By Msgr. Bruce Piechocki and Elizabeth Fagerberg
Father, We Thank Thee, Who Hast Planted (Gather Comprehensive No. 568); Hosea (No. 386)
Prayer for Priests
Gracious and loving God, we thank You for the gift of our priests. Through them, we experience Your presence in the sacraments. Help our priests to be strong in their vocation. Set their souls on fire with love for Your people. Grant them the wisdom, understanding, and strength they need to follow in the footsteps of Jesus.
Inspire them with the vision of Your Kingdom. Give them the words they need to spread the Gospel. Allow them to experience joy in their ministry. Help them to become instruments of Your divine grace.
We ask this through Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns as our Eternal Priest. Amen.
(From the Web site: www.catholicdaughters.org)
Excerpt from Pope Benedict XVI’s Letter to Priests
The saintly Cure of Ars reflected something of the same idea when he said: “It is not the sinner who returns to God to beg his forgiveness, but God himself who runs after the sinner and makes him return to Him. This good Saviour is so filled with love that he seeks us everywhere.”
Commentary from Msgr. Bruce Piechocki, Pastor, Our Lady of Good Hope, Fort Wayne
I live out the words of Pope Benedict both as a minister of Reconciliation and as one who sins. As a minister of Reconciliation, I am humbled by the way in which God uses my clumsy words and efforts to draw people to seek forgiveness. Whether it be in conversation or preaching, it seems so often that words I regard as insignificant are the very words people claim led them to seek God’s forgiveness and healing. During celebrations of the sacrament of Penance, there have been many times I have heard myself sharing words that I would never have thought to say in a million years. I know that it is God at work, not me!
As a fellow sinner, it is often the words or examples of persons much closer to God than I who open my heart to my own need for forgiveness. The Lord Jesus is not content to let me go my own way. He uses others to get my attention, sometimes even using their faith and lives to give me a spiritual kick in the backside when I am too blind or stubborn to realize that my own need for forgiveness and my complete dependence on God.
When we celebrate the sacrament of Reconciliation, it is not only our sins that we need to remember but the love of Christ as well. To simply remember our sins and feel bad about our human failures is really only the beginning. We are to grow in awareness that our Father is calling us to a relationship of love with Him. He has so much more in mind for us!
Pope John Paul II highlighted the sacrament of Reconciliation as a personal encounter of conversion and healing. He insisted on “a rediscovery of Christ as mysterium pietatis, the one in whom God shows us his compassionate heart and reconciles us fully with himself. It is this face of Christ that must be rediscovered through the Sacrament of Penance.” — Nova Millenium Ineunte, n. 37.
Christ shows us His face so that we can live like Him, and the only way we can live like Him is if He is in us. Becoming holy is a participation in God’s own life, and it begins with our baptism. If we come to believe that Christ is alive in us, then the sacrament of Reconciliation is not just a matter of spending some time with God to “clean the slate,” but it is actually deepening our union with Him. Truth be told, God is giving us His holiness, so we need to give Him our time in prayer and in regular celebration of the sacrament of Reconciliation.
We must learn to let go of our own mind and our own way of life so that we can take on the mind of Christ. Then we will welcome the opportunities offered in the sacrament of Penance to let Him inhabit us, instruct us, correct us and console us.
Our Father is more anxious to forgive than we are to ask. Why do we find it hard to take Him at His word?
What hinders us from celebrating the sacrament of Reconciliation?
Do we use the daily opportunities that surround us to practice forgiveness?
Do we notice when we are being forgiven by others?
Lord, our God, help us to walk with You on the pathway of the beatitudes and to live out Your mission in today’s world. Bind us to all men and women so that together we may bring the Good News to the ends of the earth. Open our hearts and our communities to the needy, the afflicted and the oppressed. May we radiate the Living Christ and transform our lives in the hope of the Resurrection. This prayer we make to You, our living God, now and forever. Amen.
— Prayer for Mission No. 2: adapted from the Web site: www.catholic.org/prayers.
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