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Vol. I, Aug. 1995

 

Priests: "Sacramental Representatives" of Christ

Dear Brothers in the Priesthood!

1. This month is illuminated by the splendor of the GLORY OF GOD. We celebrate the feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord before the Apostles. St Peter as an eyewitness of this event relates: "He received honor and glory from GOD the FATHER and the voice was borne to Him by the Majestic Glory, 'This is My beloved SON, with whom I am well pleased'" (2Pet 1:17). Even His Holy Body and His vestments shared in this splendor: All things partake of His glory.

Nine days later we commemorate the glory of Our Heavenly Mother: Our Lady is assumed body and soul into heaven amidst the praise of the whole heavenly host, the divine court! "The Virgin Mary is exalted high above the choirs of angels; let all the faithful rejoice and bless the Lord" (2nd Ant. of Lauds). "O how beautiful and splendid is the Virgin Mary who passes from this world to Christ. Amidst the choirs of saints she shines like the sun in heavenly power. The angels rejoice, the archangels exult in the Virgin Mary" (1st Resp. in the Office of Readings). We are invited to join in the praise of her glory: "Henceforth all generations will call me blessed, for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name" (Lk 1:48-49). Just seven days later we are lead further into this mystery with the celebration of Mary's Queenship. We sing with the psalmist: "At Your right hand stands the Queen in fold of Ophir" (Ps 45:10; entrance ant). and the Holy church invites us to pray: "With the support of her prayers may we come to share the glory of Your children in the kingdom of heaven" (Opening prayer).

2 As it is with Christ, as it is with Mary, so God also wants it to be with us. When the heavenly kingdom arrives everything will be transformed into glory: "Behold, I make all things new… They shall bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean shall enter it, nor any one who practices abomination or falsehood" (Rev 21:5.26-27).

The Holy Angels will also bear witness to this, as our Lord has revealed: "Whoever is ashamed of Me and My works, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when He comes in His glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels" (Lk 9:26).

The holy angels behold the splendor of God; their beatitude consists exclusively in contemplating the Glory of the Most High! Standing in the presence of God, they are filled with holy fear and reverence before his Majestic Omnipotence, such that they will not pardon our transgression because of God's holy name (cf. Ex 23:21 and Lk 1:19ss).

The holy angels desire to instruct us in the need for purity and reverence before God, as is manifested in the encounter of the Seraphim with the prophet Isaiah (cf. Is 6:1-7). All their zeal is directed to the holiness, honor and glory of God, the Lord of all creation.

3. How ought it to be with us, Christ's chosen priests and servants of the New Covenant, the "sacramental representatives" of Christ? If the face of Moses, the servant of the law carved on letters of stone, was already so radiant that the people of the Old Covenant could not look upon it because of its brightness, how much more should our face radiate the splendor of Him with whom we are united by sacramental consecration? Are we not called to be - like the holy angels - always with Him, in His presence (cf. Mk 3:14; Jn 1:39; 17:24)? Does He not give Himself to us every day in His Sacred Body and Blood, that He might abide in us (cf. Jn 6:56)? In fact, should not we priests be SERVANTS OF HIS GLORY and become, like the holy angels, "flames of (the divine) fire" (Heb 1:7)? Ought not 'flashes of lightning" come forth from us, standing at the altar or preaching at the pulpit, as if from the throne of God (cf. Rev 4:5)?

"If the dispensation of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such splendor that the Israelites could not look at Moses' face because of its brightness, fading as this was, will not the dispensation of the Spirit be attended with greater splendor? For if there was splendor in the dispensation of condemnation , the dispensation of righteousness must far exceed it in splendor? Indeed, in this case, what once had splendor has come to have no splendor at all, because of the splendor that surpasses it. For if what faded away came with splendor, what is permanent must have much more splendor" (2 Cor 3:7-11).

4. The world is full of darkness and it is constantly hearing of war and violence, deception and death! We ought to speak not so much about the world and material things which moth and rust consume and thieves break in and steal, nor only of judgement, punishment and the end of the world, for "you gain more bees with one spoon of honey than with a barrel full of vinegar" (St. Francis de Sales)! Ought we not be messengers of peace and mercy, joy and life, all grounded in the one who is the truth and the singular source of beatitude for all creatures? Naturally, we must first put ourselves in the presence of God; we ourselves must first become prisoners of the Divine Love! We must unite ourselves to the angels in the contemplation of the Divine Beauty before we can show it to the world! We must allow Christ to transform us totally, so that we are "radically and completely immersed in the Mystery of Christ" and so that "the life and the ministry of the priest become a continuation of the life and activity of Christ Himself" (Pastores Dabo Vobis, 18). Everything in us and about us should preach Christ in His glory which he shares with the Father! Let us look to the glorified Christ for the norm of our lives. Is there anything in my life that does not give testimony of him? Does my life proclaim to the people this eternal glory and happiness? Do I give people the impression that Christ is in fact the real source of our happiness? Or does my life tell people that we need many material things in order to be happy? How many useless things still occupy my attention and hinder me on my way? Does my life give testimony to God and His Glory like Moses did, like the holy angels do? Does all my thinking and planning derive from a zeal for God and the things of God as was the case with Christ (cf. Jn 2:17).

Let us pray for each other, that the graces of this month, the intercession of Our Heavenly Mother, the help and guidance of the holy angels, bring us nearer to this "our identity, our true dignity, the source of our job, the very basis of our life" (Pastores Davo Vobis 18).

Fr. Titus Kieninger, ORC