Dear Friends in Christ:
Next Saturday, June 1, we will not have morning confessions. The reason is a wonderful one. Next Saturday Fr. Clark and I will be at the Co-Cathedral for the ordination of seven new priests for our archdiocese, two of whom are from St. John Vianney Parish! Yes, next week Rick Arriola and Justin Cormie of our parish will be ordained to the priesthood of Jesus Christ! Along with five of their classmates, they will begin a new and wonderful life of service to Christ and his church.
Beginning next Saturday, Frs. Justin and Rick and their classmates will begin to know a new life of grace, mystery, sorrow and joy. They will experience the greatness and power of God’s love and they will experience a new sense of unworthiness. They will see in ways they have never seen before the presence of God in their own lives and in the lives of the people he loves. These new priests will experience again and again the joy of baptizing and making new Christians, the thrill of leading others to Christ in their preaching and teaching, the tenderness of forgiving sin in the confessional, the consolation of anointing the ill and the dying. They will share the joy of couples on their wedding day and most of all, the presence of Christ in the Eucharist. They will experience in ways they have never imagined or were taught in the seminary, the anguish and pain that sin causes. As they live each day as a priest, they will be amazed and comforted by the marvels of God and the power of faith, hope and love. They will encounter living saints and women and men of indescribable courage, hope and faith. They will also have their own faith tested as they see how weak and limited they truly are. They will receive praise, accolades and honors and they will be held in high esteem for things they had little or nothing to do with. They will also be reviled, scorned, condemned and treated unjustly for simply being true to Christ and the Catholic Church. They will know that because of the sins of others they will be looked at suspiciously, mocked and discredited by people who do not even know them. Likewise, their own human weakness, character flaws and imperfections will be used as clubs to attack and beat the entire church and the faith. In time, they will come to know anew the sublime beauty of faith and trust in the Lord. They will experience immense joy in prayer and also moments of extreme spiritual loneliness and numbness. They will be energized in serving people and also fatigued. There will be moments in their priesthood when it will seem like they are filled with the Holy Spirit and also times when they will feel totally empty and drained and they will have to struggle and fight to avoid the temptation to just go through the motions. They will experience like all people, success and failure. They will know the sublime glory and majesty of God in creation, in the Church and in people’s lives. They will also know all too well the pettiness and dysfunction that can affect all people. In time, they will experience the consolation and joy of Jesus’ words “It was not you who chose me, it was I who chose you!” (Jn 15.16)
The priesthood is a wonderful, beautiful life.
God does not choose perfect human beings to serve other perfect human beings. As the Letter to the Hebrews states, “Every high priest is taken from among men and made their representative before God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal patiently with the ignorant and erring for he himself is beset by weakness and so for this reason must make sin offerings for himself as well as for the people. No one takes this honor upon himself but is called by God.” (Hb 5:1-4)
Please pray for Fathers Rick and Justin and all of our new priests. Pray in thanksgiving that God continues to answer our prayers for priestly vocations and ask for many more vocations from our archdiocese and our parish and in your great charity please pray for me, Fr. Clark, Fr. Chuck and all of our priests.
In pace Christi,
Fr. Troy Gately