"You are a priest forever"
Whether it was due to our priest convocation earlier this month, or Pope Francis' countless pastoral talks with the world's priests, or the gift of our many parish seminarians, it seems I am bombarded with the need to reflect upon what it really means to be a priest. When I spoke with a seminarian from Ireland this past week, he reminded me of the tragedy that has hit upon the very heart of their priesthood, abuse and scandal even greater than we have known. I asked him "why"/"how" does one go on with formation when things are so devastating? With a faithful resolve he responded, "because there are the poor and so many who need to know Jesus' love through His priest...God willing, how could I not?" He instantly reminded me of why I entered the seminary and love what I do as "priest." Saint John Paul II said, "the measure of success of the priest is love: not the priest's love of God, but his love for God's people." It has always been about love, no matter how many times we have blown it or sacrificially lived it in His name. It is this very desire to be loved by God so profoundly that we, as ordained priests, must never cease to seek what it means to be His love in the lives of those we are blessed to serve. Even though God knows there are no two of us alike, there are some essentials that must be in a priest. I see within the discerning hearts of our seminarians aspects of ordained priesthood already there and waiting to be formed in His love just to freely give to anyone they meet: From Matthew Jordan's eagerness to bring healing to the hurting, David Stavarz's disciplined desire to wed wisdom with mercy, to Alexander Clark's genuine and authentic ability to always love, to Luke McNeill's joy-filled spirit to save, to Ryan Arto's earnest hunger to pray and hope, to Chris Dougherty's gift of simplicity and to realize God in the midst of everyday moments of life. Yes, it is about the: Healing, Merciful Wisdom, Authentic Love, Saving Joy, Prayer Hope, and Faithfully Living Today in the Sacrament of the Moment. As we celebrate Priesthood Sunday, pray for your priests, past, present and those discerning a future calling as priest (in a special way our seminarian intern, John). Remember their parents and families who sacrifice in more ways than you know. Thank you for making Fr. Thomas and me the happiest priests in the diocese!
Pax, Fr. Bline (sacerdos in aeternum sum)