Year for Priests Pilgrimage Journal
Pope Benedict XVI declared a “Year for Priests” beginning with the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on 19 June 2009. The year concluded in Rome with an international gathering of priests with the Holy Father from 9-11 June 2010.Rev Luis Fernando Montano Rodriguez MG, Parish Priest of St Monica's in North Parramatta, was one of the priests from the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta who participated in the Rome celebrations. Below is the fourth and final instalment of Fr Fernando's Year for Priests pilgrim's journal.
Pilgrimage Journal Part IV: Journey's End
The following day was the big day, the closing of the Year of the Priest on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Very early in the morning priest were gathering outside St Peter’s square for the big celebration. The final number of priests that attended the final mass was calculated or around 15,000, all the papal schools in Rome gave the day off so priests and seminarians studying in Rome could attend the celebration. It was a very sunny and hot day in the Roman summer.
The Mass was very solemn, priests were asked to keep an atmosphere of prayer not taking pictures during the celebration of the Eucharist. The homily was again very inspirational, it will be remembered as the homily when the Pope said that “the priesthood is a gift from the Heart of Christ”, part of the homily was also based on the meditation of the Psalm 23, the lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want. The Pope reminded us that for a priest as for every Christian, Jesus is the only one we shall want, he fulfils every single desire of the human heart and also based on that Psalm he mentioned that priests also walk sometimes through the valley of death that for a priest sometimes are solitude and temptations, the rod and the staff of the lord are our strength. Very true!
The inspiration of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
At the end of the mass the Pope made an act of consecration of the Priests to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. A beautiful prayer that we all did kneeling down under the Roman heat, but with true devotion, praying not only for our own priesthood but also for all our brothers in the priesthood, especially those more in need of our prayers. I want to share with you the prayer so you can keep it and say it during your prayer time. With this prayer I want to finish this series of articles about my pilgrimage to Rome for the closing of the year of the Priest, I want to remind you, as the Holy Father did, that even when the Year of the Priest comes to a close, the meditation and the insights about the Priesthood keep going. Hopefully the Sacred Heart of Jesus will inspire many young men to follow him more closely.
Immaculate Mother, in this place of grace, called together by the love of your Son Jesus the Eternal High Priest, we, sons in the Son and his priests, consecrate ourselves to your maternal Heart, in order to carry out faithfully the Father’s will.
We are mindful that, without Jesus, we can do nothing good (cf.Jn 15:5) and that only through him, with him and in him, will be instruments of salvation for the world.
Bride of the Holy Spirit, obtain for us the inestimable gift of transformation in Christ. Through the same power of the Spirit that overshadow you, making you Mother of the Saviour, help us to bring Christ your Son to birth in ourselves too.
May the Church be thus renewed by priests who are holy, priests transfigured by the grace of him who makes all things new.
Mother of Mercy, it was your Son Jesus who called us to become like him: light of the world and salt of the earth (cf. Mt 5:13-14)
Help us, through your powerful intercession, never to fall short of this sublime vocation, nor to give way to our selfishness, to the allurements of the world and to
the wiles of the Evil One.
Preserve us with your purity, guard us with your humility and enfold us with your maternal love that is reflected in so many souls consecrated to you, who have become for us true spiritual mothers.
Mother of the Church, we priests want to be pastors who do not feed themselves but rather give themselves to God for their brethren, finding their happiness in this. Not only with words, but with our lives, we want to repeat humbly, day after day, Our “here I am”.
Guided by you, we want to be Apostles of Divine Mercy, glad to celebrate every day the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar and to offer to those who request it the sacrament of Reconciliation.
Advocate and Mediatrix of grace, you who are fully immersed in the one universal mediation of Christ, invoke upon us, from God, a heart completely renewed that loves God with all its strength and serves mankind as you did.
Repeat to the Lord you efficacious word” “They have no wine” (Jn2:3), so that the Father and the Son will send upon us a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
Full of wonder and gratitude at your continuing presence in our midst, in the name of all priests I too want to cry out: “Why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Lk 1:43).
Our Mother of all time, do not tire of “visiting us”, consoling us, sustaining us. Come to our aid and deliver us from every danger that threatens us. With this act of entrustment and consecration, we wish to welcome you more deeply, more radically, for ever and totally into our human and priestly lives.
Let your presence cause new blooms to burst forth in the desert of our loneliness, let it cause the sun to shine on our darkness, let it restore calm after the tempest, so that all mankind shall see the salvation of the Lord, who has the name and the face of Jesus, who is reflected in our hearts for ever united to yours!
Peace in Jesus
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