Mass for the retired priests of the Archdiocese of Melbourne at George Maher House, Clifton Hill
MASS CELEBRATED BY ARCHBISHOP DENIS HART FOR THE RETIRED PRIESTS OF THE ARCHDIOCESE AT GEORGE MAHER HOUSE, CLIFTON HILL, ON WEDNESDAY 10 DECEMBER 2008 AT 11AM.
My dear brothers in the priesthood,
At the end of another year I come with joy and hope to celebrate Mass with you in thanksgiving for our common gift of priesthood in this season of Advent when we remember how near the Lord is to our lives and how strong is his message of encouragement, inviting us to contemplation and thanksgiving.
As we call to mind our sins, let us ask the Lord that he will give us light and continued hope for the future, as we pray for each other and for all priests.
My dear brothers in the priesthood,
Today we spend a few moments of reflection in thanksgiving for the year that has passed, for the friendships that we have shared and for those who support us here in our time of retirement. Family members and friends also have joined us to remind all of us that those who receive ordination are priests forever and that every prayer and deed we perform is of value for the salvation of souls. Indeed, a time of retirement with freedom from administrative tasks can provide the ideal atmosphere for prayer and reflection.
In Advent we turn our minds back to the first coming of Christ, born in a stable at Bethlehem, to our commemoration of this event with the approach of Christmas, and to the unshakeable awareness that at the end of our life we will meet God face to face, where he in justice and mercy will welcome and respect the decisions we have made with regard to our life.
At all times, but particularly at present, it is important to remember that our life is supported by being a man of prayer.
Father Jean Galot, S.J., said:
“There is no reason to contrast personal holiness with priestly activity. These belong together; they strengthen each other.”
Saint Teresa of Avila would stress that spending time in prayer is often wasting time with God, seemingly useless but of great importance in the life of the priest.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta said this:
“Prayer is the food of life of a priest. A priest who does not pray cannot stay close to Christ, he cannot allow Christ to use him as he wants to use him. The fruit of prayer is always the deepening of faith and unless the priest has that deepening of faith it is very difficult for him to pray. And the fruit of faith is always love, and if a priest does not love how will he help others to love. And the fruit of love is service, service as Jesus said: ‘I have come among you as one who serves’, and the priest is meant to be that one to come among his own and be the servant of all.”
Pope John Paul went on further to say:
“Do not be afraid that time dedicated to the Lord will take anything away from your apostolate. On the contrary it will be the source of fruitfulness in the ministry.”
And Pope Benedict goes on further:
“Let us not be consumed with haste, as if time dedicated to Christ in silent prayer were time wasted. On the contrary it is precisely then that the most wonderful fruits of pastoral service come to birth. There is no need to be discouraged on account of the fact that prayer requires effort, or because of the impression that Jesus remains silent. He is indeed silent, but he is at work …
The faithful expect only one thing from priests; that they be specialists in promoting the encounter between man and God. The priest is not asked to be an expert in economics, construction or politics. He is expected to be an expert in the spiritual life. There is a need to replenish the dry well at the river of life, which is prayer. This is the genuine call of the Father to choose the better part and to bring people into a deeper relationship with God.”
Indeed, I have always believed that there is a special ministry of reflection and prayer that the priests at George Maher House and Justin Villa can do to support the whole work of the Archdiocese. In an increasingly pressured modern world people are losing sight of the need to pray and of the role of God in their lives. The Archdiocese needs your prayers that we may find the heart to love God’s people, the words to teach, guide and console them, the ability when celebrating the Mass and the Sacraments to draw them like a magnet to the holiness in which all are invited to share.
With great thankfulness for you and for your many years of priestly service I would want you to know that your contribution to the Church, always valued, is highly significant now in the time which the Lord gives you.
A couple of years ago Pope Benedict when questioned of the pressures which operate in the priesthood today stressed:
“The foundation of our priestly life is an intimate communion with Christ whose food was to do the will of the Father. It is important that the union with Christ abide in conscience and in action: All that I do I am doing in communion with him. By doing it I am with him. All my activities, no matter how varied and often divergent, constitute only one vocation: to be together with Christ acting as an instrument in communion with him.” (Address to priests and deacons in Freising, 12)
+ Denis J. Hart,
Archbishop of Melbourne