In celebration of the ministry of priests

priest

 

As Msgr. Pope’s blog says, tonight is the night that the Church celebrates the ministry of priesthood. It is an opportunity for us to give thanks for the blessing that so many priests have been in our lives. Many of us can think of a time when the words of a homily, or a visit with a priest in a moment of crisis or a conversation we had as we were leaving church made a huge difference in our life.

 

One Tough Job

 

Arguably the ministry of the priest is one of the hardest jobs there is. It is 24/7, the phone does ring in the middle of the night, lots of people want a piece of your time, and everyone wants excellent preaching every week. The pastor is shepherd, CEO, CFO, CIO and maybe even the IT guy. We expect excellent homilies, the perfect prayer for every occasion, and that they are at the office when we need them. We’re happiest if they like everything in the parish that we like and not like all the things we don’t like. We want them to be human “just like us” and we want them to be just like Jesus.

 

I am fortunate to be able to say that some of my most favorite people in the world are priests. It was a priest, over pizza at Domino’s who first suggested that I might have a gift for parish ministry and theology. He helped me find a theology program that was right for me and was present when I defended my dissertation. In my first job in parish ministry when I told him that I went to visit a woman in the hospital and she asked to pray the Memorare, and I had to admit I didn’t know it, he made me a palm size copy of the prayer so that it would never happen again!

 

Sharing the Love

 

I’ve studied with priests, I’ve worked with priests, I’ve taught priests and so I’ve learned a lot about what they most like. With a nod to the more famous Top Ten list, here is a Top Ten list for sharing some love with our priests.

 

10 For no good reason drop off their favorite snack or a fresh cup of coffee

9.  Before you tell them it was the wrong decision ask how they came to that    decision    

8.  Write a thank-you note

7.  Support a new initiative Father wants to try in the parish

6.  Invite Father over for dinner or to a family celebration

5.  For every criticism you have to share, share a compliment

4   Help Father be faithful to taking a day off, going on retreat and getting   away

3.  Offer to meet a need before Father needs to ask

2.  Know that they are holy and let them be human

1.  Pray often for your pastor and for all of our priests

Holy Thursday – Late Evening at the Mount of Olives

 If you have never been to the Holy Land and to the Mount of Olives and the Garden of Gethsemane here is a video that gives you an idea of what it looks like today including the Church built over the traditional site of the Agony in the Garden. Pray with Jesus this evening as he suffers a lonely agony in the garden.

A Personal Invitation to Conversations

This Lent, Archbishop Wuerl extended an invitation to those who have been away from church to come back and to attend Mass. (For more information, visit www.Maybe-it’s-God.org.)

 

Did you invite someone to Mass this Lent? Were you respectfully, or not so respectfully, declined? For some people, there may be a vast difference between not going to Mass and going to Mass. Perhaps, some are more comfortable easing into the Faith.

 

For example, why not bring a friend to Conversations beginning next Wednesday? It’s being held at Busboys and Poets, which boasts an excellent restaurant and chic lounge. The format for the evening is pure Q&A, and there will be two panelists who will discuss whatever questions the audience has. It will be a casual atmosphere yet will provide an in-depth look at some of the most controversial teachings of the Catholic faith. It may be the first step on someone’s journey back to the Church!

 

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Join the conversation. Bring your perspective and bring an open mind.
Busboys and Poets – 14th and V Streets NW
 
Doors open at 6:30pm. Q&A begins at 7:00pm
Wednesday April 15th – Science and Faith
Wednesday April 29th – Sex and Birth Control
Wednesday May 6th – Same-Sex Attraction
FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

Sponsored by the Office of Young Adult Ministry of the Archdiocese of Washington

 

For complete information on Conversations, visit our News and Events page.

Holy Thursday

TODAY IS HOLY THURSDAY, which marks the beginning of the sacred Triduum, or “three days.” Earlier today Jesus had given instructions to the disciples on how to prepare for this most holy meal, which will be his last supper. Through the day they make these preparations (cf Mt 26:17). This evening Jesus celebrates the first Mass and Last Supper with his apostles. In the Mass of the Lord’s Supper conducted at our parishes, we remember and make present that Last Supper. We are in the upper room with Jesus and the Apostles and do what they did. Through the ritual of washing the feet (Jn 13:1) of 12 parishioners, we unite in service to one another. Through our celebration of this first Mass and Holy Eucharist (Mt 26:26), we unite ourselves to Jesus and receive his Body and Blood as if for the first time. At this Eucharist, we especially thank God for his gift of the ministerial priesthood. After the Last Supper (First Mass) the apostles and Jesus made a short journey across the Kidron Valley to the Garden where he asks them to pray and he experiences his agony (cf Mt 26:30). We too will process in Church with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament to a garden (the altar of repose) which has been prepared. The liturgy ends in silence. It is an ancient custom to spend an hour before the reposed Blessed Sacrament tonight. We are with Jesus in the Garden and pray as he goes through his agony. Most of our parish churches remain open until close to midnight. It was near Midnight that Jesus was betrayed by Judas, was arrested and taken to the house of the High Priest (cf Mt. 26:47).

Retreats: The Silence of Our Hearts

The Catholic faith has a long tradition of offering retreats to clergy, religious, and lay members of the Church. Just as Jesus retreated in the desert for 40 days before beginning his public ministry, we often go on retreats to regain focus, jump-start our prayer life, or seek comfort following a hardship.

 

There are many different kinds of retreats: solitary or group retreats, thematic retreats, self-guided or directed retreats, single sex or co-ed retreats, day retreats, weekend retreats, etc. No matter what type it is, it’s a time to focus solely on our relationship with God. It often involves prayer, quiet reflection, meditation, reading spiritual books, Mass, and Eucharistic Adoration.

 

Could you take an afternoon or a weekend to separate yourself from the everyday hustle and bustle and just be with God? You might be thinking, “Sounds great, but I’m too busy.” At a retreat I went on a few years ago, I remember our director saying, “If you’re too busy to come on a retreat…you’re too busy, period.” That stuck with me.

 

When we talk about priorities, I’m reminded of the oft-quoted line: Don’t let the urgent get in the way of the important. With only 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week, sometimes spending time with our Creator doesn’t make the cut. But if making a retreat is important to you, set it at the top of your priority list.

 

The Easter Season is a wonderful, joyous, Spirit-filled time to go on a retreat. A simple Google search will bring up many Catholic retreat houses and the Archdiocese of Washington’s Catholic Standard also lists some upcoming retreats. If you’re a member of a parish, check the weekly bulletin or ask your pastor for recommendation.    

 

I leave you with this quote from Mother Teresa’s No Greater Love.

 

Silence of our eyes.

Silence of our ears.

Silence of our mouths.

Silence of our minds.

…in the silence of the heart

God will speak.

 

 

Shameless Plug: The Office of Young Adult Ministry will be offering a Half-Day Retreat for Married Young Adults on May 16th 2009. For more information, click here.

Making Holy Week Holy–Preparing Your Heart

A clean heart create for me, God: renew in me a steadfast spirit.”

 

Taken from Psalm 51, it is the prayer of repentance and sets the tone for our entry into the celebration of the Triduum(the three day celebration of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Vigil). It is a reminder that God’s grace is like a river of cleansing water. It is not too late to receive the grace of forgiveness in the sacrament of reconciliation. Your local parish probably has special times posted. The Shrine of the Immaculate Conception is offering the sacrament from 10:00 a.m-6:00 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday with four priests available. See www.nationalshrine.com. The Franciscan Friars have confessions on the hour between 9:00 and 4:00 p.m. See www.myfranciscan.org.

 

Another practice of the heart is to calculate how much money you saved if you “gave up” something for Lent. In my case that daily cappuccino adds up to about $135.00. That makes a very nice contribution to my favorite charity or the poor box at church. I read something very interesting today. The fast of the Triduum is not so much the fast of a penitent but rather the fast of anticipation—of looking forward and readying ourselves for the celebration of Easter. It made me ask myself what should change in how I fast the next couple of days. What does an anticipation fast look like?  If God is promising a steadfast spirit, what might a steadfast spirit look like for me?

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A special tradition follows the celebration of the Lord’s Supper on Thursday. It is a period of adoration inviting people to do what the disciples who were with Jesus in the garden could not do—to stay and pray with him. Can we be different and pray with our Lord? Most churches will be open until 9:00 p.m. or 10:00 p.m. Why not plan to stay? There was a practice a generation or so ago to visit seven churches on Holy Thursday evening. Why not choose two or three near you to visit?                                     

 

This blog began as part of our campaign to extend invitations to people we know who have been away from the Church to come back to Mass. If you’ve been meaning to ask someone, why not consider inviting that person to one our Holy Week services.

 

“Restore my joy in your salvation; sustain in me a willing spirit.”

 

 

 

Making Holy Week Holy-Preparing your Mind

In the Gospel from St. John that we heard at the beginning of Mass on Sunday, it is written,” His disciples did not understand this at first, but when Jesus had been glorified they remembered that these things were written about him…” (John 12:16). In the moment the disciples were not able to make sense of what Jesus was saying. Do you sometimes feel this way at Mass when you hear the readings? Do you sometimes wish you could hit a pause button and think about what you just heard?

 

The Scripture for the liturgies of the Triduum celebration are rich in imagery and meaning. Why not plan to read through them before you go to church. You can find the readings at www.usccb.org. There is another service during Holy Week called the Tenebrae. It is a celebration of Word of God that sets the perfect tone for Holy Thursday and Good Friday.

 

Tenebrae is a Latin word that means “darkness.” The service is an ancient monastic  tradition that uses darkness and light to tell the story of Jesus’ conquering the darkness of sin. The service includes the chanting of Psalms and the music of the Lamentations of Jeremiah as he wept for the children of Jerusalem. It is a gorgeous liturgy. Tenebrae services are scheduled on Wednesday evening at St. Matthew’sCathedral :

http://www.stmatthewscathedral.org/Lenten_Schedule.pdf.

or at Dominican House of Studies in North East. You can get a taste of the service by viewing the video below. Let us know what you think!

Soul-Wow Now!

Have you been to confession yet? No Lent is complete without the “Soul-Wow” power of  this mighty sacrament. Don’t get caught at Easter without it. It’s on sale now at every Catholic parish for the amazing price of $0.00