Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Priest at Prayer, April 23

The Priest and the Eternal Truths
Esteem for the Priestly Vocation

First Meditation

God's Choice of Me

I have a vocation; that was the conviction which prompted me to become a priest, and allowed the door­keepers of the sanctuary to give me admission.

I have a vocation. God, the God who called each star in the vault of the sky by its own name, called me; He looked upon my lowliness; He made my inmost being ring with His irresistible Voice.

A vocation is "A disposition whereby Divine Provi­dence, in accordance with His Own Good Pleasure, chooses and reserves certain men for the work of His ministry, and bestows upon them the requisite qualities and graces."

Christ can therefore say to me what He said to the Apostles:
You have not chosen me; but I have chosen you. (John 15:16)

Peace be to you. As the Father hath sent me, I also send you. (John 20:21.)

Blessed be Thou, Lord, whose secret word sowed in my soul the seeds of my entire priestly life. Let them not perish. Let them bring forth full fruit in due season.

But, just for a moment, let us suppose that God did not really call me, that I stole my way into the sanctuary.

Whatever the facts, natural and human, or even sinful, that determined my submission to Holy Orders, I must agree that God alone can mark the center of my soul with His indelible Seal; only a Hand like His can probe so deep; only God, the one true Giver of the Sacraments, imprinted upon me - because such was His Good Pleasure - the sacramental seal or Character that makes me His Priest for ever.

I have every right then to adapt St. Paul's utter­ance : "I am a priest of Jesus Christ, by the Will of God."

My God, I bow to Thy sovereign Ordinance.
I will gladly exhibit this Seal of Thine.
May heaven and earth acknowledge it and exclaim:
"He is a priest of Christ!"

God's choice fell on me! Why?

My qualities of mind and character gave me no advantage over other men of my own age, place and condition. In God's eyes I was nothing more than the least of them. So many others would have been found with more talent, more drive for high endeavour, more balance and practical wisdom!

And with regard to innocence of life and capacity for virtue, frankly, I must confess, after tearing away the mask of self-conceit, that, with so many misdemeanours and evil habits staining my soul at the time of my presentation for Holy Orders, I deserved to become a vessel of wrath rather than a vessel of election.

The only merits and aptitudes I see in myself, O God, are the hidden designs of Thine incomprehensible Mercy!

Samuel the Prophet said certain words to young Saul which conveyed a hint of the royal dignity God had chosen him for; and Saul, a comely and daring youth, falls back with genuine astonishment and exclaims:
"Me? a man of Benjamin, the smallest of Israel's tribe? sprung from a clan that is named last among the clans of Benjamin? What means this greeting thou hast given me?" (1 Kings 9:21.)

And what shall I say, I who have been chosen by God Himself to be a friend and brother to my Lord Jesus Christ, dispenser of His Mysteries, voice of His doctrine and precepts, and almoner among men of His ineffable gifts?

Humbly prostrate before the Divine Majesty, I shall often consider myself unworthy of His baffling choice of me. Well might the faithful say of me what was said of Saul by his fellow countrymen:
"Can such a man as this bring us victory?" (1 Kings 10:27)
Adapted from The Priest at Prayer
by Fr. Eugenio Escribano, C.M. (© 1954)
Translated by B.T. Buckley, C.M.

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