As I mentioned in my Tweet this morning during May and June we celebrate the ordination anniversaries of a lot of our priests. Like wedding anniversaries these milestones for our priests are a time to reflect on the joys and the challenges of living the priestly commitment.
I tend to have a habit that a lot of us have. I often tell people how blessed I am as the Bishop of Tyler to have a presbyterate (another name for the group of brother priests in a diocese) that is full of men who are dedicated to the Lord and to the Catholic community that He established. I should tell the priests more often individually and as a group of brothers that I do appreciate their dedication
I specifically highlight the qualities I mentioned above because as Catholic priests our commitment to the Lord goes hand in hand with our commitment to His Church. Through the ages the Church has honored the early disciples who were committed to the Lord, many of them to the point of being martyred and literally giving their lives for the Lord and His Church. Clearly the commitment to our Lord Jesus Christ is the foundation stone of our priestly lives and a deep relationship with Him in a very personal way is essential to living a joyful and effective priestly life. Our commitment to His Church is always in the context of our intimate relationship with Jesus Christ and as we listen to His words and follow His teachings we are always challenged to purify and strengthen His Church.
I have always had a great admiration for St. Francis because he was as much a reformer of the Church as Martin Luther was but his reform flowed from his deep commitment to Jesus Christ and to "rebuilding His Church". We have to be careful that the mistakes of one like Luther do not dampen our desire for constant reform of the Church. Certainly through history and today this spirit of reform has called for great strength as it does for Pope Francis. Pope Francis constantly reminds us that we must seek to reform our own lives and the life of the Church not in order to make it Holy but because the Church is Holy as the Lord has promised the Church will be until the end of time.
I suppose I would frame all of this in terms of our own individual journeys of faith. As priests and faithful we are daily called to "turn from sin and be faithful to the Gospel," as we seek this reform in our personal lives it naturally flows into seeking to help the Church be more and more the bride of Christ that She is called to be.
"Ad multos anos" to my brothers celebrating anniversaries during these weeks.
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