Archive | May, 2011

The French, the Spanish, and the Marian

20 May

Week Two in Madrid brought with it two new projects for me in the Department of Communications for World Youth Day 2011. Most recently, I have been researching a few of the many titles and places in which Mary, Mother of God, is venerated in Spain. With the goal of eventual publication on the official World Youth Day website, http://www.madrid11.com, I have begun to write a series on these Spanish Marian devotions with the first article focusing on Madrid and this city’s patroness, the Virgin of Almudena (la Virgen de Almudena).

Construction of Madrid’s cathedral, El Catedral Santa María la Real de La Almudena (literally, The Cathedral of the Royal St. Mary of the Almudena), was begun in the late nineteenth century, interrupted by the Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939, and completed in 1993. In the same year, the cathedral of Madrid was consecrated by Pope John Paul II.

Santa María la Real de La Almudena also houses an iconic statue of its namesake. That statue has a fascinating mixture of history and legend behind it. An image of Mary was, according to legend, brought in about 40 AD/CE to Iberia, which has become contemporary Spain and Portugal, by the Apostle St. James the Greater, also a patron of Spain and of the famous pilgrimage, city, and cathedral Santiago de Compostela. Seven centuries later, the Moors invaded Iberia, and the statue was hidden for fear of its desecration in the wall of Madrid, then a small village in the shadow of Spain’s capital, Toledo. In 1085, after Christian troops under King Alfonso VI of Castile and León had re-taken Madrid, the Archbishop of Toledo ordered the statue of Mary found at the bidding of the villagers of Madrid. The task of finding la Virgen de Almudena, who is named after the Moorish granary (in Arabic, almudin) behind which the icon had been hidden, proved to be daunting. Then, again perhaps by way of a miracle or perhaps  according to legend, the wall hiding the image of Mary crumbled, revealing not only Our Lady but two candles, still burning three centuries after they were placed in the wall along with the statue.

The story of Our Lady of Almudena is not without controversy, even if it is to be considered mostly legendary. One must place it within the larger narrative of Spain’s history, which has included much conflict between people purportedly advancing the cause of several faith systems: in Spain, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism among them in Spain. Within Spain as beyond, religion has been used as a cover for violent conquest and warfare. Just as I cannot condone violence in the name of faith, which has been characterized especially by Benedict XVI (Deus Caritas Est, 1, 28, and Caritas in Veritate, 29) as opposed to reason itself, I believe that such violence ought not to be identified with any creed or with religious faith itself.

Religious faith in its true sense respects the freedom of religion of each person and of all people. With almost as much conviction as I have in the right to freedom of religion, I also take to heart what a relative once told me: Religion is not religion without a sense of humour. On that note, I should mention my second “new” project this week in the Department of Communications. While still searching for interesting stories from youth from around the world and their preparation for World Youth Day in August, I have been asked to focus my search especially on French-speaking countries and their young pilgrims.

Alors, oui, on travaille en Français ici à Madrid. Aux jeunes: On cherche vos histoires de comment vous préparez pour les Journées Mondiales de la Jeunesse ici en août. Cette semaine, j’ai été en communication avec plusieurs diocèses de France et du Canada, notamment le lieu de naissance du Curé d’Ars, Saint Jean Vianney, et le petit Vicariat du Territoire d’Outre-Mer de France près de la côte est du Canada, Saint Pierre et Miquelon. De ce dernier provient une petite blague religieuse qui a donné joie à notre pause café l’autre jour et qui satisfait aussi mon goût pour l’humour sur l’informatique (voir http://www.cheznoo.net/paroissecatholiqueSPM/humour/index_humour.html). Ma traduction en Anglais est suite à la version française originale.

Yes, we work in French here in Madrid. To the youth: We are searching for your stories about how you are preparing for World Youth Day here in August. This week, I was in communication with several dioceses of France and of Canada, notably the birthplace of the Curé d’Ars, St. John Vianney, and the small Vicariate of the French Overseas Territory off the East Coast of Canada, Saint Pierre et Miquelon. From the latter, I found a little religious joke that added joy to our coffee break the other day and that also satisfies my taste for computer-related humour (see http://www.cheznoo.net/paroissecatholiqueSPM/ humour/index_humour.html). My English translation follows the original French version.

1. Au commencement Dieu créa le bit et l’octet. Puis il créa le mot.

2. Et il y avait deux octets dans un mot; et rien d’autre n’existait. Et Dieu sépara le zéro et le un, et il vit que cela était bon.

3. Et Dieu dit: Que les données soient! Et ainsi cela fut. Et Dieu dit: Plaçons les données dans leurs lieux respectifs. Et il créa les disquettes, les disques durs et les disques compacts.

4. Et Dieu dit : Que soient les ordinateurs, pour qu’il y ait un lieu pour y mettre les disquettes, les disques durs et les disques compacts. Et Dieu créa les ordinateurs.

5. Mais le logiciel n’existait pas encore. Mais Dieu créa les programmes ; grands et petits… Et Dieu leur dit : allez et multipliez-vous, et remplissez toute la mémoire.

6. Et Dieu dit : je créerai le Programmeur ; et le Programmeur créera de nouveaux programmes et gouvernera les ordinateurs et les programmes et les données.

7. Et Dieu créa le Programmeur, et il le mit dans le centre de données ; Et Dieu montra au Programmeur le répertoire et il lui dit : tu peux utiliser tous les volumes et sous-répertoires, mais N’UTILISE PAS WINDOWS.

8. Et Dieu dit: ce n’est pas bon que le Programmeur soit seul. Il prit un os du corps du Programmeur et il en créa une créature qui regarderait le Programmeur; qui admirerait le Programmeur ; qui aimerait les choses faites par le Programmeur. Et Dieu nomma la créature “Utilisateur”.

9. Et il laissa le Programmeur et l’Utilisateur nus dans le DOS, et il vit que cela était bon.

10. Mais Bill Gates était la plus maligne de toutes les créatures de Dieu. Et Bill Gates dit à l’Utilisateur: Dieu t’a vraiment dit de ne pas utiliser TOUS les programmes?

11. Et l’Utilisateur répondit: Dieu nous a dit que nous pouvions utiliser n’importe quel programme et n’importe quel bloc de données, mais il nous a dit de ne pas utiliser Windows parce que nous pourrions mourir.

12. Et Bill dit à l’Utilisateur : Comment peux-tu parler de quelque chose que tu n’as même pas essayé ? Des que tu utiliseras Windows tu seras égal à Dieu. Tu seras capable de créer tout ce que tu voudras rien qu’en touchant la souris.

13. Et l’Utilisateur vit que les fruits de Windows étaient meilleurs et plus faciles à utiliser. Et l’Utilisateur vit que toute connaissance était inutile, puisque Windows pouvait la remplacer.

14. Et l’Utilisateur installa Windows dans son ordinateur; et il dit au Programmeur que cela était bon.

15. Et le Programmeur commença à chercher de nouveaux pilotes. Et Dieu lui dit: Que cherches-tu ? Et le Programmeur répondit: Je cherche de nouveaux pilotes, parce que je ne peux pas les trouver dans le DOS. Et Dieu dit: Qui t’a dit que tu avais besoin de nouveaux pilotes? Aurais-tu utilisé Windows, par exemple? Et le Programmeur dit: C’est Bill qui nous l’a dit…

16. Et Dieu dit à Bill: Pour ce que tu as fait, tu seras haï par toutes les créatures. Et l’Utilisateur sera toujours mécontent de toi. Et pire encore, tu
seras condamné à toujours vendre Windows.

17. Et Dieu dit à l’Utilisateur: Pour ce que tu as fait, le Windows te trompera et consommera toutes tes ressources; et tu ne pourras utiliser que de mauvais programmes que tu utiliseras dans la douleur et l’angoisse; et tu seras toujours sous la tutelle du Programmeur.

18. Et Dieu dit au Programmeur: Pour avoir écouté l’utilisateur tu ne seras jamais heureux. Tous tes programmes seront farcis d’erreurs et tu seras condamné à les corriger et les recorriger jusqu’à la fin des temps.

19. Et Dieu les expulsa tous du Centre de Données et il en bloqua la porte avec un mot de passe de 999 octets.

 1. In the beginning, God created the bit and the octet, and then he created the word.

2. And there were two octets to a word; and nothing else existed. And God separated the zero from the one, and he saw that it was good.

3. And God said, “Let there be data!” And so there was. And God said: “Let us put the data in their proper places. And he created diskettes, hard drives, and compact discs.

4. And God said: “Let there be computers, so that there might be a place to put the diskettes, the hard drives, and the compact discs. And God created computers.

5. But the network did not exist yet. But God created programs, great and small… And God said to them: Go forth and multiply, and fill all the memory.

6. And God said: “I will create the Programmer; and the programmer will create new programs that will give order to computers, programs, and data.

7. And God created the Programmer, and he placed him amid the data; And God showed the Programmer the system and said to him: “You may use all the volumes and sub-systems, but DO NOT USE WINDOWS.”

8. And God said: “It is not good that the Programmer should be alone.” He took a bone [Here the French word for bone is “os,” a pun not translatable into English on the Macintosh Operating System] from the body of the Programmer and he created a creature who would esteem the Programmer; who would admire the Programmer; who would love the things made by the Programmer. And God called the creature, “User.”

9. And he left the Programmer and the User naked in DOS [Disk Operating System, a kind of electronic Eden I suppose], and he saw that it was good.

10. But Bill Gates was the most cunning of all God’s creatures. And Bill Gates said to the User: “Did God really tell you not to use ALL the programs?”

11. And the User answered: “God told us that we could use whatever program and whatever block of data, but he told us not to use Windows, because we could die.”

12. And Bill said to the User: “How can you speak of something that you haven’t even tried? As soon as you use Windows you will be equal to God. You will be able to create everything you want at the touch of a mouse.”

13. And the User saw that the fruits of Windows were better and easier to use. And the User saw that all knowledge was useless, because Windows was able to replace it.

14. And the User installed Windows on his computer; and he said to the Programmer that it was good.

15. And the Programmer began to search for new drivers. And God said to him: “What are you searching for?” And the Programmer answered: “I am searching for new drivers, because I cannot find them in DOS.” And God said: “Who told you that you needed new drivers? Would you have used Windows, by any chance?” And the Programmer said: “It was Bill who told us that…”

16. And God said to Bill: “For what you have done, you will be hated by all creatures. And the User will always be unhappy with you. And worse yet, you will be condemned to sell Windows forever.”

17. And God said to the User: “For what you have done, Windows will trick you and consume all your resources; and you will only be able to use bad programs, which you will use in pain and anguish; and you will always be under the control of the Programmer.”

18. And God said to the Programmer: “For having listened to the User, you will never be happy. All your programs will be filled with errors, and you will be condemned to correct them and to re-correct them until the end of time.”

19. And God expelled them all from the Data Centre, and he blocked the gateway with a password 999 octets long.

From Madrid (De Madrid malencontreusement utilisant Windows; Desde Madrid, desafortunadamente usando Windows), using Windows, unfortunately: Warren Schmidt, CSB.

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Followers of the Way

13 May

Shortly before leaving Canada to spend this summer in Madrid preparing for World Youth Day 2011, I purchased Pope Benedict XVI’s second volume on the life of Jesus, entitled Jesus of Nazareth, Holy Week: From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection. Just two chapters into this book, I am drawn into it especially by the theme of pilgrimage present from Pope Benedict’s opening page. Reflecting upon Jesus’ entrance or “ascent” into Jerusalem, an ascent both geographical– Jesus’ journey took him from the Sea of Galilee, below sea level, to Jerusalem, ” on average 2 500 feet above sea level”– and in theological terms, as Jesus “set his face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51) with the express purpose of accepting death for our salvation, Pope Benedict characterizes our Lord’s definitive travel to the Holy City as a pilgrimage:

The Synoptics [the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke] contain just one Passover feast– that of the Cross and Resurrection; indeed, in Saint Luke’s Gospel, Jesus’ path is presented as a single pilgrim ascent from Galilee to Jerusalem (Jesus of Nazareth, Holy Week, 2).

Similarly, the “ascent” on Madrid to be made by potentially over one million youth in August is also a pilgrimage. World Youth Day, of course, cannot have the same salvific goal as the once-for-all pilgrimage made by our Saviour nearly two thousand years ago, but we volunteers in Madrid are preparing for a pilgrimage nonetheless. Youth will arrive en masse to welcome and to be welcomed by the Pope; by the Church hierarchy of Spain and from around the world; by the People of God; by one another. However, our main purpose remains to welcome Christ, Lord of youth– of the “little ones”– as the faithful of Jerusalem once did, receiving the Prince of Peace by lining his path with palm branches. As Pope Benedict writes, drawing upon Psalm 8:2 and the Palm Sunday motif,

From these “little ones,” praise will always come to him; from those able to see with pure and undivided hearts, from those who are open to [God’s] goodness (Jesus of Nazareth, Holy Week, 23). 

 With “pure and undivided hearts,” let us then welcome Christ, the God-man who, as the theme of World Youth Day 2005 in Cologne, Germany, in which I participated as a pilgrim,  reminds us, is always with us: Gott ist mit uns (Matt 1:23).

These related themes of welcoming God and of pilgrimage bring me to a last thought to integrate into this article: Much has been spoken in these last few days I have been in Madrid about the previous and only other time that Spain hosted World Youth Day, in Santiago de Compostela in August, 1989. Santiago de Compostela and its cathedral in honour of the Apostle St. James is the terminus of the famous Camino de Santiago de Compostela, whose main section originates in the French Pyrenées and is over seven hundred kilometres long. El Camino is a pilgrimage par excellence!

Christians at all times and in all places, from the Apostolic Age to the contemporary World Youth Day movement, must consider themselves to be on pilgrimage; our camino of life must be one of bringing before God the praise of his servants, the “little ones,” the youth. I end on this note, that the first Christians considered themselves to be on a camino, a pigrimage. They self-identified simply as “the Way.” We, like them, follow Jesus Christ, “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), as the very first paragraph of the Basilian Way of Life, my religious Congregation’s Constitution, quoted on the bookmark I am using as I read Pope Benedict’s book, attests:

The early Christians knew themselves as ‘followers of the Way’; they were instructed in the Way of the Lord. All Christian life must find its centre in Christ our Lord, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and the authentic teaching of the Gospel is the first and essential guide for anyone who wants to follow this way of life (Basilian Way of Life, no. 1).

Desde Madrid (from Madrid), Warren Schmidt, CSB.

First Full Day of Work toward World Youth Day in Madrid

12 May

¡Ya vamos! Here we go!

Today was the first full day of work for me, in the Department of Communications, and for a friend and university colleague with whom I travelled here and with whom I am living in Madrid, who is in the Department of Culture, in preparation for World Youth Day 2011 that will take place August 16-21. So far, I have been impressed by Madrid, from the helpfulness of our host family to the cleanliness, order, and expanse of Madrid’s metro system, to the climate– that said, we have yet to feel the brunt of the renowned Madrid summer heat– to the welcome we have received from fellow World Youth Day staff and volunteers.

My first day consisted of meetings and of e-mailing Canadian and American youth ministers from several parishes and dioceses. In establishing new contacts and following up on old ones with youth ministers and the youth that they serve, I am searching for stories from English-speaking youth who will be participating in this year’s “JMJ” (the Spanish acronym for World Youth Day, la Jornada Mundial de la Juventud) for web-based publication.

The Spanish work day begins and ends much later than the usual work day in Canada. Meal times are also longer and much later; with a fellow Canadian in Communications I concurred that for my Canadian stomach to get used to this it will take some time.

Warren Schmidt, desde Madrid (from Madrid) JMJ/WYD 2011.

Homily Assignment on Vatican II’s Decree on Priestly Formation, Optatam Totius

8 May

The following is the last of three assignments I submitted for my course entitled “Thought of Vatican II” at the University of St. Michael’s College, Toronto, ON Canada (MDiv Year II, Semester I, dated 7 December 2010). One of the options for this “integrative” assignment for those who foresee entering ordained ministry was to write a “homily,” taking into account one of the Decrees or Declarations (not one of the constitutions: Sacrosanctum Concilium, Dei Verbum, Lumen Gentium, or Gaudium et Spes)  of the Second Vatican Council as well as liturgical readings for the day on which the homily would be preached (It was not actually required to deliver the homily orally; only to write it). As I had presented earlier in this course on the Decree on Priestly Formation, Optatam Totius, my homily assignment focused on the same document. The original preface I wrote to explain the imagined liturgical setting and readings appears before the homily itself, and an appendix with the readings appears after it.

Preface

The liturgical setting of the following homily is a Mass of ordination to the presbyterate. In this homily assignment, I will correlate the core teachings of the Second Vatican Council’s Decree on Priestly Formation, Optatam Totius, with the Scriptural readings I have selected for this Mass.  The first reading, Isaiah 61:3a, focuses on the universal divine commission to serve persons most in need. The Gospel acclamation, Luke’s quotation from Isaiah 61:1, carries forward this notion of service into the Gospel reading, Luke 22:14-20, 24-30, which joins the imperative of humble service given by Jesus to his apostles and to their successors with the institution of the Eucharist. Likewise, Psalm 116:12-13, 17-18 and its responsorial verse, 1 Corinthians 10:16, relate the themes of service in God’s name an Eucharist as both communion– among human beings and between humankind and God– and thanksgiving for God’s goodness. The second reading, 1 Peter 5:1-4, applies the Christian obligation of humility specifically to presbyteral ministry; a presbyter is not to work for his own gain, but for the good of all among whom the presbyter ministers.

Homily

The Fathers of Vatican II were highly attentive toward the significance of formation for ordained priesthood and toward presbyteral ministry itself. Two Conciliar decrees, Optatam Totius and Presbyterorum Ordinis, focused on these respective subjects. Vatican II as a whole was primarily a council of renewal of the Catholic Church, a council at once of aggiornamento, or bringing the Church up to date, and of ressourcement, a return to sources– to tradition both Biblical and extra-Biblical, with a special esteem of the early Church Fathers– and ultimately to God. This need for renewal of the Church is acknowledged in the opening sentence of Optatam Totius, the Second Vatican Council’s Decree on Priestly Formation. This document begins by entrusting much of this ecclesial renewal to its priests and those who form men discerning the Sacrament of Orders. Optatam Totius declares: “This sacred Synod well knows that the wished-for renewal of the whole Church depends in large measure on a ministry of priests [that] is vitalized by the Spirit of Christ.”

The foundation of all priestly formation, then, is Christ, in whose priesthood the ordained participate. The priest is called, says Optatam Totius, to be vitalized, that is, enlivened, by the Spirit of Christ. In Christ’s Spirit– as our first reading from Isaiah puts it, “the Spirit of the LORD God”– the priest is anointed for service to God and to the Church, the people of God. During this very liturgy of priestly ordination, the priests, once vested with stole and chasuble, will be anointed with chrism on the palms of their hands. The Holy Spirit of Christ, begotten of the Father, is at this point called to rest upon the candidate for Orders, through the prayer from the Rite of Ordination that coincides with the anointing of hands: “The Father anointed our Lord Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. May Jesus preserve you to sanctify the Christian people and to offer sacrifice to God.” Together, the anointing with chrism of the hands of the newly ordained and this prayer recall the constant presence of the Holy Spirit among us. Not only in Holy Orders, but in our Baptism into the priesthood of the faithful, in Confirmation, and in the Anointing of the Sick recipients of these Sacraments are anointed with chrism. Thus, from our reception into the Church until our reception into the company of the saints in heaven, the Spirit of the Lord is upon us as God’s Spirit is on the prophets and upon Christ. In the Holy Spirit, “the Lord, the giver of life” (cf. the Nicene Creed), we are perpetually vitalized.

Renewed by the Spirit of the Lord, the Church and priesthood within it are by nature transcendent of earthly borders, such as those between nations, languages, cultures, and social classes, yet at the same time God shows preference toward the poor, the captives, and the oppressed. To these, Isaiah writes, he had been “anointed to bring good news… to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favour.” Jesus made Isaiah’s mission his own from the beginning of his ministry, as we have heard in today’s Gospel Acclamation. That verse is drawn from Luke who, uniquely among the Gospel authors, includes Jesus’ quotation from Isaiah 61 before the Synagogue assembly in Nazareth on the Sabbath. In Luke, this is Jesus’ first act of public ministry. Jesus begins, as had Isaiah before him, by announcing that he had been sealed by the Spirit to evangelize, to free those held captive by that which is not of God, to restore sight to the blind, and “to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favour.” We might recall that Jesus’ first act of prophecy, the words of Isaiah from the scroll, was well-received by his audience. However, for declaring that his message of reconciliation and of healing would extend to those most in need, whether Jews or Gentiles, Jesus draws the assembly’s rejection. Undeterred, Jesus continues his mission, as the concluding sentence of Luke 4 illustrates: “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose.”

The same proclamation of the kingdom of God for which Jesus was sent is also our purpose and our imperative in priestly ministry in Christ’s stead. An entire chapter of Optatam Totius is devoted to “matters [that] have a special bearing on the sacred ministry” of the presbyterate, namely those of pastoral service: “catechetics, preaching, liturgical worship, the conferral of the Sacraments, works of charity, [and] the duty of seeking out the straying sheep and unbelievers,” according to article nineteen of this decree. Not to be disconnected from the intellectual and spiritual formation for priesthood treated in previous chapters of Vatican II’s Decree on Priestly Formation, nonetheless “the promotion of strictly pastoral training” for priests-to-be is given a special place as the title of the sixth chapter of Optatam Totius. Without this pastoral dimension, the import of the Catholic priesthood and of priestly formation is minimized. As pastoral training is necessarily linked to intellectual and spiritual formation of clergy if priestly formation is to be considered holistic so, too, I go as far as to say that those pastoral services enumerated in article nineteen of Optatam Totius all ought to be understood as works of charity. Here I do not read into Optatam Totius a concept not in the document; the same article nineteen of this decree underscores the chief “qualities to be developed in seminarians,” such as promotion of dialogue, and “a capacity to listen to other people and to open their hearts in a spirit of charity to the various circumstances of human need.”

My emphasis on the pastoral aspect of the presbyterate and of priestly formation, and on all pastoral works as works of charity, comes from my experience as an associate of the religious community of priests to which I belong, the Basilian Fathers. I was sent early in my priestly formation to Cali, Colombia, to teach high school French and English and to learn Spanish. As I gradually learned not only a new language but a new culture, I noted that, in addition to abject poverty, most people of the Basilian school and parish had received little catechetical instruction. The mission of the Basilians in Cali, then, was at once to alleviate the material poverty of those whom we served, as well as to provide an education– often entirely subsidized– to these people in both religious and secular disciplines. From that, there developed a deep bond of love between the Basilians and the residents of our parish neighbourhood. This was impressed upon me one day when, as a community manual labour exercise, I was washing clay roofing shingles in our schoolyard. A poor man on the street approached the schoolyard gate and greeted me with a smile, “Hola, Padre”– “Hello, Father!” Not yet ordained at that time, I had difficulty then– and I still do– with being called “Father,” for the pastoral responsibility that this title denotes, yet if I were to be called Father, all my works, I prayed, would be acts of charity. My priesthood, modeled after that of Christ, would be pastoral by definition. Priesthood is an anointing to pastoral acts of charity, whether one is a parish priest, a high-school, university, or seminary instructor, a scholar; whether one is praying, in recreation, or is washing shingles in a schoolyard. Priesthood is pastoral charity, oriented toward the good of human community and finally toward God.

My appointment to Colombia increased my awareness that priesthood, as a ministry of ecclesial leadership in charity, takes into account both the universal Church and the local church.  At the same time, the universality– the catholicity– of the Church became more evident to me as did the particular needs of local churches, regions, and nations. I was sent from Edmonton to Cali, after only six months as a Basilian associate, the earliest stage of formation in our religious community. The differences between the two churches are remarkable; the relative affluence of Edmonton over Cali, the religious devotion inherent in Colombian culture, and the linguistic dissimilarity between the two places are but a few of these distinctions. Nonetheless, the same Mass is celebrated in both Edmonton and Cali; Edmontonian and Caleño Catholics belong to the same Church in communion with the See of Rome.

Regarding priestly formation in particular, Optatam Totius holds in tension the recognition of the necessities of local churches and of those of the universal Church. The decree begins with an accent on the former: “Since the variety of peoples is so great,” says article one of Optatam Totius, “only general rules,” such as the establishment of “Program[s] of Priestly Formation” by regional bishops’ conferences, “can be legislated.” In Optatam Totius’ next article, though, which begins its chapter on “the intensified encouragement of priestly vocations,” the document is clear that “the task of fostering vocations devolves on the whole Christian community.” The encouragement of vocations to ordained priesthood evidently begins at the local level– in homes, in schools, and in parishes– yet it extends universally. To those who will be ordained shortly: The best way to encourage vocations, not only to the priesthood but to the specific vocation to which God calls each Christian, is to live your own divine calling to Holy Orders joyfully. In today’s second reading, the author of 1 Peter acknowledges that his vocation as an elder– literally, a presbyter– is not easy. He is “a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as one who shares in the glory to be revealed.” Articles nine and ten of Optatam Totius echo this eschatological balance of 1 Peter of the “obligations” and even “hardship of the priestly life” with joy “in the blessedness promised by the Gospel” and by a “profound identification of” the priest’s entire life with that of Jesus Christ.

Priesthood, configured to Christ, is more than the power to confect the Eucharist, although this sacerdotal privilege is not unimportant. As per article eight of Optatam Totius, the priest must “be taught to look for Christ in many places: in faithful meditation on God’s word, in active communion with the holy mysteries of the Church… in the bishop” whom they assist, “the poor, the young, the sick, the sinful, and the unbelieving.” The Eucharist is only the beginning of Christian service; the priest who confects it for and receives it with the people of God must not, as today’s Gospel and second reading both affirm, “lord it over” those whom we serve as leaders. The Eucharistic feast must be united with and must give way to service. Moreover, as we heard in today’s Responsorial Psalm, the Eucharist, over which the priest presides, is at once an act of thanksgiving and one that draws human beings into ever-closer communion with one another and with God.

Let us pray, then, for the priestly candidates present before us here, and for all priests and those in formation for Holy Orders, that they might be joyful instruments of and participants in the priesthood of Christ. In this Eucharistic celebration we thank God for the gift of priests, “the hope of the Church,” as concludes Optatam Totius, and for those entrusted with their formation.

Appendix: Readings for Homily Assignment on Optatam Totius

Thought of Vatican II- SMT 3670 HF

Readings are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, selected according to The Rites of the Catholic Church, trans. The International Commission on English in the Liturgy (New York: Pueblo Publishing Co., 1980), 2:102-106.

First Reading: Isaiah 61:1-3a

1The spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
   because the Lord has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,
   to bind up the broken-hearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
   and release to the prisoners;
2to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour,
   and the day of vengeance of our God;
   to comfort all who mourn;
3to provide for those who mourn in Zion—
   to give them a garland instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
   the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 116:12-13, 17-18 (Response: 1 Corinthians 10:16)

12What shall I return to the Lord
   for all his bounty to me?
13I will lift up the cup of salvation
   and call on the name of the Lord

 R: Our blessing-cup is a communion with the blood of Christ.

17I will offer to you a thanksgiving sacrifice
   and call on the name of the Lord.
18I will pay my vows to the Lord
   in the presence of all his people. R.

Second Reading: 1 Peter 5:1-4

1Now as an elder myself and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as one who shares in the glory to be revealed, I exhort the elders among you 2to tend the flock of God that is in your charge, exercising the oversight, not under compulsion but willingly, as God would have you do it— not for sordid gain but eagerly. 3Do not lord it over those in your charge, but be examples to the flock. 4And when the chief shepherd appears, you will win the crown of glory that never fades away.

Gospel Acclamation (Luke 4:18-19)

 Alleluia.

 The Lord sent me to bring good news to the poor and freedom to prisoners.

 Alleluia.

Gospel Reading: Luke 22:14-20, 24-30

When the hour came, he took his place at the table, and the apostles with him. 15He said to them, ‘I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; 16for I tell you, I will not eat it* until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.’ 17Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he said, ‘Take this and divide it among yourselves; 18for I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.’ 19Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ 20And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.

24A dispute also arose among them as to which one of them was to be regarded as the greatest. 25But he said to them, ‘The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. 26But not so with you; rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves. 27For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. 28‘You are those who have stood by me in my trials; 29and I confer on you, just as my Father has conferred on me, a kingdom, 30so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.