Monday, 11 July 2011

A little on the priesthood

As Henry has already written, Father Pádraig is now happily the newest member of the presbyterate of our diocese. 
It is always a great joy to attend an ordination, and all the remaining East Anglia seminarians assisted in some way on the sanctuary, reading, serving and singing, along with a Birmingham seminarian, Craig. East Anglia now has only 3 seminarians, a rump of our former number. We can all pray that many more men will have the courage to listen to the Lord’s calling, and offer themselves for formation, not only for our own Church, but for other dioceses and orders. As the Church has gained a new priest, the seminary has lost a brother. We must rejoice the new priests Christ has won for his Church these past two years (Frs Pádraig, Luke and Michael), and pray that the grace and inspiration young men may have received at this time will be brought to fruition. 

It was a great privilege to assist Fr Pádraig’s first celebration of Mass in his home parish of St Philip Howard, Cambridge. The small contingent from Oscott were warmly welcomed by Monsignor Harkness and the parish, which put on a generously-portioned and deliciously-tasting feast, as well as a spectacular and occasionally outrageous variety performance. Mgr Harkness thanked the seminarians who had come to the parish, who always provide an incomparable witness and encouragement, simply by their presence. 
The Gospel of that Sunday was the parable of the sower. All priests, are called to partake in the life and ministry of Christ, the Sower, and the Church entrusts to them wonderful and powerful words to sow in the world today, as Fr McNally from Oscott reminded us in his homily.
The cosmic liturgy expresses our love of and dependence upon the Lord, and His love of and faithfulness to His people. The sacramental liturgy, then, signifies outwardly most fully our inward faith in this reality. And, so, let the liturgy speak for itself, here, in the preface for priesthood: 
[Father], by your Holy Spirit you anointed your only Son High Priest of the new and eternal covenant. With wisdom and love you have planned that this one priesthood should continue in the Church. Christ gives the dignity of a royal priesthood to the people he has made his own. From these, with a brother's love, he chooses men to share his sacred ministry by the laying on of hands. He appoints them to renew in his name the sacrifice of our redemption as they set before your family his paschal meal. He calls them to lead your holy people in love, nourish them by your word, and strengthen them through the sacraments. Father, they are to give their lives in your service and for the salvation of your people as they strive to grow in likeness of Christ and honour you by their courageous witness of faith and love.

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