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Friday, 10 April 2009

Affirming priests in their vocation

Yesterday St George's Cathedral saw the gathering of clergy for the celebration of the Chrism Mass. Above you can see our vocations director, Fr Stephen Langridge demonstrating to Fr Martin Edwards and two seminarians from the North American College in Rome a new Tae Kwon Do move for defending oneself against an assailant with a guitar.

As usual, there was a group ready to greet the clergy as they entered in procession, to thank them for their priestly ministry and to offer them a little prayer card with a picture of Our Lady and some text from one of the speeches or homilies of the Holy Father. This year, the card had the Salvi Madonna (with "Our Lady Queen of the Clergy, pray for priests"):

On the reverse was a quotation from Pope Benedict's address to the priests, religious, and seminarians gathered at the Shrine of Aparecida in Brazil in May 2007:
The witness of a priestly life well lived brings nobility to the Church, calls forth admiration among the faithful, and is a source of blessings for the community; it is the best way to promote vocations, the most authentic invitation to other young people to respond positively to the Lord’s call. It is true collaboration in building the Kingdom of God!
At the Mass itself, Archbishop McDonald presided from the throne but did not celebrate the Mass because he is still recovering from surgery to his knee (the second such operation in a few months). He consecrated the holy oils and received the renewal of priestly commitment as well as preaching. Bishop John Hine was the principal celebrant at the Mass itself. In his homily, Archbishop McDonald said:
A true believer is someone who is at peace with the particularity, the specificity of faith, by which I mean the absolute and unique significance of the person of Jesus Christ whose death was the focal point of human history.
(Further pictures and links at the website of the Archdiocese of Southwark.)

After Mass, the group who came especially to thank the priests repaired to the three Stags for lunch. A couple of others took a slightly extended lunch break from the City to come and join us:

The children were happily ensconced in "Chaplin's Corner" with fish and chips:

Jane Teresa has also been busy affirming priests in their ministry by sending a person Easter Card to all the priests in her diocese, saying "Thank you for accepting the Lord's call to the Priesthood" and including the following quotation from St John Vianney:
What joy did the Apostles feel after the Resurrection of Our Lord, at seeing the Master whom they had loved so much! The priest must feel the same joy, at seeing Our Lord whom he holds in his hands. Great value is attached to objects which have been laid in the drinking cup of the Blessed Virgin and of the Child Jesus, at Loreto. But the fingers of the priest, that have touched the adorable Flesh of Jesus Christ, that have been plunged into the chalice which contained His Blood, into the pyx where His Body has lain, are they not still more precious? The priesthood is the love of the Heart of Jesus. When you see the priest, think of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
(See: My heart was Restless: I love priests)

These acts of love and support for priests are very touching and much appreciated by priests. We also need to remember that we must love and support those who show generosity in the vocation of marriage and the family, and those who labour in the Lord's vineyard in various other ways.
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