I want to share the following, written by the late John Paul II in his annual Letter to Priests, dated Holy Thursday, 1982. I find these words quite applicable to my own priestly life, one that is lived out in a way far from perfect but ever striving to cooperate more fully with God's Grace.
Freedom, true freedom, the freedom that is found when in the abiding presence of God, is quite easily misunderstood in our modern culture. We are all products of a common modern society, and so, each of us are shaped by a false or delusional sense of freedom, the fruit of which is a numb sadness, a melancholy born from our unceasing spinning and running and striving and bleeding and chasing our own tail in circles while all along true freedom is found in God and God alone.
And so, on this Vigil of Pentecost, insightful words from John Paul II:
Save us from "grieving Your Spirit" (Ephesians 4:30)
--by our lack of faith and lack of readiness to witness to Your Gospel "in deed and in truth";
-- by secularism and by wishing at all costs to conform to the mentality of this world;
-- by a lack of that love which is "patient and kind . . . ," which "is not boastful . . ." and which "does not insist on its own way . . .", which "bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things . . ." and that which "rejoices in the right" and only in the right.
Save us from "grieving Your Spirit":
-- by everything that brings inward sadness and is an obstacle for the soul;
-- by whatever causes complexes and divisions;
-- by whatever makes us a fertile soil for all temptations;
-- by whatever shows itself as a desire to hide one's priesthood before men and to avoid all external signs of it;
-- by whatever can in the end bring one to the temptation to run away, under the pretext of the "right to freedom."
Save us from demeaning the fullness and richness of our freedom, which we have ennobled and realized by giving ourselves to You and accepting the gift of the priesthood.
Save us from separating our freedom from You, to whom we owe the gift of this inexpressible grace.
Save us from "grieving Your Spirit."
Enable us to love with that love with which Your Father "loved the world" when He gave "his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life."
"Send forth Your Spirit . . . and renew the face of the earth." Renew too the face of that priestly earth which You made fruitful by the sacrifice of Your body and blood, the sacrifice which You renew through our hands every day on the altars, in the vineyard of Your Church.