June tends to be the month of Ordinations to the Priesthood. In our Diocese of Motherwell, we have been greatly blessed with two Ordinations in the past week, and another three to follow later in the year. The picture here shows the moment when newly-ordained Father Bernard Mournian blesses his mother; it is a beautiful and deeply touching image and when I look at it, I cannot help but think of the Lord Himself and His own Mother, Who is the Queen of Priests.
In an age when we are constantly told how Priestly vocations are declining, these recent Ordinations are a tremendous blessing for the Diocese and it’s people, and for the Church generally.
The life of a Priest is not an easy one – and yet despite this, good men come forward to dedicate themselves in service to the Lord and to His Church. I am sure that for all it’s difficulties, the Lord tips the balance of the Priestly life, making it one of great joy and reward; after all, He is the Fount of every grace and blessing, and His grace makes the life of the Priest possible and fruitful. Only then can the Priest can do what he was ordained to do – to act ‘in persona Christi’ – that is, to be ‘another Christ’ to the people he serves.
Reading the Diary of Saint Faustina, she comments on many occasions on the Priests with whom she has contact, particularly her Spiritual Directors. The role of the Priests in the Divine Mercy devotion is crucial.
From the earliest days of the devotion, the Priests were needed to pass the message of mercy from the humble Sister to the wider world; Father Sopocko would spend his own money in achieving this later on, and in securing the services of an artist in the painting of the Divine Mercy Image, as well as writing the first text on the new form of devotion which had been revealed to the nun. Father Sopocko and Father Andrasz were also crucial in spiritually directing the sister – indeed, it was through obedience to her confessors that we have the Diary itself.
There are many references within the Diary to the role of Priests, specifically in relation to the message of mercy, and also at the broader level. Priests were very dear to the heart of St Faustina, a trait she shared in common with the great St Therese of Lisieux. St Faustina wrote –
“O Jesus, give us fervent and holy Priests! Oh, how great is the dignity of the Priest, but at the same time, how great is his responsibility. Much has been given to you, O Priest, but much will be demanded of you.” (Diary, para. 941)
Later in the Diary, she spells out very clearly her regard for these ‘other Christs’ –
“Oh, how much reverence I have for Priests; and I am asking Jesus, the High Priest, to grant them many graces.” (Diary, para.953)
At this time of Ordinations to the Priesthood, it is easier to remember to pray for Priests – the newly-ordained, as well as our own parish Priests. But perhaps this is an intention we can keep close to our hearts always, every day of the year. Like St Faustina, we can remember Priests in our daily prayers, asking the Merciful Lord to grant them every grace and blessing. Without them, we would not have the Sacraments, particularly Confession and the Eucharist – and the loss of these two is a dreadful thought! Priests give a great deal for us – their lives, in fact; keeping them constantly in our prayers is a small way of repaying their lives of service on our behalf.
May the Merciful Lord, Who has called Priests into His service, grant them every grace to sustain them in their work for the Church and for souls, and bless them abundantly. And may Mary, the Mother of the Church and the Queen of Priests, smile upon them and lead them ever closer to Her Divine Son, Our Lord.