INSIDE THIS WEEK’S PAPER
THE FULL TEXT OF BENEDICT XVI’S INSPIRING LETTER TO THE WORLD’S PRIESTS PAGE 11
JACK SCARISBRICKTHE FIVE HOMILIES I’D LOVE TO HEAR COMMENT PAGE 12
June 262009£1.20 (Republic of Ireland €1.70)
Revive devotions for year of priests, urges Archbishop
ARCHBISHOP Vincent Nichols of Westminster has opened the Year for Priests by urging Catholics to devote an hour each week to pray for priests in front of the Blessed Sacrament.
The Archbishop made the plea in a homily at Westminster Cathedral in which he said every parish should focus its year’s efforts on a renewal of prayer life.
He also suggested that parishes introduce Forty Hours’ Devotion, where Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is kept up continuously at a succession of different churches.
He said the practice would “sustain us in our life together, enable us to thank God whole-heartedly for the gift of our priests” and be a source for new vocations.
His homily coincided with the Pope’s own formal opening of the Year for Priests at an evening prayer service at St Peter’s Basilica last Friday.
During the service Pope Benedict XVI prayed in front of a relic of the heart of St John Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests. The year-long focus on priestly ministry was meant to coincide with the 150th anniversary of his death.
He said the saint’s heart had “burned with divine love”, a love that priests need to imitate if they are to be effective pastors.
The day before the Mass Benedict XVI had issued a six-page letter celebrating the priesthood while acknowledging the harm that some priests had done.
He said: “What is most helpful to the Church... is not only a frank and complete acknowledgment of the weaknesses of her ministers, but also a joyful and renewed realisation of the greatness of God’s gift [of the priesthood].”
In his homily at Westminster Archbishop Nichols said the Year
for Priests was “a year in which, as a Church, we say that we are proud of our priests, that we love them, honour them and recognise with gratitude the witness of their lives and the generosity of their pastoral work”.
He said for priests it was “a time for renewal in our ministry” –a renewal that would depend on each priest’s relationship with Christ. “It is this relationship, above all else, that we will seek to renew, for from it flows our love for our people and our willingness to serve them freely and joyfully,” he said.
The Archbishop said there was no better day for the year to begin than the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The Sacred Heart, he said, was a symbol of “the total self-giving love of the Lord” which priests try to reflect in their own lives.
He said there were many ways to speak about the role of the priest –as a leader, a teacher, and an “enabler, helping his people to live to the full the gifts of the Holy Spirit”.
But his favourite image of the priest, he said, was as “an instrument in the hand of the Lord –a pencil, pen or biro perhaps –with which the Lord can write all that the Father tells him. And what he writes –if we permit him –will most certainly be a story of unfailing love.”
He said priests were most clearly the instruments of Christ when they celebrated Mass and when they absolved sins –“the great treasure and privilege of the priesthood”.
He said: “Today, we priests need to remember that all our words carry great resonance. The words we say, the things we do, can bring about great good, even when we don’t intend it. In the same way our words and our actions can also cause great harm.
“Our ill-chosen words and our
wrong actions also have a similar resonance. This we know too well.”
It is widely thought that praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament has become much more common under the pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict XVI after a decline in the practice after Vatican II.
Fr Peter Newby, parish priest at St Mary Moorfields in the City of London, said he had seen a change over the last 10 or 15 years and was surprised by how many churches had some form of weekly Adoration now.
He said life at his own church had been “profoundly affected” by perpetual Adoration.
“It allows people to come and go without having to encounter anyone and just to have a private conversation with God,” he said.
Fr Newby also said he thought it had a powerful effect on vocations. “It helps cultivate profoundly committed Catholics in big numbers. It feeds an intensity.”
Fr Alexander Sherbrooke, parish priest at St Patrick’s, Soho, London, which also has daily Adoration, agreed that it seemed to have a strong impact on vocations.
“Where there has been Eucharistic Adoration, many vocations have come,” he said.
“The prayer of Adoration is a call to humility, it’s a call to go back on our knees and to implore the Lord for his help.
“It’s also a call [for priests] to be more centred on the celebration of the Holy Mass –the Mass is the centre of being a priest.”
Fr Tim Finigan, parish priest in Blackfen, Kent, said Archbishop Nichols’s initiative was “most heartening”. “It is a great consolation for priests to know that their people are praying for them,” he said.
Letter to priests: Page 11 Editorial comment: Page 13
Archbishop Vincent Nichols pictured during the opening Mass for the Year for Priests at Westminster Cathedral last Friday Mazur / CCN / www.catholicchurch.org.uk
‘Devote an hour to prayer for priests’
BY ARCHBISHOP VINCENT NICHOLS
TODAY we begin a Year for Priests, called for by Pope Benedict XVI to be observed throughout the world. It is a year in which, as a Church, we say that we are proud of our priests, that we love them, honour them and recognise with gratitude the witness of their lives and the generosity of their pastoral work. During this year we will pray for our priests and again offer them our support.
For us priests, this Year is to be a time of renewal in our ministry. We know that our lives as priests depend on our personal relationship with the Lord. It is this relationship, above all else, that we will seek to renew, for from it flows our love for our people and our willingness to serve them freely and joyfully...
During this year of the priest, as a diocese, we will centre our effort round a renewed practice of prayer. In every parish we will centre this effort on prayer before the Blessed Sacrament and the rosary. I hope every parish will devote an hour each week to prayer for priests before the Blessed Sacrament and that a rhythm of Forty Hours’ Devotion to the Blessed Sacrament is established around the deaneries. I hope this renewal will reach to our schools, too. This practice of prayer, as well as study, will sustain us in our life together, it will enable us to thank God whole-heartedly for the gift of our priests and, I believe, it will be the source from which new vocations to the priesthood will spring.
This year is also an opportunity for all the baptised to recall and renew a sense of being one with Christ the High Priest. All members of the Church share in this priesthood of Christ. We are a priestly people. In practice this means that every baptised person is to offer each day to the Lord, in conscious prayer, so that it may be made holy. The priesthood of all the baptised is the call to make this world holy, through prayer, through our morning offering, and through faithfully carrying out every duty as an offering to the Lord. Perhaps we can renew this sense of our common priesthood too.
Bishops ask leaders to remember the poor at next month’s G8 talks
THEBISHOPS of the G8 countries have written an open letter to their leaders ahead of their next summit, urging them to remember the poor.
Archbishop Vincent Nichols and Cardinal Keith O’Brien signed the letter calling for the G8 nations to deepen “partnerships with developing countries”.
Other signatories included the heads of the German, French, American, Russian,
Japanese, Italian and Canadian bishops’ conferences before the G8 meeting on July 7 in the earthquake-ravaged region of L’Aquila in Italy.
In the current global economic crisis, the bishops argued, it is important not to forget the poor who were the least responsible for the economy’s woes.
They urged leaders to “take concerted actions to protect poor persons and assist developing countries”. They called on the G8 and other
economic powers to work towards ensuring the Millennium Development Goals, especially in Africa, remember the effects of climate change on the poor and strengthen peacekeeping efforts.
In his reply Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he shared “a passion for, and commitment to, development issues”, thanking the bishops for bringing the issues to the fore.
He said: “Critical to this
agenda is maintaining and delivering our aid commitments in order to reduce global poverty and achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
“The G8’s credibility rests upon demonstrating that our commitments are being fulfilled. Britain is on track to meet our ambitious aid commitments, but we need to improve our ability to track and make progress on past commitments together. I hope the G8 makes progress in this regard.”
Stringfellows to host priest’s book launch
Former speaker alleges anti-Catholic prejudice
ABOOK called Sinners and Saints , billed as “the irreverent diaries of Britain’s most controversial priest”, is to be launched at one of Britain’s most notorious nightclubs.
Fr Michael Seed’s memoir of his dealings with the great and the good, including surreptitiously slipping through a Downing Street window to celebrate Mass for the Blairs,
will have its launch party at Stringfellows in Covent Garden, London, famous for its racy pole dancing, on July 15.
Fr Seed, a Franciscan Friar of the Atonement, has been known for years as “the priest to the stars”.
His friends range from Suggs, lead singer of the band Madness, to the Barclay brothers, the reclusive owners of the Daily Telegraph, a host of politicians and several royals including the Duchess of Kent. Cardinal Basil Hume appointed him his ecumenical adviser, a post he held for 21 years.
FORMERHOUSE of Commons speaker Michael Martin has claimed that his nickname “Gorbals Mick” may have stemmed from antiCatholic prejudice at Westminster.
The MP, who resigned as speaker this month following the Daily Telegraph expenses revelations, said: “If I came from the Gorbals, I would be
proud to say so. There are people in the Gorbals who are too good to wipe the boots of people who say that sort of thing. I come from
Anderston, like Billy Connolly.”
The Glasgow district has
long had a large Irish
Catholic population. Mr Martin became a
sheet metal worker at the age of 15 and
an MP in 1979, aged 33. In 2000 he became the first Catholic
speaker since the Reformation.
DON’T MISS: THE TRUTH ABOUT ST FRANCIS AND THE SULTAN P16
(8!4445,55 ''4(55 156&1'( (0&.15(<<<<6+(4 61+(.26+15(9+1$4(57))(4,0*,0!4,$0-$ (0&.15($&+(37(61,'616+(+74&+,0((' 2.($5('(%,6/;"!$56(4$4'/(:$(5641 #################################### !,*0$674(564,2&1'(.$56%.1&-1)',*,65######## :2,4;$6("$.,'41/$6( 557(1$(5641 !,*0$674(