In the evening of the Feast of the Sacred Heart, Cardinal Pell ordained six men to the priesthood in St Mary's Cathedral, Sydney. What a wonderful way to bring to a close the Year for Priests, and what a wonderful feast on which to be ordained a priest. The photo above was taken at the beginning of the Ordination Rite; the Cardinal is sitting on a faldstool in front of the altar. A huge number of priests took part in the Mass, filling both the Choir and the Chancel. The photo below was taken as the Cardinal blessed incense at the Offertory.
This Year has been an unexpected grace for the Church and especially for priests - a Year of renewal, confirming us in our configuration to Christ. How beautiful was the Holy Father's sermon at St Peter's yesterday for the Mass of the Sacred Heart, in which he emphasised the movements, affections and desires of Christ's heart, the source of grace and experienced in the Mass. Out of this heart has flowed the vocation and mission of all priests. Priests are a gift of grace to the Church and to the world because Christ has willed them; they are a part of Him, He has fashioned us in His heart.
He speaks about Mass as a doorway into Christ's heart. I love this; there is a whole spirituality, a whole life to be discovered and lived here when we approach the Mass in this way:
For me, the Year for Priests has coincided with my unexpected move to Sydney where I have really felt my priestly ministry being embraced and draw out out of me by the Church here. The high point of the Year for me was in February this year when I gave an eight day Retreat to the Seminarians. I hope that this Retreat powerfully influenced them, because it has powerfully influenced me in my priestly life and spirituality. The fact that I do not live on my own in Sydney but with other priests - priests who are really seeking to live their priesthood at the heart of the Church - has also been a huge grace for me.We are celebrating the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and in the liturgy we peer, as it were, into the heart of Jesus opened in death by the spear of the Roman soldier. Jesus’ heart was indeed opened for us and before us – and thus God’s own heart was opened. The liturgy interprets for us the language of Jesus’ heart, which tells us above all that God is the shepherd of mankind, and so it reveals to us Jesus’ priesthood, which is rooted deep within his heart; so too it shows us the perennial foundation and the effective criterion of all priestly ministry, which must always be anchored in the heart of Jesus and lived out from that starting-point.
What a wonderful grace it is to be a priest. What a wonderful thing it is that the Church ordains men to the Priesthood. How wonderful it is that Christ's heart has been opened up and that the riches of His love and His desires for mankind can be experienced in the Eucharist. How wonderful it is that He wishes to share His Priesthood with so many men. How wonderful it is that the priest is a gift of grace to the Church and to the world!