God gives you hope if you but trust in his Word,
God gives you strength if you believe in His Way,
God gives you love if you but open wide your hearts,
God gives you peace when your sorrow fills you to the brim.
To you, dear brother priests, with love from Jesus, Your Friend.
In declaring the ‘Year of the Priest’ which is from 19 June 2009 to 19 June 2010 to commemorate the 150th death anniversary of St John Mary Vianney, Pope Benedict XVI wishes the priests to renew themselves by following the inspiring life of St John Vianney, the patron of all the priests. St Vianney’s faith-filled life was a clarion call to the priests to desire deeply for personal sanctification and pastoral satisfaction. He realized early in his formative years that no matter however inadequate he was in studies and personal talents God could make his priestly ministry effective. He was in communion with God and exuded a spirit of prayer in his person, word and deed. That’s why he could touch his people and transform them through his exemplary life. To his brother priests and his parishioners, he was a mirror of God’s compassion. He offered his whole life towards the pastoral care of his flock. That’s why forever he would remain a beacon of light to all the priests and the seminarians.
The ‘Year of the Priest’ is a golden opportunity for us to love our priests, to be proud of them, and to support and encourage them. This year, in a very special way, let our priests feel loved, respected, valued, and supported in their vocation. Here comes our responsibility to give our courteous smile, to utter our encouraging and kind words, and to offer our prayers to build cordial relationships to help our priests to live their priestly vocation meaningfully. In a special way, we all are invited to offer up to God various spiritual deeds for the sanctification of the priests especially of our Delhi Archdiocese. Let all that we do be done out of love for Christ and his priests!
Who are the priests we pray for? They are the priests who baptize our children, who give us the Holy Communion, who mediate God’s forgiving grace upon us at the confessional, who confirm us in the Spirit, who stand in God’s place at the wedding of our children, who carry JESUS to the sick and the old, who offer them God’s consolation and silent accompaniment in their moments of loneliness, and who share our pain when we bid our beloved ones eternal farewell. They are the ones who offer a kind look when we need one, who listen to us with empathy when we look for an understanding heart, who pray for us silently when we look for miracles in our life, who work tirelessly in the mission stations to bring smiles on the faces of the poor, the illiterate, the marginalized, and especially the women. That’s marvellous to sink in, isn’t it?
Being aware of the good works done by most priests and the frailty of a few priests, our Archbishop Vincent M Concessao, says, “An unpleasant experience here and there or the infidelity of a few should not distort the positive image that the vast majority of the clergy presents.” Dear friends, priesthood is a self-gift from God, the giver of life and a sheer expression of His unconditional love in and through the person of Jesus. It is God who provides the priests the necessary graces to present Him sacramentally through their ministerial priesthood. God turns everything unto our good when we love him and respond to him in faith and trust.
May Mary, the Mother of all the priests, fill them with a renewed vigour to celebrate the precious gift of priesthood after the model of Jesus the Celibate, in the ‘Year of the Priest’! May the waves of God’s infinite love reach out to all our beloved priests! God Bless!
Fr Arockia Dhas