Thursday, June 9, 2022

My latest column: “Thirty Years A Priest Of Jesus Christ”

 June 9, 2022


Some describe God as a writer, most often in self-deprecation. God is good, we know it is certain. He wills what is good, brings good about. But He must on this Earth, with human beings, always employ sinners in His plan. Thus the “straight” writing of His ever-perfect will, as it is often described, is accomplished always with “crooked lines”.

His design appears visible only slowly through the fits and starts of time’s passage. He sees all, we also know; past, present, and future appearing simultaneously in what we describe as His omniscience. He sees what we will be and how what we are at any given moment will dovetail either well or poorly with what He intends for us. This depends to some degree always on how well we cooperate or not with His will as it presents itself to our limited conception.

But with the passage of years, it is given to us to look back and with the vantage of hindsight to appreciate how we got out of His way when necessary. But also we can, with gratitude, see how well He condescended in mercy to use our gifts for His greater glory and for souls. He forgives what He cannot merely overlook, so that what is sinful and thus an impediment to His will can no longer serve to frustrate it: our salvation.

Glory belongs to God by right. He alone is great and most good. He alone is holy. He blesses us to perceive Him thus in some small ways according to our capacity by grace. But we must respond to what we know of Him if we would have integrity and be guided by conscience.
We also learn that He is love and that He loves every human person within the embrace of the Trinitarian communion of perfect love and life. And we learn that if we would be like Him our embrace of love must include others as well as self

God is all holy, He is love and, infinitely extending that love to souls, He wills their salvation. In Christ we know and believe He reveals all of this and all of truth in the most perfect way.

Each of us must find ourselves within His plan and discover our own role in carrying it out for His glory and for souls. Those called to priesthood He creates as His closest collaborators by means of Ordination.

So, with thirty years ordained a priest this year on June 6, I contemplate His work and give Him thanks.

God may be a writer but perhaps He is also a kind of weaver. What begins at various ages in a life as threads or skeins of talent, experience or gift, begin to wind and combine into the pattern of a life, the warp and weft grow. These threads are being woven together with or without our being fully conscious of the process. In the Lord’s time they will together make something greater

The disparate lines in a life are brought together to form a pattern. Time seems to start slowly and to pick up speed as we age. So with it also slowly begins the evidence of Providence and His ways.
So many disparate threads are woven through days, months, and then years into a design of God’s doing.

As we cooperate with His grace so He weaves our acts, our thoughts and skills into a life that can praise His glory.

Writing for student newspapers and now currently a columnist for this newspaper trained me for taking responsibility for forming and expressing meaningful thoughts as homilies at Mass. And in other ways communicating the matters of private interior life of the spirit to assist others in appropriating and growing into mature faith.
High school musicals fed into better speaking and acting skills as a leader of public prayer. One learns the poise and bearing necessary to overcome youthful inhibition and timidity. Starring in the musicals and singing in the parish choir led later to four years with the chorus at Fordham University and a concert solo there. Singing the Mass is always possible in the Vatican II version, and I did it often to solemnize the prayer. High Masses in our tradition allow for singing only when a lay schola is available to assist that which we do often in the parish currently.

A sense of one’s bearing and appearance learned through Army drill and ceremony in ROTC and as an Armor officer is used today in executing the precise physical movements necessary for offering the Traditional Mass. Army and Navy active duty conferred leadership skills necessary to take responsibility for making decisions and serving as a father for the parish family.

Only later in life when someone told me I had a gift for languages did I recognize the fact. Language adept or no, we all had to struggle with modern languages beginning in high school. It was necessary later for both the BA and MA degree. My academic language was German. I learned Spanish working in early parish assignment after Ordination; upon Ordination I used Latin whenever offering Mass without a congregation. Italian was obtained by immersion during two years living in Italy on Navy assignment. All these led to the most intense experience of Latin use in Traditional liturgy daily now as a pastor at St. Francis de Sales in Benedict, Md.

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