Tuesday, April 21, 2009

International Man of Mystery...

During my retreat over Palm Sunday I began to read Those Mysterious Priests, written by the late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen (1895-1979). It was providential in that a section of the book spoke directly to me the same way the Spirit had leading up to the retreat - a spiritual insight to assist me in my priestly life. So, I am grateful for this. Here are some nice excerpts.

Every priest has the Mary-question put to him: “Will you give God a human nature?” Somewhere, sometime, during life, hidden in his vocation to the priesthood, the same query was asked. The hesitation, the doubts, the deep sense of unworthiness were all conscious responses to the wonder of the call. “How shall this be?” is as much a part of vocation as it was that of the Virgin Mary. Why should God want my poor humanity – a “pot of earthenware to contain this treasure” (2 Cor 4:7)? The Lord came into Jerusalem on an ass and He can do it again! What endows the priest with power is not his worthiness, but the fact that he becomes an instrument of Christ. God will work through his human nature, miserable as it be. God did not choose angels as His ministers, nor did He choose anyone because he was better than the rest of men. – pg 80. ("did not choose angels" reminds me of Cardinal Newman's homily "Men, not angels, the priests of God" as printed in the handy edition by Notre Dame Press.)

Two telling touchstones of a priest’s life are his attitudes to the Crucifix and the Eucharist. The three possible attitudes to Christ on the Cross are: antipathy, apathy, empathy.


Antipathy
was represented by those who wanted a Creed but no Cross: “Let Him come down from the Cross, and then we will believe Him” (Mat 27:42). Belief but no discipline; catechetics but no mortification; assent but no self-control; dissent but no reform. The scoffers at the foot of the Cross were ready to believe everything the Lord has taught: the Eucharist, the Keys of Peter, the Trinity, even His Divinity. But there was one condition – no Cross. Much disbelief is not due to a want of an explanation or proof, but of a refusal to obey.


Apathy
was personalized in those who shook dice: “After fastening Him to the Cross they divided His clothes among them by casting lots. And then sat down there to watch” (Mat 27:36). Spectators but no participators, they were involved with the world but not with redemption. Like the scribes whom Herod consulted as to where Christ would be born, they knew, but they did not go.


Empathy
[is] represented by those who stood with Mary at the Cross. Everyone in the world is either on or underneath the Cross. No escape is possible. Some are on it through actual physical suffering or because they are identified with the sufferings of others in Christ’s name, like Mary and others standing at the Cross, missionaries, social workers, mothers of handicapped children, etc. Others are beneath it, demanding His Crucifixion, ridiculing sacrifice or being indifferent enough to play games under its shadow, or telling saintly priests they are “behind the times.”
--- pgs 100 – 101.

1 comment:

Fr. Stephen, C.S.C. said...

Great stuff, Michael, thanks! I read Sheen's "The Priest is Not His Own" shortly after ordination and it was very powerful to me. THIS is a a spirituality of the priesthood!