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Priesthood Sunday

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This week the Church celebrates the feast of St. Matthew, the feast of St. Padre Pio, and what would have been the feast of St. Vincent de Paul (since the feast of St. Vincent de Paul falls on a Sunday, the 26th Sunday in Ordinary Time takes precedence). As we prepare to celebrate Priesthood Sunday on September 27, sponsored by the Serra Club, we have a wonderful opportunity to prepare through the examples of these three men, of these three priests.

On the day of our ordination, we make a promise to pray for the Church, the people of God. We are to pray the official prayer of the Church, that is, the Divine Office also known as the Liturgy of the Hours. These five moments of prayer throughout the day give us a good moment to reconnect with our heavenly Father in the midst of the busy workday. One of the richest moments of prayer is called the Office of Readings. There is a hymn, three psalms, a reading from Scripture, a reading from the Church — it can be one of the Councils, it can be a Church document, or a piece of writing of the saint that we are currently celebrating, etc.

St. Bede reminds us that when Jesus tells Matthew to follow Him, it is not merely a get up and start walking, but a get up and start imitating. Throughout the Gospels we have beautiful examples of Jesus going off by Himself to pray, performing miracles, eating and creating community, and sacrificing Himself for others. That is what a priest is to do.

The Second Vatican Council, in Presbyterorum Ordinis(Decree on the Ministry and Life of the Priest), reminds us of the unity we as priests must have. Obviously, unity with Christ; but we must always strive for unity with our archbishop, unity with our brother priests and unity with the laity. We are all, clergy and laity alike, called to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect (Mt 5:48). That perfection can be achieved in the ministry to which the Lord has called us.

St. Vincent de Paul reminds us of the care and service to the poor. The charity we perform, even when we are in the midst of prayer, is as important as the moment of prayer we were just having. It is our duty to see the face of God in the other, in the poor. As the holy priest says, “God is not neglected if you leave Him (in prayer) for such service.” The reminder is that the poor is each one of us. Many times we may only think of the poor as those materially poor, and that is who St. Vincent is speaking of, but when we realize that each one of us has some sort of poverty, the scope of the charity that we must enact becomes much more impressive.

So, how do we prepare for Priesthood Sunday? We can ask the intercession of the saints we celebrate this week: St. Matthew, St. Padre Pio, and St. Vincent de Paul. We can learn their stories and teach others what they taught us. We can pray for our priests and seminarians that they may follow the Lord, striving for unity and charity. Finally, and most practically, we can consider joining our local Serra Club to support priests, seminarians, and vocations to the religious life. Whatever the Lord is calling us to, let us make sure we celebrate Priesthood Sunday!

St. Matthew, Pray for us!
St. Padre Pio, Pray for us!
St. Vincent de Paul, Pray for us!
St. Junipero Serra, Pray for us!
St. John Vianney, Pray for us!


Office of Readings on the feast of St. Matthew

Jesus saw Matthew, not merely in the usual sense, but more significantly with his merciful understanding of men. He saw the tax collector and, because he saw him through the eyes of mercy and chose him, he said to him: Follow me. This following meant imitating the pattern of his life – not just walking after him. On hearing Christ’s voice, we open the door to receive him, as it were, when we freely assent to his promptings and when we give ourselves over to doing what must be done. Christ, since he dwells in the hearts of his chosen ones through the grace of his love, enters so that he might eat with us and we with him. He ever refreshes us by the light of his presence insofar as we progress in our devotion to and longing for the things of heaven. He himself is delighted by such a pleasing banquet.

By St Bede


Office of Readings on the feast of St. Padre Pio

Priests are made in the likeness of Christ the Priest by the Sacrament of Orders, so that they may, in collaboration with their bishops, work for the building up and care of the Church which is the whole Body of Christ, acting as ministers of him who is the Head. By the sacred actions which are theirs daily, as well as by their entire ministry which they share with the bishop and their fellow priests, they are directed to perfection in their lives. Holiness does much for priests in carrying on a fruitful ministry. Although divine grace could use unworthy ministers to effect the work of salvation, yet for the most part God chooses, to show forth his wonders, those who are more open to the power and direction of the Holy Spirit, and who can by reason of their close union with Christ and their holiness of life say with St. Paul: "And yet I am alive; or rather, not I; it is Christ that lives in me" (Gal 2:20).

From Presbyterorum Ordinis


Office of Readings on the feast St. Vincent de Paul

It is our duty to prefer the service of the poor to everything else and to offer such service as quickly as possible. If a needy person requires medicine or other help during prayer time, do whatever has to be done with peace of mind. Offer the deed to God as your prayer. Do not become upset or feel guilty because you interrupted your prayer to serve the poor. God is not neglected if you leave him for such service. One of God’s works is merely interrupted so that another can be carried out. So when you leave prayer to serve some poor person, remember that this very service is performed for God. Charity is certainly greater than any rule. Moreover, all rules must lead to charity. Since she is a noble mistress, we must do whatever she commands. With renewed devotion, then, we must serve the poor, especially outcasts and beggars. They have been given to us as our masters and patrons.

From a writing of St. Vincent de Paul 

What is the Serra Club? Who are the Serrans?

Serra USA was formed in 1935. It happened when a small group of lay people in Seattle decided to form an organization to promote and foster vocations to the priesthood and consecrated religious life. As a result, they chose Father Junipero Serra, the great missionary, as their patron and named the organization Serra Club of Seattle.

Serrans are lay Catholics found around the world. They are men and women of all ages and from all walks of life. Members range from lawyers, doctors, and businesspeople, to nurses, clerks, stay-at-home workers, and retirees. All are dedicated to promoting and fostering vocations.

Fr. Matthew Gomez
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Comments from readers

Fr. Luis Garcia - 09/22/2020 02:29 PM
Dear Fr. Matthew: You are doing a good job and a great article on the priesthood. Always remember Padre Pio’s words: “ Pray trust and don’t worry.” Thank you.
HECTOR GONZALEZ - 09/21/2020 05:19 PM
Jeanne, you will soon realize, charity is a heavy load to carry, it is heavier than a bucket of soup and a basket of bread. But you will always keep your tenderness and your smile. It is not hard to serve soup and bread, even the rich can do it. But you are the servant of the poor, a daughter of charity, always smiling, always in good mood. They are your masters, touching and demanding masters, as you will see. The uglier and the dirtier they are, the more unfair and vulgar they are, the more love you will have to give. Only because of your love, only because of your love, will the poor forgive you for the bread you are giving them.
Maria Maguire - 09/21/2020 03:52 PM
Dear Fr. Gomez, As usual a very inspiring blog, most specially relative to Priesthood. I remember your blog in July comparing "fishing ministry" with the activities of pelicans, and I quote: (Let us be inspired by the gifts and talents that God has bestowed upon the young men he is calling to be his priests. Let us take the plunge and invite those young men to consider a vocation to the priesthood. Let us wholeheartedly and valiantly go fishing like a pelican). Many lay Catholics should have their "antennas" up among the young (or not so young) in our family and friends to spot a possible call to the Priesthood. May the Holy Spirit inspire us to be always "on the Watch" for this and continue praying for more of our young who are considering the priesthood to take that "plunge". You, as well as many other priests in our diocese. are living proof of how our Lord Jesus use your ministry for the salvation of souls and building up the Kingdom. God Bless you always.


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