• The next Dads' Prayer Group meeting will be this Sunday, May 14, at 7:00 PM.
• Bishop Kevin Vann will bestow the sacrament of Confirmation on our students on Wednesday, May 15, at 6:30 PM. A modest reception will follow in the Perpetual Help and St. Joseph classrooms.
• Our school’s Spring Concert will be on Sunday, May 19, at 7:00 PM, in the Perpetual Help classroom. All are invited.
• Graduation will be on May 27 (Memorial Day), at 7:00 PM, in the abbey courtyard. All students are required to attend.
• The last day of school is May 31 (in case you forgot!).
Congratulations to Jacob Rems who ranked 15th in the nation for archery!
O Priest! Thou art not thyself, because thou art God; thou art not of thyself, because thou art the servant and minister of Christ; thou art not thine own, because thou art the spouse of the Church; thou art not for thyself, because thou art the mediator between God and man; thou art not from thyself, because thou art nothing. What then art thou, O Priest? Nothing and everything. O Priest! Take care lest what was said to Christ on the Cross be said to thee: "He saved others, himself he cannot save".
These words are for the most part the only written legacy left by St. Norbert to his spiritual sons. There has been much written about St. Norbert, but as far as things written by him, this exhortation is almost all that remains; and it is enough. One can imagine how many times that great reformer of the clergy must have repeated these words to his own sons in religion. Today, on this Good Shepherd Sunday, they echo back to us once again traveling over eight hundred and fifty years: What then art thou, O Priest? Nothing and everything.
There is, perhaps, no other institution on earth today which is suffering such an attack, which is so full of trials and tribulations as the Catholic Priesthood. And we should not be surprised; for the devil knows quite well the proverb, Strike the shepherd and the sheep shall scatter. Take out a priest and he’ll drag hundreds, maybe even thousands of souls down with him. Or as Chaucer once wrote, If a priest grow foul, in whom we should trust, no wonder that a common man should rust. Yes, the devil and the world have unleashed an all-out attack against God’s priests, because in so doing they strike at the very heart of the Church. This is to be expected and is really nothing new.
The priest is nothing and everything. Priests are, in a sense, nothing, sinners, called forth from the multitude of sinners, and yet called to a vocation which infinitely surpasses their own natural abilities. Oftentimes God will call even the most unlikely of candidates to become a priest, knowing ahead of time as He does their own shortcomings, their own nothingness. But the master violinist can take a cheap garage sale instrument and still bring forth from it the sweetest sounds. In a similar way God can take a feeble man and through his sin-stained hands produce divine wonders. But the priest, in order to serve well as God’s instrument, must first admit his own nothingness. He must approach his vocation with the greatest humility, continually begging for the grace to be a worthy instrument, to serve God faithfully, to imitate Christ the great High Priest in all things. It is only when the priest admits that he is just a man that God can use him as another Christ, an alter Christus. Yes, the priest by himself is nothing, but through him God can
The priest is nothing and everything. Though a sinful man of flesh and blood, through the sacrament of Holy Orders God bestows on the priest divine powers: to baptize, to preach in His Name, to anoint the sick, to forgive sins, to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. What other creature on earth has ever been given such awesome powers? Powers which even the angels and the Mother of God cannot claim, powers before which the gates of hell tremble. The devil once said of St. John Vianney: Oh, if there were twelve priests in the world like John Vianney, my kingdom would crumble.
A priest is ordained for two reasons: for the glory of God and the salvation of souls. It is for these two reasons that at their Ordination God bestows upon His priests what the Church calls the “priestly character”—a certain power imprinted on his soul which associates the priest with Christ in an intimate manner and allows the priest—a mere man—to perform those wondrous deeds, the sacraments of the Church, especially the sacraments of Confession and the Holy Mass. A priest is not a psychologist or counselor, nor is he a social worker or political leader, even if his work at times touches on such areas. The priest stands as mediator between God and men: offering up to God the prayers, petitions and sufferings of man, and bringing down upon man the truth, love and mercy of God. He is required by his office to give himself completely to Christ—that is one reason why he does not marry. Like Our Blessed Lord the priest spends his life praying for the salvation of souls, doing penance and making reparation for the many sins which offend the very God Who desires to save us. And like Our Lord he is to search out those who are lost, pouring out his sweat, his tears and even his blood, if necessary, in order to bring them to the one Church which Christ established for the salvation of all.
Yes, the tragedy today is that some priests have forgotten these two truths: that by themselves they are nothing, and that with God they are everything. In fact, it seems as if the whole thing has been turned completely inside out: too many priests all too often exalt their own self and neglect the divine power given them. They think by themselves they are everything, and then a false humility moves them to consider God’s gifts as nothing. Their poverty is practiced at the altar, using the cheapest vestments and vessels they can find, while they themselves live in the
lap of luxury. Their chastity is lived out only in their coldness towards the faithful who come to them for the sacraments. Their obedience all too often is not to Christ and His decrees, but rather to human respect and the present decadent culture. Having trusted too much in their own human self, they have lost faith in the power of Christ in which they share.
No plan to reform the Church will take place until there is a reform of the clergy; and no reform of the clergy will ever succeed until priests learn to die to self so that Christ may live in and shine through them. When you look at a priest you should not see Fr. So-and-so; you should see Christ.
As we celebrate Good Shepherd Sunday (and Mothers’ Day!), pray for all priests, for it is through them that God’s saving grace comes to you—and yet, they are only men, feeble sinners in need of your prayers and support. And pray that the many graces God sends through the hands of His priests be accepted by men, and not met with pride, disobedience and hardness of heart, so that when this life passes away we all may spend eternity with that great High Priest, Jesus Christ, to Whom be all glory and honor! Amen.
• For all the benefactors of St. Michael’s Preparatory School, living and deceased.
• For all the students and families of St. Michael’s Preparatory School.
• For all faculty and staff of St. Michael’s Preparatory School.
• For the Sturkie Family’s very special intention.
• For the Church.