RE for Monday 19th October 2020
LEARNING FOCUS 2: The Vocation of the Priest
Some people’s vocation is to marriage or the single life or to the religious life. Some people’s vocation is to become a priest. A priest chooses to follow Jesus in the service of others in the Church. This is his response to God’s call to a life lived with love for God’s people. The apostles were called by Jesus to follow him and, in response, they left everything to be with him. This is also true of every Christian and is especially true of the call to be a priest.
When a man feels that God is calling him to be a priest, he will need to pray about this and to seek advice from the Vocation’s Director of his diocese. The Vocation’s Director is an experienced priest who helps men discern (recognise) what God’s call is for them. He will assess the man to see if he is serious about the choice and suitable for taking on such a responsibility.
If the man still feels that God is calling him, he will need to apply and to be accepted by the bishop of the diocese. If he is accepted, then he will begin many years of training in a seminary. During this time, he will have the opportunity to pray, learn more about his Faith, how to celebrate the Sacraments, communicate the Good News and have experience of living and serving in the parish community. At the end of the training, diocesan priests make promises of celibacy and obedience to their bishop. They do not make a vow of poverty, but they do try to live simply so they can be of service to God’s people ‘The priest is God’s messenger to His people. He wants to lead them to God.’ (Benedict XVI)
Saint John Mary Vianney, was born in France in 1786. He was a farm labourer. He was someone who really loved God and was kind to everyone. He did not have much education. He very much wanted to follow Jesus Christ as a priest. He failed his first exam for entrance into the seminary, but managed to get in when he tried again. He found the studies quite difficult, but he was a holy person and he tried very hard. Eventually, he was ordained and sent to the parish of Ars, in a village in France. His bishop thought he would be alright in that quiet parish.
The people in the parish loved him. He was a simple, holy person who was very close to God. He had a special gift of being able to help people who were worried or troubled. The parishioners loved going to Confession to him because he was so kind and gentle, and helped them to know God better and they were assured of God’s love for them. He spent many hours listening to people’s confessions and giving them absolution. When John Mary Vianney preached at Mass the people listened carefully. It was in a simple language, full of pictures and stories from everyday life and country scenes, but full of faith and love of God.
He realised that it was important for children to come to know and love God. He taught the children how to pray. He said, ‘to pray and to love is the greatest happiness there is.’
His teaching was so popular that adults wanted to hear his teaching too.
Saint John Mary Vianney, usually called the Curé d’ Ars, was made a saint in 1925, because he was a man who witnessed to God’s love by his life. He is the patron saint of priests.
SOME KEY QUESTIONS
SOME SUGGESTED ACTIVITIES
RE for Thursday 22nd October
LEARNING FOCUS 3: The Sacrament of Ordination
At the end of his training, if the man is still committed to being a priest and is sure God is calling him to this life and if his bishop accepts him, he will be ordained – that is he receives the sacrament of Holy Orders or Ordination. This sacrament is celebrated during Mass and it is the bishop who ordains. The man being ordained is called an ‘ordinand’. The ordinand’s family and friends gather for the celebration. After the Gospel and homily, the ordinand is called forward from the parish family to stand in front of the bishop who asks him if he has freely chosen to be ordained and will promise to be a good and faithful priest. The ordinand lies flat on the ground in front of the altar while the Litany of the Saints is sung.
The bishop lays his hands on the head of the ordinand and prays the prayer of consecration (a prayer asking God to bless and make holy the ordinand, to help him be a faithful witness and co-worker with the bishop.) The man is now ordained as a priest. The newly ordained priest receives his stole, (the garment that goes round his neck) and the chasuble, which is the top coloured vestment worn for the celebration of Mass. The bishop anoints the priest’s hands with the Oil of Chrism to make them holy. He is given a paten with a host on it and a chalice with wine in it. The bishop says, ‘Accept from the holy people of God, the gifts to be offered to him’.
The bishop and all the other priests present give the new priest a sign of peace to welcome and congratulate him. The newly ordained priest is now prepared to serve the family of God in the parish to which the bishop has appointed him.
SOME KEY QUESTIONS
Look the prayer of consecration from the ordination:
Come to our help, Lord, Holy Father, almighty and eternal God; you are the source of every honor and dignity, of all progress and stability.
You watch over the growing family of man by your gift of wisdom and your pattern of order. When you had appointed high priests to rule your people, you chose other men next to them in rank and dignity to be with them and to help them in their task; and so there grew up the ranks of priests and the offices of Levites, established by sacred rites.
In the desert you extended the spirit of Moses to seventy wise men who helped him to rule the great company of his people. You shared among the sons of Aaron the fullness of their father's power, to provide worthy priests in sufficient number for the increasing rites of sacrifice and worship. With the same loving care you gave companions to your Son's apostles to help in teaching the faith: they preached the gospel to the whole world.
Lord, grant also to us such fellow workers, for we are weak and our need is greater.
Almighty Father, grant to this servant of your the dignity of the priesthood. Renew within him the Spirit of holiness.
As a co-worker with the order of bishops may he be faithful to the ministry that he receives from you, Lord God, and be to others a model of right conduct.
May he be faithful in working with the order of bishops, so that the words of the Gospel may reach the ends of the earth, and the family of nations, made one in Christ, may become God's one, holy people.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
Use this prayer to answer the following questions: