Sunday, March 31, 2019


Miguel Jeronimo Zendejas

O my beloved Jesus,
I bring Thee the poverty of Thy priests, that Thou wouldst enrich them.
I bring Thee the emptiness of Thy priests, that Thou wouldst fill them.
I bring Thee the coldness of Thy priests, that Thou wouldst warm them.
I bring Thee the loneliness of Thy priests, that Thou wouldst embrace them.
I bring Thee the sorrows of Thy priests, that Thou wouldst console them.
I bring Thee the illnesses of Thy priests, that Thou wouldst heal them.
I bring Thee the impurities of Thy priests, that Thou wouldst wash them clean.
I bring Thee the nakedness of Thy priests, that Thou wouldst clothe them.
I bring Thee the silence of Thy priests, that Thou wouldst speak to them.
I bring Thee the brokenness of Thy priests, that Thou wouldst repair them.
I bring Thee the infirmities of Thy priests, that Thou wouldst heal them.
I bring Thee the nothingness of Thy priests that Thou wouldst be their all.
I bring Thee the darkness of Thy priests, that Thou wouldst illuminate them,
I bring Thee the bitterness of Thy priests, that Thou wouldst give them to taste of                                                Thy sweetness.
I bring Thee the struggles of Thy priests, that Thou wouldst be victorious in them.
I give Thee the blindness of Thy priests that Thou wouldst give them clear vision.
I bring Thee the weariness of Thy priests that Thou wouldst be their rest.
I bring Thee the thirst of Thy priests that Thou wouldst quench it.
I bring Thee the fears of Thy priests that Thou wouldst give them confidence.
I give thee Thee the doubts of Thy priests that Thou wouldst strengthen their faith.
I bring Thee the despondency of Thy priests that Thou wouldst infuse them with                                                  hope.
I bring Thee the sadness of Thy priests that Thou wouldst be their joy.
I bring Thee all Thy priests, especially those in their last agony, those who are locked in 

spiritual combat, and those being tempted to sin against faith and against hope.
I bring Thee the death of Thy priests that Thou wouldst be their life eternal.
I bring Thee all those priest of Thine for whom Thy presence in the Most Holy Sacrament  
has  become a  matter of indifference, of routine, and of neglect.

Beloved Lord Jesus, have mercy on those priests of Thine whose minds have grown dark, whose hearts have grown cold, and who have succumbed to the enticements of the world, the weariness of the flesh, and the deceits of the devil. Deliver them all, O Jesus, for they are Thine, and Thou wilt not deny Thine own.

                                                                            Prayer from Silverstream Priory (Meath, Ireland)

Thursday, March 28, 2019


I would like to address myself to the subject of the value of prayer and sacrifice for priests – the value of prayer and sacrifice for priests. If there was ever a need to pray and sacrifice for priests for their preservation and sanctity it is today. It is not exaggeration to say that the Catholic priesthood in countries like our own is going through the most difficult ordeal in the Church's history. That is no exaggeration. 

Norman Rockwell, 1943

Today, perhaps more than ever, priests need our prayers. Many churches are close to empty; priests are mocked and ridiculed by the media and by countless individuals; many Catholics dissent from the Church’s teaching; and there is a tidal wave of liberal theology and modernism that has infiltrated our seminaries. These are just some of the difficulties facing priests today.

Priests have a sublime vocation. They are called to be “other Christs” in a very special way. Without them, there would be no Sacraments, which are for the faithful, a perpetual source of grace, hope and sanctity.

                                                                       (written  40 years ago  by John Harden, SJ)

Monday, March 25, 2019


“Priests have no choice. The psychological pressure from the world, the flesh and the devil is too strong to cope with by themselves. The Holy Eucharist must remain, if it already is, or become, if it is not, the mainstay of their priestly lives. This is no option. It is a law of spiritual survival in every age, and with thunderous emphasis, for Catholic priests in our day.

 No doubt the Eucharistic faith and devotion of priests are crucially important in the priestly apostolate. “Like priest, like people” is a truism of the Church’s history. But “like Eucharist, like priest” is also a sobering fact of the Church’s biography.

Priests are as selfless and chaste, as sacrificing and humble, as their lives are centered on the Eucharist. The daily and devout offering of Mass, the daily Holy Hour and frequent Benediction, the frequent visits to the Blessed Sacrament – these are not superficial priestly devotions. They are expressions of a profound love for Jesus Christ, now living and offering Himself for our sanctification on earth on our way to eternity...

   I make bold to say that the single most important need for Catholic priests is a renewed faith in the Holy Eucharist…  Would anyone doubt that in our nation in the last decade of the twentieth century, we need an avalanche of moral miracles to protect the priesthood and the priestly apostolate from the demonic forces let loose in our country today?

Only God can work a miracle, and we need to change the figure - an ocean of miracles in America, and in Canada, as in England, France, Germany, and Scandinavia, to mention just a few materially wealthy countries that are in desperate need of divine grace where so many are walking in darkness and the shadow of eternal death.
Jesus Christ is the infinite God Who became man. He became man not only to die for us on Calvary. He became man to live with us in the Holy Eucharist.

His divine power is accessible in the Holy Eucharist to those, beginning with priests, who have the humility to believe.                                            
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Father John Harden, SJ

Friday, March 22, 2019


“What then is the greatest single need in the priesthood today? It is holiness. What the Church and the world mainly need is holy priests. The next question is the hard one: How are priests to become holy? They are to become holy through the Eucharist. In other words, there is no holiness without the Eucharist.

What the Church most needs in modern times is priests who have not been seduced by the ways of the world but have remained firm in their faith as ambassadors of Christ, chosen by Him to dispense the mysteries of salvation until the end of time. Only holy priests will not be seduced by the devil, who is the prince of this world. Jesus Christ in the Eucharist is the only one who can make priests truly holy.

Artist Svitozar Nenyuk

Holy priests will sanctify the faithful. One of the glories of the Second Vatican Council was its outspoken insistence not only that holiness is a realistic goal, but that this is our special vocation as Christians. “All of Christ’s faithful,” we are told, “no matter what their rank or station, have a vocation to the fullness of the Christian life and the perfection of charity.” In a word, we have all been called to become saints. But the sanctification of the world depends on the sanctity of Catholic bishops and priests. In God’s providence, we are to be the principal channels of holiness to the world in which we live.

There can be no ordinary Catholic priests today, not with the revolution through which society is passing and the convulsion in the Church on every level. The Church today needs strong Catholic priests, wise Catholic priests, priests who are not swayed by public opinion or afraid to stand up for the truth. She needs priests who are willing to suffer for their convictions and, if need be, shed their blood for the faith...

Where, we ask, can they obtain this strength and wisdom, this patience and conviction and this loyal love of God that is faithful unto death? They can obtain it from the one who said, “Have courage, I have overcome the world.” He is not two thousand years away, or absent from the earth in a distant heaven that cannot be spanned. No, He is right here in the Eucharist. And He wants nothing more than that we also be with Him as much as we can. If we are, and the more we are – as the great Eucharistic saints tell us – He will not only make us holy, but He will use us priests as He used the Apostles, who, when He first made the promise of the Eucharist, did not walk away. He will use us as channels of His grace even to the ends of the earth and until the end of time.”
                                                                                                               Father John Harden, SJ,  1979

Monday, March 18, 2019


In the late 1970s  Servant of God John A. Harden , SJ  (See Blog. 1/ 30 / 2018)  gave a homily at the Vatican entitled  The Holy Eucharist and Holiness in Priests”, which fits where we are in the Church today, 40 years later.

“No one familiar with the present age has any doubt that the Church has been going through a grave crisis for over a century. Some consider it the gravest in the Church’s history and certainly its impact on the Church and her institutions has been drastic in the extreme…

Among the Church’s institutions, the priesthood has been especially vulnerable. This may be partly explained by the fact that priests are the Church’s divinely established leaders of faith and morals, but mainly by the strategy of the evil spirit, who could be expected to intrude himself into the ranks of Christ’s chosen ones. For even as the Church’s greatest pride is in the sanctity of her ordained bishops and priests who lead the people of God in the paths of holiness, so they have been the Church’s greatest sorrow when they abandoned their high calling and turned their backs on the Savior who ordained them.

The modern popes have been eloquent in stressing the grave need of a strong priesthood to resist the pressure against the faith in our times. Leo XIII and Pius X, Benedict XV and Pius XI, Pius XII and John XXIII have pleaded time and again with bishops and priests to resist the seductions of a godless world and remain firm in their loyalty to Christ and His Church. No one could be clearer than Paul VI when, on the occasion of ordaining ten priests to the episcopate, he urged them to remain constant in their faith. “It is the gift of Christ to His Church,” he said. “It is the virtue that the Church needs today, assailed as she is by so many forces that aim at defeating her, indeed weakening and destroying her firmness in faith.” It is faith, he told the newly ordained prelates, “that must protect us from our inner weakness and against the growing confusion of ideas of our world.”

Saturday, March 16, 2019


In May of 2010 Pope Benedict XVI dedicated himself and all priests to  the Blessed Mother, Mother of all priests, at Fatima.  Here in part is his prayer which we pray especially at this time:

Our Lady of Ransom ( Francisco de Zubaran- Spain 1629)

Bride of the Holy Spirit, obtain for us the inestimable gift of transformation in Christ. Through the same power of the Spirit that overshadowed you, making you the Mother of the Savior, help us to bring Christ your Son to birth in ourselves too. May the Church be thus renewed by priests who are holy, priests transfigured by the grace of Him who makes all things new.

Mother of Mercy, it was your Son Jesus who called us to become like Him: light of the world and salt of the earth.

Help us, through your powerful intercession, never to fall short of this sublime vocation, nor to give way to our selfishness, to the allurements of the world and to the wiles of the Evil One.

Preserve us with your purity, guard us with your humility and enfold us with your maternal love that is reflected in so many souls consecrated to you, who have become for us true spiritual mothers.

Mother of the Church, we priests want to be pastors who do not feed themselves but rather give themselves to God for their brethren, finding their happiness in this. Not only with words, but with our lives, we want to repeat humbly, day after day, our “here I am.”

Guided by you, we want to be Apostles of Divine Mercy, glad to celebrate every day the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar and to offer to those who request it the sacrament of Reconciliation.

Advocate and Mediatrix of grace, you who are fully immersed in the one universal mediation of Christ, invoke upon us, from God, a heart completely renewed that loves God with all its strength and serves mankind as you did…

Mother of Mercy
Our Mother for all time, do not tire of “visiting us”, consoling us, sustaining us.  Come to our aid and deliver us from every danger that threatens us.  With this act of entrustment and consecration, we wish to welcome you more deeply, more radically, for ever and totally into our human and priestly lives.

Let your presence cause new blooms to burst forth in the desert of our loneliness, let it cause the sun to shine on our darkness, let it restore calm after the tempest, so that all mankind shall see the salvation of the Lord, who has the name and the face of Jesus, who is reflected in our hearts, for ever united to yours!  Amen

Thursday, March 14, 2019


This past week we had a special “guest” in Seattle, as the  relic of St. Jean Vianney’s incorrupt heart was given for veneration. The Shrine of Ars, France, entrusted to the Knights of Columbus the relic for a national tour in the U.S., from November 2018 through early June 2019.

St. John, also known as the Cure of Ars,  whose holiness and integrity is a model for clergy and laity alike, is the special patron of parish priests. Those of us who grew up Catholic, in the years when we studied the saints, knew well  the story of this holy priest and prayed to him for our own parish priests.

He was the first to experience the Divine Mercy,  which he then brought to countless others as he heard confessions up to 18 hours a day. People from all over Europe streamed to his confessional in Ars to “experience the love and mercy of God.”

His is a great story  and example of faith and perseverance in seemingly difficult odds.  He was so slow to learn and no one thought he would ever be ordained, but the Holy Spirit had other ideas. He wound up being known by all who encountered him for his sanctity, cheerfulness and mercy.

In his 1986 Holy Thursday Letter to Priests, Pope  St. John Paul II wrote:
The Mass was for John Mary Vianney the great joy and comfort of his priestly life. He took great care, despite the crowds of penitents, to spend more than a quarter of an hour in silent preparation. He celebrated with recollection, clearly expressing his adoration at the consecration and communion. He accurately remarked: “The cause of priestly laxity is not paying attention to the Mass!”
The Icon which accompanies his heart

The Curé of Ars was particularly mindful of the permanence of Christ’s real presence in the Eucharist. It was generally before the tabernacle that he spent long hours in adoration, before daybreak or in the evening; it was towards the tabernacle that he often turned during his homilies, saying with emotion: “He is there!”

Dear brother priests, the example of the Curé of Ars invites us to a serious examination of conscience: what place do we give to the Mass in our daily lives? Is it, as on the day of our Ordination - it was our first act as priests! - the principle of our apostolic work and personal sanctification? What care do we take in preparing for it? And in celebrating it? In praying before the Blessed Sacrament? In encouraging our faithful people to do the same? In making our churches the House of God to which the divine presence attracts the people of our time who too often have the impression of a  world empty of God.

As Catholics today struggle to find meaning in the crises with priests in the Church, I would recommend reading about this holy priest, who himself lived through turbulent times in  France and in the Church, yet in his humility and holiness, he gave comfort to many thousands of souls.

St. John Vianney certainly gives the example of what the heart of a priest should be!. The significance and beauty of his life is to be found in his simple witness of being a faithful and loving parish priest who had a deep love of the Eucharist.

Monday, March 11, 2019


Each Lent in the monastery we take a theme for the focus of our prayer and this year it  is for our 2 Holy Fathers and the priesthood -  for priests in dire need and those who are following in the footsteps of holiness.  I also especially pray for those who have given their lives in prayer for the needs of priests, be they other religious or  laypeople.

In spite of the great scandal in our present Church regarding priests, there are many more who daily struggle to be  faithful witnesses proclaiming the Presence of Jesus through preaching the Gospel, praying the Mass, administering the sacraments and  being true shepherds to their flock.

Emmanuel Cardinal Suhard, who served as Archbishop of Paris
in the post-war years, expressed this mystery of the priesthood in a pastoral letter that he wrote on Holy Thursday 1949:

At the altar, the priest, like Christ, is the [sacrificial] victim. But he is also the sacrificer; he is then the dreadful man, the one who works death, the one who slays sin and burns it, the one who is crucified and who crucifies, the one who cannot save the world, nor will consent to its salvation, save through nailing it to the Cross.

“Without the shedding of blood there is no redemption” (Heb. 9.22)… That is why the priest in relation to society must always be somehow or other its adversary. He will never be forgiven for recalling and perpetuating, from  generation to generation, Christ, whom they thought they had suppressed forever… Far from being a fatherly adviser or a good-natured citizen, a priest is, like God, a terrible being. He is a fighting man… Like Saint Michael, he challenges the Dragon, dragging him out of ambush by healing men’s hearts,  so as to crush one by one his ever resurgent heads. Although it is too frequently overlooked, a priest is an exorcist…; he has the power and the duty of expelling the Devil (Cardinal Suhard, Priests Among Men).

Wednesday, March 6, 2019


Today we begin, with Ash Wednesday, our trek into Lent as we plod along, hopefully with Jesus, towards His final days on earth and the glorious Resurrection.   

Trek you ask?  Plod?  According to the dictionary (yes, some of us still use them) a trek is a trip or movement especially when involving difficulties or complex organization : an arduous journey.   To plod is to trudge, walk heavily, drag oneself, lumber or slog. Slog?  Where is she getting these words, you may ask?  Not often used?   Slog,  when used as a noun, is a spell of difficult, tiring work or traveling.  I am sure by now you get the point.

This season is not meant to be a rapid, easy  trip, but rather one that is slow, difficult and full of negation - not giving up easy things, like sugar and TV programs, but rather a death to our old, bad habits. It is a time to look to  the Gospels for Jesus’ example how we should live our lives, with prayer, inner joy, and kindness, thanking God for the many graces we daily receive. In the words of St. Benedict only then can we look forward to holy Easter with joy and spiritual longing.

In the words of Pope Emeritus Benedict: We begin today the liturgical season of Lent with the thought-provoking rite of the imposition of ashes, through which we wish to take on the commitment to convert our hearts to the horizons of grace. In general, in common opinion, this time runs the risk of being marked by sadness, by the darkness of life. Instead, it is a precious gift of God; it is an intense time full of meanings in the journey of the Church; it is the itinerary to the Lord’s Easter...

It is important to remember that even Jesus did not run to the top of Calvary with His Cross. It was  a slow trek!  And He fell along the way, sometimes rising only with the help of another. May His Blessed Mother be there for us as we slog along in the steps of her Son!

Tuesday, March 5, 2019


Praying Nuns Singing-  (c.1400
Because our prayer in the monastery is centered on the Gregorian Chant, we are especially sensitive to the cacophony which is often common in parishes today.  Personally I would rather have a choir which does all the music than the free for all which occurs.    Pope Francis has lamented “a certain mediocrity, superficiality and banality” in liturgical celebrations that acts to the detriment of their “beauty and intensity.”  And I would add to the detriment of one’s prayer.  It is hard to lift ones’ eyes to the Lord, when the person next to you or behind you is singing full throttle, missing every note in the book!

In January Archbishop Alexander Sample of Portland, Oregon issued a pastoral letter, “Sing to the Lord a New Song”, which proclaimed that sacred music has a special role in the Catholic liturgy.  There are “serious challenges in our own day” for efforts to seek to renew the liturgy “in a way that respects, fosters and promotes the true nature of the Mass itself.”

“We should always aim high to offer God the best and the most beautiful music of which we are capable,” Archbishop Sample said. Mass requires an “art of celebrating” in which perhaps nothing is more important than the place of sacred music.

Gregorian chant should enjoy a “pride of place” in the Roman liturgy, according to the Second Vatican Council, and the faithful should be led to sing in Gregorian chant as far as is proper as a way to participate in the liturgy.

Alleluia- Thomas Cooper Gotches (England d.  1931)

The Archbishop acknowledged that Gregorian chant does not presently enjoy pride of place; it is rarely if ever heard. He said this situation must be addressed with “great effort and serious catechesis” to help it more widely become a normal part of the Mass.

Sacred music has a twofold purpose: “the glory of God and the sanctification of the faithful.”  Because sacred music is so essential, Catholics must reject the common idea that four songs can be chosen and “tacked on.” Sacred music’s role is “to help us sing and pray the texts of the Mass itself, not just ornament it.”

St. Cecilia (Little Wymondley, England
The Archbishop’s pastoral letter traces teachings about sacred music from various popes and councils of the Church.  Citing a sermon of St. Augustine, he said, “the new man sings a new song. Singing is an expression of joy and, if we consider the matter, an expression of love.” Pope Benedict XVI said that the Church has created, and still creates “music and songs which represent a rich patrimony of faith and love.” This heritage “must not be lost.”

 The Archbishop explained that universality in music means “any composition of sacred music, even one which reflects the unique culture of a particular region, would still be easily recognized as having a sacred character.” Holiness is “a universal principle that transcends culture.”

There is a lack of understanding and confusion about what music is proper to Mass, the archbishop said, adding, “not every form or style of music is capable of being rendered suitable.” A Gloria set in a polka beat or in a rock music style is not sacred music, because these styles, however delightful in a dance hall or concert setting, do not have the qualities of sanctity, beauty and universality proper to sacred music.

Archbishop Sample entrusted the effort to improve sacred music to St. Cecilia, the patroness of church musicians, and the Blessed Virgin Mary, Immaculately Conceived.

“May the renewal and reform of sacred music in the Archdiocese of Portland lead us together to a beautiful and worthy celebration of the sacred mysteries of the Holy Mass, for the glory of God and the sanctification of all the faithful.”

Saturday, March 2, 2019


It isn’t often that I deal with Church politics in this Blog, but the recently released 8 points that came out of the Bishops' meetings last week in Rome regarding the sex scandal in our Church left me baffled.  I felt they did not get to the heart of the problem and what we are going to do regarding priestly formation.  Then came this article about Bishop Thomas Olmsted’s view of the crises.  After I read it I felt he must have read In Sinu Jesu (see Blog Mar. 2017).

In face of the sex abuse scandals in the Church, Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix issued a column this month asking the question: “What went wrong in priestly formation?”

Bishop Thomas Olmsted highlighted in his Feb. 17 column at The Catholic Sun three factors that contributed to the clerical sexual abuse scandal: the sexual revolution, weak seminaries, and clericalism.

He said the sexual revolution, which in the 1960s challenged the ethics of sexual behaviors in the West, had sought to promote a false idea of “free love.” With the surge of an overly sexualized culture, he said, the movement created long-lasting problems.  

“This revolution promised ‘free love,’ happiness and liberation from purported encumbrances of religion and tradition, particularly the Commandments,” he said.
“Sadly, the over-focus on sexual pleasure, the reducing and labeling of persons to their attractions (LGBTQ, etc.) and the viewing of persons as objects for pleasure have led to unprecedented numbers of infidelity, divorce, loneliness and abuse in the greater culture.”

He said the crisis was worsened by inadequate responses from the Church, citing silence and “harsh moralizing.” This only strangled the message of God’s love and distorted a full understanding of the human person, he said.

However, the bishop said there were also appropriate responses, including St. John Paul II's Theology of the Body. He said this answer promoted a greater comprehension of true love alongside responsibility.
“Related to the general confusion about human love caused by the sexual revolution, we also suffered from an insufficient understanding of priestly celibacy,” Bishop Olmsted noted, adding that Pope Francis has affirmed the value of celibacy for the priesthood.

“Indeed, in a world that believes that sexual pleasures must have free reign, even at the cost of innocent unborn children, there is need for those men and women who proclaim by their lives that ultimate love and fulfillment come from God and that self-mastery is certainly possible with God’s grace. Chaste celibacy, received as a gift of God and formed through spiritual and human direction, is a needed response to a false idea of 'free love.'”

Amid the confusion caused by the sexual revolution “Church leaders failed to adequately screen applicants” to seminary, he said. “It was often assumed that the human and the spiritual qualities of the man were present and sufficient. This was a poor assumption, and it led to too little consideration of a man’s human virtues and of his relationship with Jesus Christ. As a result, some candidates unfit for ministry were accepted.”

Dissent from orthodoxy was present in many seminaries in the 1970s and '80s, he said, especially regarding sexual ethics.
“For example, the masculine spousal dimension in which a priest is called to love as Christ loved His Bride the Church (Cf. Eph 5) was not taught much at all. As a result, the priesthood was too frequently seen, not as a life of masculine love, but merely pertaining to certain ministerial functions. It was erroneously thought among some that the nature of the priesthood itself would change.”
Bishop Olmsted added that “some seminaries became places with not only men who lacked a true calling from Jesus to the priesthood but even where a homosexual subculture sprang up.”

“It is difficult to deny this problem considering the high percentage of abuse cases that occurred between men and post-pubescent boys.”
“On several occasions, our Holy Father has stated that clericalism played a part in the current scandals as priests and bishops sought to cover up abuses,” the bishop noted. He added that “disproportionate esteem for priests by the faithful, at times, was (and still can be) problematic.”
He said the priest, like any man, is a sinner in need of redemption, but the state is one of service.

“One should enter the priesthood through a calling from Jesus to share in His mission. That mission is to proclaim Christ Crucified and Risen from the dead,” he recalled.
“Especially in this country, Church leaders have been slow to embrace this mission and settled for simply maintaining her membership rather than boldly evangelizing the culture.”

The bishop noted that “instead of being Catholic out of conviction and a deep relationship with Jesus, the faith has become for too many something merely cultural,” and he recalled Archbishop José Gomez' statement that Christ “did not come to suffer and die so that He could make ‘cultural Catholics'”.
“Cultural Catholicism”, Bishop Olmsted said, “lacks true conviction to follow Jesus when His teachings differ from ways of the culture.”
He said that many of the concerns in priestly formation “are now being addressed well,” and recalled that St. John Paul II was “convinced that the answer to these scandals is great fidelity.”

“Like other times of storms in the Church, Jesus continues to renew His Mystical Body through holiness,” Bishop Olmsted concluded. “You and I are called to be saints.”