Dear St. Martin’s Parishioners,
On Saturday, June 18 ten men were ordained priests for the Archdiocese of Washington. I’d like to take the opportunity to reflect on the gift of the priesthood, for which I am eternally grateful. In his perfect wisdom and providential love for his people, God calls some men to make a radical response of faith by becoming the heart of Christ in the world. St. John Vianney said that “the priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus.”
For a priest to love the heart of Jesus, he must be a man of prayer. On the night of the the Last Supper, St. John rested his head upon Jesus’ breast. This is a posture the priest must imitate daily, drawing as close as possible to Jesus’ Sacred Heart. Only from that place can he then teach his people to pray. St. John Henry Newman said that prayer is “heart speaking to heart.” We open our hearts to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and he shares the infinite riches of his Sacred Heart with us. Pope St. John Paul II said, “open wide the doors for Christ.” As Christians we are first and foremost in relationship with Christ. In order for this relationship to grow, the doors of our hearts must open widely to his own.
Priests must have the regular experience of the disciples on the road to Emmaus. Those disciples had the privilege of Christ opening the Scriptures to them, explaining how all of Scripture ultimately points to his passion, death and resurrection. Those disciples remarked, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures” (Lk. 24:32). The priest must take the graces he has received from his own scriptural meditation and share it with his people. Jesus desires for all of our hearts to burn within us as we understand the scriptures, and come to know and love Christ through them.
Lastly, priests are called to become one with the Sacred Heart of Jesus daily through the Eucharist. The Eucharist and the Sacred Heart of Jesus are one and the same. After joining himself with Christ’s Sacred Heart, he must draw others to this same mystical communion of hearts. The priest is ordained to celebrate the Eucharist, that is, to make present the heart of Jesus in the lives of his people. Ultimately what the priest has to give is not something of his own, but something of God’s. God has shared with us the infinite riches of his his heart through the sacrifice of the Mass. Open your hearts widely to receive what he has to offer!
Through prayer, the Scriptures, the sacraments, and most especially the Eucharist, Christ has joined us with his Sacred Heart. Pray for the newly ordained priests and for all priests that we may make that reality present for all of God’s people.
In Christ’s Priestly Heart