is full of faith and ready to make reparation for the great faults and crimes of the world. May our adoration never cease.”10
- Archbishop Luis M. Martinez offers us these inspiring words: “If we could dispose ourselves at least to think about what He suffered for each one of us! Our souls are enveloped in His tenderness and in His pain. We are the fruit of His love and His martyrdom. We increasingly receive His gifts of all kinds. We receive them tranquilly, at times joyfully. But those gifts are marked with the blood of Jesus, the blood from His veins and from his Heart. In order that we might taste the least of His heavenly consolations, Jesus had to taste the gall and vinegar of interior desolation…
“Each communion we receive cost Jesus the sacrifice of Calvary…Holy Communion is a banquet from heaven prepared with the blood of Jesus and the bitterness of His Heart.”11
The Priestly Call to Holiness
The priest is called to participate in Jesus’ death-resurrection in a most special way. Vatican II speaks to us about the priestly life of holiness. “By the sacrament of orders, priests are configured to Christ the Priest so that as ministers of the Head and co-workers of the episcopal order they can build up and establish His whole Body which is the Church. Already, indeed in the consecration of baptism, like all Christians, they received the sign and the gift of so lofty a vocation and a grace that even despite human weakness they can and must pursue according to the Lord’s words: ‘You therefore are to be perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect.’ (Mt 5:48).
“To the acquisition of this perfection, priests are bound by a special claim, since they have been consecrated to God in a new way by the reception of orders. They have become living instruments of Christ the eternal priest so that through the ages they can accomplish His wonderful work of reuniting the whole society of men with heavenly power. Therefore, since every priest in his own way represents Christ Himself, he is enriched with special grace.
“Priestly holiness itself contributes very greatly to a fruitful fulfillment of the priestly ministry. True, the grace of God can complete the work of salvation even through unworthy ministers. Yet ordinarily God desires to manifest His works through those whom we have been made particularly docile to the impulse and guidance of the Holy Spirit. Because of their intimate union with Christ and their holiness of life, these men can say with the apostle: ‘It is now no longer I that live, but Christ lives in me’ (Gal. 2:20).”12
The Christian And The World
Vatican II reminds us that Christ in His paschal mystery has entered into the world’s history, has taken this history to Himself, and has summarized it:
“For God’s Word, through whom all things were made, was Himself made flesh and dwelt on the earth of men. Thus He entered the world’s history as a perfect man, taking that history up into Himself and summarizing it. He Himself revealed to us that ‘God is love’ (1 Jn 4:8). At the same time he taught us that the new command of love was the basic law of human perfection and hence of the world’s transformation.
“To those, therefore, who believe in divine love, He gives assurance that the way of love lies open to all men and that the effort to establish a universal brotherhood is not a hopeless one. He cautions them at the same time that this love is not something to be reserved for important matters, but must be pursued chiefly in the ordinary circumstances of life.
“Undergoing death itself for all of us sinners, He taught us by example that we too must shoulder that cross which the world and the flesh inflict upon those who search after peace and justice. Appointed Lord by His resurrection and given plenary power in heaven and on earth, Christ is now at work in the hearts of men through the energy of His Spirit. He arouses not only a desire for the age to come, but, by that very fact, he animates, purifies, and strengthens those noble longings too by which the human family strives to make its life more human and to render the whole earth submissive to the goal.
“Now, the gifts of the Spirit are diverse. He calls some to give clear witness to the desire for a heavenly home and to keep that desire green among the human family. He summons others to dedicate themselves to the earthly service of men and to make ready the material of the celestial realm by this ministry of theirs. Yet He frees all of them so that by putting aside love of self and bringing all earthly resources into the service of human life they can devote themselves to that future when humanity itself will become an offering accepted by God.
“The Lord left behind a pledge of this hope and strength for life’s journey in that sacrament of faith where natural elements refined by man are changed into His glorified Body and Blood, providing a meal of brotherly solidarity and a foretaste of the heavenly banquet.”13
Our participation in Jesus’ death-resurrection includes our service of love to others.
In rarer moments of heroic reflection, we perhaps have dreamed of sensational ways through which we may be called to lay down our lives for our neighbor. For most of us, however, such opportunities will probably never occur, and this is just as well. Our courage could well be far less in a real situation than it is in the inflated proportions of dreamlike musings. Most people perform much better in the less heroic atmosphere of everyday sameness. Yet each day, so ordinarily similar to both the one which has preceded and the one which will follow, offers constant opportunities for the laying down of one’s life for others. If these daily opportunities are less sensational than the more heroic occasions, they are much more numerous and therefore much more consistently present as possibilities for serving others.
Dying daily for others means many things. It means curbing those persistent, selfish tendencies which, if left unchecked, gradually narrow our vision so that we hardly think of anyone but ourselves. Dying daily for others means working at being kind and patient—seemingly little things, but immensely important in maintaining a spirit of harmony in the course of human affairs. Dying daily for others means fidelity to our work, even though this fidelity must be expressed amid temptations such as discouragement, laziness, and disinterest. Dying daily for our neighbor means these and many other things, some of which we all share in common, some of which are peculiar to each person’s uniqueness. One of these common elements is this: dying for others in daily and varied fashion is an expression of our present concern while at the same time it increases our capacity for future love.
Jesus, of course, is our great exemplar regarding the service of others: “You know that among the pagans the rulers lord it over them, and their great men make their authority felt. This is not to happen among you. No; anyone who wants to be great among you must be your servant, and anyone who wants to be first among you must be your slave, just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mt 20:25-28).
Pope John Paul II Speaks About Children And All Of Us
The children of the world are among our most precious treasures. The Holy Father speaks insightfully about children and all of us:
“Little children very soon learn about life. They watch and imitate the behavior of adults. They rapidly learn love and respect for others, but they also quickly absorb the poison of violence and hatred. Family experiences strongly condition the attitudes which children will assume as adults. Consequently, if the family is the place where children first encounter the world, the family must be for children the first school of peace.
“Parents have an extraordinary opportunity to help their sons and daughters to become aware of this great treasure: the witness of their mutual love. It is by loving each other that they enable the child, from the very first moment of its existence, to grow up in peaceful surroundings, imbued with the positive values which make up the family’s true heritage: mutual respect and acceptance, listening, sharing, generosity, forgiveness. Thanks to the sense of working together which these values foster, they provide a true education for peace and make the child, from its earliest years, an active builder of peace.
“Children share with their parents and brothers and sisters the experience of life and hope. They see how life’s inevitable trials are met with humility and courage, and they grow up in an atmosphere of esteem for others and respect for opinions different from their own.
“It is above all in the home that, before even a word is spoken, children should experience God’s love in the love which surrounds them. In the family they learn that God wants peace and mutual understanding among all human beings, who are called to be one great family.
“Children are not a burden of society; they are not a means of profit or people without rights. Children are precious members of the human family, for they embody its hopes, its expectations and its potential.
“Peace is a gift of God; but man and woman must first accept this gift in order to build a peaceful world. People can do this only if they have a childlike simplicity of heart. This is one of the most profound and paradoxical aspects of the Christian message: to become childlike is more than just a moral requirement but a dimension of the mystery of the Incarnation itself.
“The Son of God did not come in power and glory, as he will at the end of the world, but as a child, needy and poor. Fully sharing our human condition in all things but sin (cf. Heb 4:15), he also took on the frailty and hope for the future which are part of being a child. After that decisive moment for the history of humanity, to despise childhood means to despise the One who showed the greatness of his love by humbling himself and forsaking all glory in order to redeem mankind…
“Jesus asked the disciples to become ‘children’ again (Mk 10:14-15). Jesus thus turned around our way of thinking. Adults need to learn from children the ways of God: seeing children’s capacity for complete trust, adults can learn to cry out with true confidence, ‘Abba, Father!’
“To become like a little child—with a complete trust in the Father and with the meekness taught by the Gospel—is not only an ethical imperative: it is a reason for hope. Even where the difficulties are so great as to lead to discouragement and the power of evil so overwhelming as to dishearten, those who can rediscover the simplicity of a child can begin to hope anew. This is possible above all for those who know they can trust in a God who desires harmony among all persons in the peaceful communion of his kingdom. It is also possible for those who, though not sharing the gift of faith, believe in the values of forgiveness and solidarity and see in them—not without the hidden action of the Spirit—the possibility of renewing the face of the earth.
“It is therefore to men and women of good will that I address this confident appeal. Let us all unite to fight every kind of violence and to conquer war! Let us create the conditions which will ensure that children can receive as the legacy of our generation a more united and fraternal world!”14
Our growth according to Jesus’ pattern of death-resurrection is impossible without a life of prayer. Growth in prayer not only increases our love of God, but also enhances our loving concern for others.
A great example of this is seen in the study of the prayer life of Catherine of Sienna, saint and doctor of the church. Sr. Mary O’Driscoll, O.P., tells us:
“Twenty-six of Catherine of Siena’s prayers have been preserved for us. With one possible exception, they are not prayers that she herself wrote or even dictated to others. Rather, they were transcribed by her followers who were present as she prayed aloud. All of these prayers belong to the last four years of her life. They impress us by their simplicity, their intense concentration on God, who is repeatedly praised and thanked, and their constant desire for the salvation of others…
“As her Prayers make evident, Catherine of Sienna was a great intercessor. In them we find her pleading with God persistently and urgently for mercy for all the world, the Church, the pope, her friends and followers, all in need. It is obvious that she does not regard intercession as merely a passing prayer to God on behalf of one or other persons in time of crisis, but rather as an expression of her deep, loving, permanent commitment both to God and to her neighbors. In Catherine’s own life, the importance and intensity of her intercession increased according as her union with God and her concern for others increased. This observation tells us something very significant about the prayer of intercession in the Christian life, namely, that it is not, as is sometimes thought, a type of prayer which one passes on the way to the heights of mystical prayer, as though intercession were for beginners and mysticism for those who are advanced in the spiritual life, but as a type of prayer which belongs most particularly to the life of contemplative union with God.”15
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 the 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.
The Holy Spirit In Our Lives
The Holy Spirit desires to fashion us into an ever greater likeness of Christ according to Jesus’ pattern of death-resurrection. Mary our Mother cooperates with the Spirit, whose spouse she is, in this process. Obviously, we should pray to the Holy Spirit each day. There are many ways we can do this. We can do this by simply turning our attention to the Spirit at various times during the day as we ask for His guidance. This method can also be complemented by saying certain established prayers. Here is a Holy Spirit prayer from the Church’s Liturgy of the Hours:
Father, Lord of earth and heaven,
King to whom all gifts belong,
Give your greatest Gift, your Spirit,
God the holy, God the strong.
Son of God, enthroned in glory,
Send your promised Gift of grace,
Make your Church your holy Temple,
God the Spirit’s dwelling place.
Spirit, come, in peace descending
As at Jordan, heav’nly Dove,
Seal your Church as God’s anointed,
Set our hearts on fire with love.
Stay among us, God the Father,
Stay among us, God the Son,
Stay among us, Holy Spirit:
Dwell within us, make us one.16
We thank all those who have taken the time to write to us. We very much appreciate your letters. Space limitations permit us to publish only a few of these:
Dear Fr. Carter,
Thank you for your valuable newsletter of spirituality for priests.
Fraternally,Msgr. Walter Schroeder Church of the Magdalene North Tarrytown, New York
I’ve read every issue of Shepherds of Christ, which is rather rare, because I’ve received a ton of junk mail every day. Thanks for taking time out to share your inspiring reflections with us who are “too busy.” Just a token to defray some of your costs.
In Christ,Msgr. Dominic M. Luong
Mary Queen of Vietnam Church New Orleans, Louisiana
Dear Father Ed,
Thank you for your Nov/Dec Newsletter. Some paragraphs are clearly gifts of the Holy Spirit for me. Keep up the great work for Jesus Christ.
In JMJ,Gus Biehl, S.M. East St. Louis, Illinois
Dear Fr. Carter,
Thank you for your most welcome newsletter. I read it gradually, one section at a time, so I can sit with and let sink in the penetrating thoughts you have gleaned from a wonderful variety of sources. If it weren’t for this well-chosen digest I would not meet some of the spiritual writers you feature. Yours is an excellent resource for contemplatives on a tight schedule.
In Christ’s peace,Frank Desiderio, C.S.P. St. Paul’s College Washington, D.C.
I am enclosing a donation for Shepherds of Christ which I find uplifting and inspiring.
Rev. Gino Dalpiaz, C.S. Scalabrini
Mission Center Stone Park, Illinois
- Scriptural quotations are taken from The Jerusalem Bible, Doubleday & Co.
- Luis Evely, Suffering, Herder & Herder, p. 96.
- Fr. Edward Leen, C.S.Sp., Why the Cross?, Sheed and Ward, pp. 95-96.
- Fr. Peter van Breeman, S.J., As Bread That is Broken, Dimension, p. 95.
- Caryll Houselander, The Way of the Cross, Sheed and Ward, p. 21.
- Bill Clarke, S.J., Enough Room for Joy, Paulist Press, pp 13 and 71.
- St. John of the Cross, as in The Liturgy of the Hours, Catholic Book Publishing Co., Vol I, pp. 1246-1247.
- The Liturgy of the Hours, op. cit., Vol II, p. 403.
- Ibid., p. 543.
- Pope John Paul II, “On the Mystery of and Worship of the Holy Eucharist”, April 1980, as in Apostles of the Holy Spirit Bulletin, Winter 1995.
- Archbishop Luis Martinez, Only Jesus, B. Herder Book Co., pp. 212-213.
- The Documents of Vatican II, “Decree on the Ministry and Life of Priests,” America Press Edition, Ch 3, No. 12.
- Ibid., “Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World,” No. 38.
- Pope John Paul II, “Let us Give Children a Future of Peace,” Dec. 8, 1995, as in Inside the Vatican, February, 1996.
- Catherine of Siena, Selected Writings, ed., Mary O’Driscoll, O.P., New City Press, p. 50.
- The Liturgy of the Hours, op. cit., Vol. II, p. 1027.
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