MASS CELEBRATED BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS HART AT SAINT PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL, MELBOURNE, ON SUNDAY 2 AUGUST 2009 AT 11AM.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today’s Gospel speaks of the Eucharist as our permanent and lasting nourishment for eternal life.
I welcome members of Serra, involved in promoting vocations to the priesthood and religious life, and also family members and friends of priests as we celebrate the annual vocations week.
This year we celebrate the Year of the Priest, helping us to realise that the priesthood not merely makes Christ present, but is the showing of the love of Jesus Christ to each of us in our daily life. When we receive Jesus we receive all that we need for life’s journey because we are made for eternity, imperishable. We live on the Word of God, on the reality of his gift to us in the Eucharist, knowing that he will not desert us.
Let us call to mind our sins.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
At Mass today, in this week when we think about vocations to the priesthood and religious life, we are joined by family members and friends of priests.
On 19th June Pope Benedict established this year until the same date next year as the Year of the Priest. He did it so that priests would realise that because we say that a priest is another Christ then he has to strive after personal perfection in life and to bring the love of Christ, his compassion and his forgiveness to people. In this way we hope that the priesthood will be more known and that each of us will be drawn more directly to holiness of life, which draws us to God and gives us a new readiness to walk with our sisters and brothers in our common journey.
The many duties of the priesthood – offering Mass to bring people to God, baptising, marrying, forgiving them in the Sacrament of Penance, preparing them for major events in life, being with them when they are sick or dying, all because a priest is the human communication of Christ’s love to whom was given a special call to be another Christ.
In the materialism of the modern world priests can often be forgotten. Saint John Mary Vianney went to a distant parish in his diocese where he died one hundred and fifty years ago. It was a small, remote village, where the love of God had gone cold and the priest was shunned. Over the years of his remarkable service it became a centre of God’s forgiveness and love where people travelled all over France to be with him.
Often priests have to suffer or endure pain, either because of their own weakness or because of the deeds of others. Nevertheless, this sharing in the passion of Christ leads to a joyful realisation of the greatness of God’s gift, bringing them to be good pastors, afire with the love of God and of souls, and insightful, patient, spiritual guides.
Saint John Vianney even said: “Without the Sacrament of Orders we would not have the Lord. Who put him there in that tabernacle? The priest. Who welcomed your soul at the beginning of your life? The priest. Who feeds your soul and gives it strength for its journey? The priest. Who will prepare it to appear before God, bathing it one last time in the blood of Jesus Christ? The priest. And if this soul should happen to die, who will restore its calm and peace? Again, the priest. After God the priest is everything. Only in heaven will he fully realise who he is.”
Saint John Vianney went to the village of Ars with 230 souls, being warned by his bishop: “There is little love of God in that parish. You will be the one to put it there.” He chose the church as his home, entering it before dawn, and did not leave it until after the evening Angelus. There he was to be found. And yet he knew how to visit the whole of his parish, going to the sick and to families, organising missions, collecting a