Greetings to dearest Sisters in Christ as we meet the many graces of the month of July, dedicated to devotion to the Most Precious Blood of Jesus. Fr Frederick Faber in The Precious Blood, provides insight to fortify our prayers this month: “Everything that is holy on earth is either a leaf, bud, blossom or fruit of the Blood of Jesus. … It is out of the Precious Blood that men draw martyrdoms, vocations, celibacies, austerities, heroic charities, and all the magnificent graces of high sanctity. The secret nourishment of prayer is from those fountains.”
The Mission is a film depicting a true story of 18th century Jesuit Missionaries bringing Christ to the Guarani Indians (South American jungle) and likewise aspiring to protect them from the slave trade. A priestly predecessor holding fast to the same goal was martyred. Despite this, barefooted Fr Gabriel arduously scales the mountainside inch-by-inch amid roaring waterfalls to reach these same people. The mission prevails. Love alone motivates such heroics. Finally reaching the crown, Fr Gabriel meets with an immediate, intense challenge. And then another, and another, and another. But again, and again, and again, the mission to bring Christ’s love compels. This witness of sincere love earns the respect and eventual reciprocal love of the tribe.
For Catholics, love through, with and in Christ is the fuel of mission. Seven Sisters understand and live this! The two words seem synonymous. The highest love we can offer for the priests/bishops for whom we commit to pray is intentionally and deliberately “inch-by-inch” beseeching sanctity – and remaining faithful to the mission! This is the will of God, your sanctity…. (I Thes 4:3). Any other goal is too small. God has indeed sent us on strong paths (Tenboom). His graces are sufficient. As Mother Angelica puts it: “We are called to be great saints. Don’t’ miss the opportunity. … Holiness is not for wimps and the cross is not negotiable… it’s a requirement.”
The Apostolate annual June re-commitment to continue in prayer is a fitting time to assure that our mission is rightly-ordered in God’s love to help bring about conformity to Christ in the priests/bishops for whom we pray. What might seven Saintly priests have to say about sanctity? Their words can perhaps serve to help form and strengthen the offerings of our Holy Hours in this coming year. Here are seven insights from holy Shepherds that desire the best for their brother priests and, while so doing, lead us and encourage us to continue to “follow the way of love” (Cor 14:1) … and its sure reward! …
1) “Holiness … is simply the state of grace purified, illuminated, beautified by the most perfect purity, exempt not only from mortal sin but also from the smallest faults; purity will make saints of you! Everything lies in this!” – St. Peter Julian Eymard
2) “As the shepherd, so the sheep; as the priest, so the people. Priest-victim leadership begets a holy Church. Every worldly priest hinders the growth of the Church; every saintly priest promotes it. If only all priests realized how their holiness makes the Church holy and how the Church begins to decline when the level of holiness among priests falls below that of the people!” – Bl Fulton J Sheen
3) “Nothing whatever pertaining to godliness and real holiness can be accomplished without grace.” – St. Augustine
4) “Do you wish to know if the people of any place are righteous? Look what sort of a pastor they have. If you find him pious, just, sound, believe the people will be the same, for they are seasoned with the salt of his wisdom.” – St. John Chrysostom
5) “If we would only bear in mind, dearly beloved brethren, the exalted character of the things that the Lord God has placed in our hands, what unbounded influence would not this have in impelling us to lead lives worthy of ecclesiastics! Has not the Lord placed everything in my hand, when he put there his only-begotten Son, coeternal and coequal with himself? In my hand he has placed all his treasures, his sacraments, his graces; he has placed there souls, than whom nothing can be dearer to him; in his love he has preferred them to himself, and redeemed them by his Blood; he has placed heaven in my hand, and it is in my power to open and close it to others…” – St. Charles Borromeo
6) “The priestly vocation is essentially a call to sanctity, in the form that derives from the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Sanctity is intimacy with God; it is the imitation of Christ, poor, chaste and humble; it is unreserved love for souls and self-giving to their true good; it is love for the church which is holy and wants us to be holy, because such is the mission that Christ has entrusted to it. Each one of you must be holy also in order to help your brothers pursue their vocation to sanctity.” – St. John Paul II
7) “The priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus.” – St. John Vianney, Apostolate patron
We serve as conduits of the very love of God. Dedicated emissaries, ambassadors of His love (II Cor 5:20). Our mission strengthens the Church. Exemplary is your steadfast perseverance and fidelity to love and prayer, especially while living these current difficult days!
Eventually, the oppressive slave traders and misguided powers within the Church itself pounced upon Fr Gabriel and the Christianized Guarani Indians. In the closing scenes of The Mission, Fr Gabriel, flanked by his congregation, firmly raises high the Blessed Sacrament in a monstrance and processes to meet the opposition. Amid singing, rifle shots silence the heart of Fr Gabriel. His last action, his last breath – literally upholding the mission. “Love is never finished.” – Pope Benedict XVI
United in prayer and mission…that our prayers may find the heart of every bishop and priest…
… eternal gratitude continues as you each remember to offer a wee Hail Mary for me every day…. “One Ave Maria makes hell tremble” (St John Vianney). Pray that I will not ‘spoil the beautiful work that God has entrusted…’ (St Teresa of Calcutta)
… your kind emails and notes and phone calls and generous support always arrive to my heart door at the right moment! Your financial sacrifices are for 100% furtherance of Apostolate. THANK YOU! The letters of testimony are so beautiful and edifying! What glory is given to God through your writing! Eternal gratitude is mine for YOU! Be assured of my continued daily prayers for you at the altar.