Via New Advent, Msgr. Charles Pope gives a glimpse of the joy he finds in his priesthood, particularly in conferring sacraments among the faithful — worshiping with them, communing with them, receiving them, anointing them. It is a look at one day in his life, an atypical one, surely, which also happened to include his own birthday celebration. His pleasure in all of it, his gratitude for the ability to confer these sacramental gifts, is evident in every word as he describes a day that brought four Eucharistic masses, heard confessions, performed two marriages, a baptism, a confirmation and an anointing:
Well, there you have it. My gift in a “strange package,” a sacramental six-pack, every sacrament I can possibly celebrate. It was a bone-crusher of a day but God is so good. I don’t suppose a priest could have any better gift that to be reminded so powerfully of his purpose on the eve of his 50th birthday.
But God knows me well enough to realize that he had to send a prophet to decode it all for me, just to make sure I got it. It came on Sunday afternoon, the evening of my birthday. Two of the Sisters came from the Convent presented me with a cake and sang happy birthday.
Innocently they asked me how my birthday weekend had gone. “Do you have a few minutes Sisters?” I said. And I told them the whole story.
One of them looked at me and said, “Do you see what God was saying to you on your 50th birthday? He was saying, ‘This is why I created you.’”
Yes, that is what he was saying alright. And it was the best gift I could have received.
A priest lives not to himself, but for the life of the Body of Christ, which he feeds and serves within community. Thank you, Msgr. Pope, for your faithful, daily willingness to live outside of yourself, for consenting to live outside of yourself, wholly for Christ, to the purpose for which you were created.
Along similar lines, as we approach the season of clothings and professions and vows, Sr. Lisa Doty shares the remembrance of her own solemn profession and the words she wrote then:
One of the most important things I have learned in all my years of preparation for my final vows was that despite my sin – doing the things I don’t want – God continues to love me. Our humanity is so used to judging people based on what they do, or in religious circles, how good one is. My experience of God has taught me that despite my weakness, my failure, my small capacity to love as Jesus loves, Christ still loves me and desires me to belong fully to Him. I have found that I will never be perfect or worthy to belong to Christ Himself; but I have also found that God wants me anyway. He takes me as I am and I find that it is His love that perfects me. And slowly, with His grace which flows always through the Sacraments, I am being transformed to be more like Him and more able to love like He loves. This new awareness has prepared me to choose a life of belonging to the One who is Love, with a desire to live my life so to make Him known.
Thanks, too, to Sr. Lisa, for her faithfulness.
And now, go take a look at the exquisitely lovely and touching ceremony of a young Passionist Nun making her first vows — the Passionist Rite is very different from most monastic ceremonies, and the pictures are gorgeous, as is Sr. Rose Marie, who is radiant in the great joy of her obedience. I don’t have permission to use any of them, so do check it out!