Last night the Casa Santa Maria priest community was honored to have present for supper Archbishop Raymond Burke, Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura. Afterwards, His Excellency gave a reflection on The Year for Priests, declared by Pope Benedict XVI to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the death of St. John Vianney.
The archbishop spoke from his heart and his experience as a priest and over 14 years of service as a bishop. He reminded us 60 or so priests present that it is all too easy to be timid in our priestly paternity either due to our self-consciousness or at times our self-absorption. And such timidity is, at its root, a failure to recognize the great gift of the priesthood to the Church. Whether it be timidity in our teaching office or our timid use of clerical garb, it is all the fruit of a false humility that relies more on ourselves than on the power of Christ Jesus Himself.
The archbishop often referred back to the saintly example of the Cure of Ars who himself suffered under the office of the priesthood. He had a great devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, as did many in that French milieu. Blessed Basil Moreau, CSC, for instance, dedicated the priest society of the congregation to the care of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The archbishop reminded us that the Sacred Heart of Jesus is surrounded by the crown of thorns. If indeed the priesthood is "the love of the heart of Jesus" as defined by St. Vianney, then surely this love is mingled with the pain of the crown of thorns.
Here the archbishop speaks from the heart and his own experience as a man whose own good name has been mocked in popular media resulting in a gross caricature which is far from the truth.
And lastly, it is in the liturgy that the priest's true identity shines through, but not when we manipulate the liturgy, but when we obediently submit to the rite and to the mystery.