Friday, December 19, 2008

Mary Mackillop

I am reading Mary Mackillop Unveiled as part of my Advent reading. A bit of Australian history mixed with the story of Blessed Mary Mackillop.

Reading of her spiritual life, I am struck by the the strength of her friendship with Fr. Julian Woods. Fr. Woods was Mary's friend, mentor, spiritual director, confidante.

They shared correspondence. They shared jokes and made light fun of each other.

Fr Woods wrote to Mary ~ " I think I have told you about 100 times that if I have much to do and cannot write, you mustn't think that I am in a huff. I think also I have said, say half as many times, that if I should be offended with you, I should tell you so without loss of timee...Think of me up to my knees in unopened letters, up to my elbows in ink, up to my eyebrows in postage stamps - obliterated of course - and out of my wits trying to understand where I am, who I am, and how I am to satisfy all. But an end must come. Who knows but I shall be found lifeless at my desk with an epitaph just finished - he answered his letters, the mail is now closed"..Thinking that Mary may take his letter too seriously he finished "I give
you leave to read this to your sister Maggie, for perhaps you may misunderstand and she will laugh

Reading this letter, makes the Saint seem more real.

And I am reminded of the strong connection between many Saints, many holy people, and priests, as spiritual directors and as friends.

Margarita Tuchkova , a holy woman of the Borodino community in Russia, who built a memorial church, a women's community, and a flourishing monastery ~ with the encouragment of her priest, friend and mentor.

St Elizabeth of Hungary and Conrad of Marburg.

St Peter of Alcantara and St Teresa of Avila.

Many, many others.

We are lucky to have our priests in our Church. Their role is important and yet can easily be taken for granted.

Why must there be a Catholic priesthood for the survival of the Catholic Church? Listen. In the times of convolution over the past centuries notably in the sixteenth century the Catholic Church disappeared where the necessity of the Catholic Priesthood was denied. There is no Catholic Church without the priesthood instituted by Christ.
To understand this necessity is to have laid the foundations for a correct appreciation of the Church’s ordained priesthood. We may think well of – we may respect – what is useful but we prize we hold onto with all the force of our being with what we think is necessary. We hold onto with our life's blood what is necessary and the priesthood is necessary for the life's blood of the Church. There is no Catholic Church – underline, encircle, emblazon the word, “NO” – there is no Catholic Church without the priesthood. It is the faith realization of the absolute necessity of the Priesthood that justifies the place, the dignity of the priest in Roman Catholicism. And why the people who may be both torn between their faith and their experience, will respect, honor a priest no matter how humanly speaking, how dishonorable he may become.
It is this necessity that justifies the deep concern of the Church at large and of the faithful for having holy priests because then their sanctity is the visible expression of their necessity. It justifies the conviction of the necessity of the priesthood. Justifies the crusade of prayers and sacrifices by religious and the faithful for priests, for the conversion of priests who have strayed away, and for their continued and ever growing sanctification.

Fr. John Hardon ~ The Necessity of the Catholic Priesthood.

What makes a priest different or special? Fr. Hardon goes on to say ~

There are people who are more intelligent than priests – I know I have taught too many priests and lay people too. There are people who are holier than priests, there are people who are better qualified as leaders, leaders in society than priests. But that is not the issue,.... having a long conversation with the Lutheran Chaplain while teaching at the state university – we knew each other well. He had his doctorate in theology like I had mine. We talked over a period of months on what is or is there any difference between an ordained minister like himself and a Catholic priest.....Do you know what the word ontological means? He said sure, ontological has to do with (ontos) the Greek word for being. When you were ordained as you say to the Lutheran ministry were you ontologically different than you were before? He said no! Well, I did!

There is a change in being, a change in ontos, and in its own way as different a change in being as a child before being baptized and then is baptized. It is just not the same person.

Now what is it that the sacrament orders confers on the priest that gives the priest the power to do and changes him not only in time but as faith tells us into eternity?
A priest receives the power of offering the sacrifice of the Mass. A priest receives the power to forgive sins. The priest receives the power of exercising authority in Christ's name.
So, if we recognise the importance of priests in our Church, how should we then act? Act towards these priests, those in our local parish, for example? How should we treat all religious?

Well, we should treat everyone with respect. Adults, children, priests, religious, old, young...

In particular, we should treat our priests and religious with extra courtesy.


I will paraphrase some of Fr. Hardon's suggestions.
*Promote vocations .
*Pray, pray for priests and religious.
*Sacrifice for priests. A priest is one who is to sacrifice. The hard part of the priesthood is not the offering of the sacrifice of the Mass. It is the self-sacrifice that a priest is called upon to make and the more priestly a priest is the more the people of God will use him, will wear him out. Priests need the merits of our sacrifices.
*Assist priests.Help, assist, provide services. Help your parish.
*Encourage priests and religious. Our parish women's group has committed to pray daily for the friars in our parish and we hope to encourage them in their vocation by our talk and by our deeds.Don't you love it when someone notices something you have done, gives you a gift or says something nice, helps you when you need it or when you are feeling less than happy? How nice to do that for others..

Definitely. Something for us to think about as Christmas approaches.


Anonymous said...

Leonie,thank you for your prayers and support. May the Infant Saviour of Bethlehem bless You and your Family. God bless-br louis

Leonie said...

Thank you, Br! :-)

Greg said...

Good points to think about there. As you say we should treat everybody well. But it's easy to forget the extra work priests and religious put in (Xmas is hardly a holiday for one thing!).
Although I feel compelled to correct Fr Hardon's Greek - 'ontos' is the genitive of the participle for the verb to be; he should have used the form 'onton'...At least so says my own fallible knowledge...

Anonymous said...

I am very encouraged by your blog entry... to thank you for all you and your family do for me personally and for all the friars seems so little... there is much merit in sacrifice. Let us continue to do it ad invicem (as we say in Latin)!FrB

Leonie said...

lol Greg - thank God you are not correcting me! Poor Fr. Hardon..

And, Fr, thanks. Very true re merits of sacrifice.

Anonymous said...

That biography of Mary MacKillop is great!

Leonie said...

Hi Louise! Yes, I've enjoyed the book - esp since I've been to many of the places in SA that are mentioned in the book...As have you, of course!