The global lay apostolate for vocations in the Catholic Church
The Priesthood (Rev. Msgr. Walter Scheaffer July 11th 2013)
When Joe Zawaly relayed the message and asked me to talk to you, I asked him what was the topic? He said well
after Fr. Joseph Ganser's First Mass he thought you wanted me to talk about the priesthood. So if you came
expecting a different topic I am sorry.
There lies hidden a mystery or priesthood. I know there is so much more but I do not know what it is. When
Christ endowed His apostles with the grace of reenacting what He especially did at the Last Supper, he meant for
each of them to be "another Christ" not merely in replicating the offering of bread and wine in remembrance of
him, but also in representing him in their persons and relations, in their teaching and living. During the three
years they stayed with him He was molding them into his own image which when accomplished would equip them to be
what he showed himself to be toward the end of his life, namely, The Priest. His last act before he died was a
priestly act offering sacrifice, himself the victim. Eventually the Apostles who became priests also became
sacrifice as martyrs and through their service, thus the model of priest. Do we dare demand that the present day
priests take on this model of priesthood? In a society seeking to remove all pain and suffering this model may
seem outdated or absurd. This image of Christ suffering we can see and understand and it may turn many off, and
it has, but what about the mystery of the priesthood since suffering is not so great a mystery, for many
suffering in various ways not just priests.
The mystery of the priesthood is less obvious and takes time to be recognized by people of faith. It will be
after death, that a priest will really understand the mystery he has become. St. John Vianney said: A priest is
a man holding God's place. A man invested with all God's powers. A mediator between God and Sinner and can only
be understood in Heaven. If one met an angel and a priest, I would greet the priest first.
At the homily as Fr. Granser's first mass I shared a meditation on the icon of the Ministerial Priesthood. The
icon built on the icon of the Holy Trinity by Rublev images the sacrifice offered by the priest, the love and
mercy shared through the priest from Christ to his people imaged as two rays flowing from the side of Christ as
in the divine mercy image but not flowing directly to souls but first to very concentrated rays through the
hand of the priest which then fan out to people. The offering of his own sacrifice and prayer as was well as
those of his flock to the Father in are imaged in the icon as incense and smoke raising to up to the Father and
the Word of God proclaimed as imaged by golden shoes worn by the priest in the icon, in Isaiah we read "How
lovely on the mountains Are the feet of him who brings good news, Who announces peace And brings good news of
happiness, Who announces salvation, And says to Zion, "Your God reigns!" What the priest does is not all mystery.
People can see some of it, but the spiritual dimension of the ministry is not always seen or known.
The mystery of the sacrament of Holy Orders is more in the change in the man that takes place at ordination and
even before. The ontological change that takes place in a man at ordination, which is not easily defined or
recognized. A change in his very being takes place in so far as he is prefigured to Christ. Sometimes the church
calls it a character as there are characters received in baptism and Confirmation. Ordination brings to fruition
a process that has been going on for sometime in a person's life. This growth in listening to God and the people
of God while trying to facilitate between God and people continues on after ordination in a more intense and
priestly manor but even before ordination the listening is very much a part of the seminarians life. If they
earn to listen to God they will be able to minister in his name and for Him in an authentic and genuine way, and
not only in the name of Christ but also in the name of his Church in a universal way. Yet ordination leads to a
very particular church where the priest will share the life and Word of God through his ministry of Word
Sacrament and Charity. Charity is the love of God demonstrated by the priest in his service of God's people:
demonstrated by his obedience to his bishop and his rejection of worldly goods, so that the spiritual valuables
become more obvious in his life style and representation of God to his flock.
St. Bernard the master of the balance between the spiritual life and the active apostolate said. If we are wise
we will be like reservoirs and not channels. A reservoir holds its water and only the over flow leaves to serve
others. The reservoir has to be continually fed by spring and fissures of water. The channel dissipates its
water quickly and has no way of filling up again. The spiritual life of the priest is springs and fissures from
which he keeps filling the reservoir. If he is not being filled by Christ, the n like a channel, he will run
dry. In prayer and ministry he listens and grows so to be able to share. In the body the heart muscle keeps
pumping blood at all times so the whole body is constantly replenished where the arm muscle of the body can rest
and is not used at all times. The contemplative dimension of the priesthood constantly nourishes the priest
like the heart constantly nourishes the body so that he is ever loving and serving. If he is like the arm, he
will be hot and cold. It is in the development of the interior life says St. Bernard that a priest lives more
purely, falls rarely, recovers more promptly advances more surely, receives more graces, dies more calmly and
gains greater recompense.
He Eucharist has to be seen in the context of the Church's ministry of love reaching out with hope in a service
of charity, e.g. in the works of mercy. An authentic Priest is a man of charity. Religious priest follow the way
of the Evangelical Councils which are a road map to sanctity and holiness, but the diocesan priest does not take
vows of Poverty, Chastity and obedience. A vow of obedience to the ordinary of the diocese and promise of
celibacy to his bishop are made. Religious see themselves on the way to holiness. We as diocesan priests are
expected to practice and be holy. Why? Holiness is closeness to God based on love of God and charity is the very
line action of Christ to the world. The church is to minister in love. Priests are to be lovers to God's people.
Espoused with Christ and as Christ is espoused to his people. In love our ministry must be filled with pastoral
zeal, prayer and some ascetic practices to support the love and charity of Christ to his people. We find holiness
in the object of our priesthood, the charity in which our priesthood is steeped. We follow Christ and are holy
like him in bringing his love to his people in Sacrament, Word and action. We give our lives for and to our
people. The greatest act of love. St. Francis DeSales says that pastoral zeal is simply a more intense love. Fr.
George Aschenbrenner speaks of it as a fire, a creative fire called down by the priest to minister to the souls
of the people of God. More is expected of us because we have a greater inheritance of charity to administer, we
are responsible for more, we have more contact with the liturgy, which celebrates the mysteries of grace and
more is expected because we are in continual communication with souls. The priest sacrifice is this: The Lord
asks martyrdom of the heart and will, not the body. His promise of celibacy is a sign of his limitless
availability to Christ and his people. Poverty and simplicity of life is a participation in the life of the poor
Christ, a condition in which many of Christ's people live. Obedience equals sacrifice and service to the Church.
Asceticism is needed at times in the daily life of the priest ministry. Some devils can only be cast out by
prayer and fasting, said Christ.
The Cure of Ars Once said, "My friend, the devil is not greatly afraid of instruments of penance. That which
beats him is the curtailment of one's food, drink, and sleep. There is nothing the devil fears more, consequently
nothing is more pleasing to God. Oh, how often I have experienced it! When I was alone, it happened at times that
I refrained from food for entire days. On those occasions, I obtained, both for myself and for others, whatever I
asked of Almighty God."
Caritas in Veritate; Poe Benedict "Only in truth does charity shine forth. Say what you mean, mean what you say
and live what you mean. For that fire of love to flow through the priest he must be man of truth.
CEO Washington. When I speak to have integrity What I think, what I say and What I do must be consistent. In
Washington to hold things together What one says, What one Thinks and what one Does: each are different. In such
a situation integrity and love are impossible. So the priest must be a man of love of integrity and one with
Christ in charity.
No greater contribution has been made to the spirituality of man or to civilization than through the cult of the
priesthood in the history of man.
A priest is for the world and God's people. He can't do one act solidly for himself as a priest.
The more people become aware of their proper dignity. The more they feel the need for priests who are true
Mary participates in the work of Redemption therefore she has to be included in the ministry of the Priest. She
is the dispenser of all graces flowing from her Son. As she stood at the foot of the cross, so she stands by the
priest at mass as her Son is offered along with our gifts to the Father.
We aspire to live the spiritual life of Christ and above all to, reproduce His principal act - the sacrifice of
the Cross - with all the dispositions of love. We also aspire to abandon ourselves to the Father and to have
compassion toward souls as Christ did. How can we do such things if we do not inaugurate our spiritual life from
the place where he decided to begin his own, in the womb of Mary What Christ started to the his disciples about
his passion is application to his whole, life. If one serves me he must follow me, for where I am, there shall
my servant be.
If Christ the Head of the Church, the Head of his people, was born of Mary, by natural consequences, the
predestined who are members of this Head, must also be born of her. The Head and body members are one.
When Mary held the Christ child in her arms and looked upon him she saw a human child. And he acted so. When she
looked upon him with faith she saw God. She conducted her self in her life with the same light of faith with
which we were given to regulate our lives She is an example of the life of faith. St. Grignion of Monrtfort
invites us to root ourselves in Mary like resting in the "mold" which formed Christ and which can do now nothing
but reproduce perfect images of Him. He said we must throw ourselves and lose our selves in Mary. We will become
authentic priests in the measure in which we are formed by Mary. As a priest looks at the host he sees bread but
through the eyes of faith he sees. Christ. A Christ becomes incarnate I the womb of Mary He becomes incarnate in
he hands of the priest. Cure of Ars
One single act of love from Christ would have been sufficient to bring about our redemption, to pay back to the
Father the infinite debt which man has contracted to divine justice, to make reparation for the immeasurably
grave offense man has done against God. The Priest and Christ are so one, being prefigured to Christ. What the
priest does in charity so does Christ. Is a single act of Charity by a priest enough to gain the salvation of