Mass celebrated for priests ordained less than ten years at Amberley, Lower Plenty

Monday 15 May 2017

My dear Brothers in the Priesthood,

While I thank you for all that you are doing, I would propose to you the words of the Gospel; loving Jesus means keeping his word and being united with Jesus and his Father. Just as Jesus remembers that his word is not his own, so we remember that the words we are called to utter and the example we are called to show, indeed is that of Christ the one who sent us.

The enduring power of the Gospel of course is that the Holy Spirit will continue to teach us and to remind us of all that Jesus has said to us. In the early years of priesthood there is a very humbling excitement at the way in which people trust the priesthood and in which we are able to help people to come and know Christ more deeply. This of course means that what we have to offer must never be from an empty well. 

Our own regular prayer and offering Mass with fervour according to the mind of the Church will nourish us well. Regular reception of the Sacrament of confession will help us to be palpably aware of our weakness, so that as frail vessels when we sit in the person of Christ forgiving and healing others it will be the words and deeds of Christ that shine out through us. In the words of Cardinal Newman: “None of it will be from us. All of it will be from him.”

It is important too in the light of the powerful healing demonstrated in the first Reading and the reminder that the priesthood is not about us or our seeking attention. Sometimes it fascinates me that when we are in a procession at a big celebration some of our brothers seek to be the centre of attention as they go down the church, rather than generously giving ourselves to the whole. The power that the Lord gave in curing the crippled man at Lystra is an invitation to use the gifts we have humbly, founded always on Christ and on his word, knowing always in the words of Psalm: “Not to us O Lord, but to your name give the glory”, and reminding us that we have to live and work under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. 

Prayer in our life, regular access to a spiritual director, because no one of us is an island and can make our own decisions independently of how we are seen objectively. We can ask ourselves whether we have others with whom we share our ministry and desires as priests. Is there a group of priests with whom we associate regularly and discuss spiritual things? Does some supervision, as in the dedicated professions, help us to see and evaluate our own ministry? Does access to renewal and deepening our learning show us the pattern that the Holy Spirit wishes for us?

If we are in a constant readiness to learn and to open our hearts to the Holy Spirit, evaluated objectively by others, then we can be sure that what we are doing and saying is of Jesus Christ.

Today I pray for each of you that we together will learn that great lesson and humbly accept the guidance and support of others, so that the priesthood may be manifest as a love of Jesus Christ, a service given in integrity, motivated by keeping his word, always knowing that we are at home with Jesus and the Father in the Holy Spirit.

+ Denis J. Hart,
Archbishop of Melbourne.
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