We have entered the back half of Lent and, I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for Easter. Is there anything better than attending the Easter Vigil after a hard-fought Lent?
It makes me wonder how our priests are doing.
It’s an exciting time of the year for them too. Holy Week and the Easter Triduum form the highlight of the liturgical calendar.
But nothing gets organised by wishful thinking and the demands are as intense as the ceremonies are long.
A Priest’s Joy in the Easter Vigil
In the early years of our marriage, my wife and I attended a wonderful parish in Melbourne.
The parish priest there, than whom no better preacher can be found, would stage each year an Easter Vigil for the ages.
Well, it certainly took ages! Not missing the opportunity to keep vigil through all of the Old Testament readings proffered by the Church’s liturgy.
Afterwards there would be a gathering at a friend’s house, as traditional as the Service of Light, to which our parish priest would also come.
Upon draining a “cleansing ale”, as it was called with a smirk, he would sink deeply into an aged Scotch and, if the ladies didn’t complain too much, a cigar.
It was a privilege to witness the sheer joy of this fine priest, exalting in the Risen Christ and a job well done.
Understanding the Priest’s Identity
Quoting Pope Pius XII and St Thomas Aquinas, the Catechism helps us to appreciate more deeply the identity of priests:
It is the same priest, Christ Jesus, whose sacred person his minister truly represents. Now the minister, by reason of the sacerdotal consecration which he has received, is truly made like to the high priest and possesses the authority to act in the power and place of the person of Christ himself. Christ is the source of all priesthood: the priest of the old law was a figure of Christ, and the priest of the new law acts in the person of Christ. #1548
Three Methods of Supporting Our Priests
What can we do to support our priests in these final weeks of Lent so that they too may be reborn at Easter?
Keep faith to the end
It’s time to redouble our Lenten efforts, renewing and, perhaps, re-establishing the commitments we made at the optimistic start.
It is never too late; it is never futile.
The Catholic Church, thanks be to Our Lord Jesus Christ, is founded upon redemption.
How does this support our priests? Because the Church is one, since we are all members of Christ crucified and risen. And because our priests relish the opportunity to be ministers of the redemption won by the Lord whom they represent.
So, let’s get to Confession.
Don’t waste an opportunity
If you have small children, start planning how you will participate in the beautiful, but long, liturgies from Palm (Passion) Sunday to Easter morning.
Holy Week happens but once a year. In addition to the standard rites, our priests often prepare ceremonies such as Tenebrae and the Divine Office.
Let’s support them by our prayerful presence.
Reverence Icons of Christ
Priests are living, breathing icons of Jesus Christ the Eternal High Priest.
I can’t remember ever kissing the consecrated hands of a priest. Regrettably, it is a practice that was once customary, but has fallen out of favour. It can only be a service to each other and the Church that we recognize Jesus in his ministerial priesthood.
Though popular culture pillories the priesthood, and aspects of the post-Vatican II Church seem to de-value its sacred identity, let us take priests to our hearts.
We cannot make it to the narrow gate without them.