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Shepherds of Christ

A Spirituality Newsletter for Priests

July/August 1997

CONTENTS


Chief Shepherd of the Flock

The Gift of the Eucharist

"I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd is one who lays down his life for his sheep. The hired man, since he is not the shepherd and the sheep do not belong to him, abandons the sheep and runs away as soon as he sees a wolf coming, and then the wolf attacks and scatters the sheep; this is because he is only a hired man and has no concern for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for my sheep." (Jn 10:11-151)

A faithful shepherd takes care of his sheep in all their needs. This includes providing them with the proper food. Jesus, the perfect Shepherd, abundantly provides for the nourishment of His flock. In the Eucharist He gives Himself in His body, blood, soul and divinity for our spiritual growth. He also feeds us through His word, through His teaching. The gospel of John, in Chapter 6:35-59 combines both of these ways-Christ nourishing us through His teaching and through the Eucharist. This particular section of John's gospel gives us Jesus' great discourse on the Bread of Life. The first part, verses 35-50, speaks of the teaching of Jesus as nourishment, as the bread of life. This first part contains, therefore, the so-called sapiential theme. The second part, verses 51-59, speaks of the Eucharist as our heavenly nourishment. This part, therefore, contains the sacramental theme. The Mass, of course, contains both aspects of John's Bread of Life theme. In the Mass we have the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist-and they are profoundly connected.

Both aspects of the Bread of Life theme reveal God's tremendous love for us. The Eucharist is the sacrament of Jesus' great love for us, and His teaching is summed up in terms of love-God's overwhelming love for us and our duty to love God and neighbor. Each day we should pray for an increased realization of how much God, in Christ Jesus Our Lord, loves each of us with a most special, unique love. Growing in this awareness and living according to this awareness are keys to growth in the spiritual life. The more we are convinced of how much Jesus loves us as unique individuals, the more able are we to enter into a deep love relationship with Jesus. And, if we have the proper love relationship with Jesus, everything else falls into place. Yes, as our union with Jesus grows, He leads us, amid all the pain and all the joy, to an ever closer union with the Father in the Holy Spirit with Mary, our Mother, at our side.


Thoughts on the Eucharist


Scriptural Reflections


Priests' Need for Spirituality

        The following words are from a paper prepared by Fr. Stephen J. Rossetti for the National Conference of Catholic Bishop's Committee on Priestly Life and Ministry. This paper was later published in the quarterly Human Development, from which we quote. Fr. Rossetti is president and chief executive officer of Saint Luke Institute in Silver Spring, Maryland. We here quote from various sections of his paper:


Words of St. Augustine

Augustine, one of the greatest intellects in the history of the Church, was also a man of deep feeling, of deep passion. After his conversion, his passionate nature was turned from a life of sin to a life of marvelous dedication to Christ. He is an outstanding example of how the human emotions, human feelings, are to be used in the service of God. There follow excerpts from some of Augustine's writings.


This Friend Jesus

Here are words from St. Claude de la Columbiere, one of the great apostles of devotion to the Heart of Christ. Speaking to Jesus, Claude says:

You share my burdens,
You take them upon yourself.
You listen to me fondly when I tell you my troubles.
You never fail to lighten them.
I find You at all times and in all places.
You never leave me.
I will always find You wherever I go.
Old age or misfortune will not cause You to abandon me.
You will never be closer to me than
When all seems to go against me.
No matter how miserable I may be,
You will never cease to be my friend.
You tolerate my faults with admirable patience.
You are always ready to come to me, if I so desire it.
Jesus, may I die praising you!
May I die loving you!
May I die for the love of you.12


St. Bernard's Tribute to Mary

Bernard, saint and doctor of the Church, and one greatly devoted to Mary, offers us these inspiring words:

"If you will not be submerged by tempests, do not turn away your eyes from the splendor of this star. If the storms of temptation arise, if you crash against the rocks of tribulation, look to the star, call upon Mary. If you are tossed about on the waves of pride, of ambition, of slander, of hostility, look to the star, call upon Mary. If wrath or avarice or the enticements of the flesh upset the boat of your mind, look to Mary. If you are disturbed by the immensity of your crimes'if you begin to be swallowed up by the abyss of depression and despair, think of Mary! In danger, in anxieties, in doubt, think of Mary, call upon Mary. Let her name not leave your lips, nor your heart, and that you may receive the help of her prayer, do not cease to follow the example of her conduct'If she holds you, you will not fall, if she protects you, you need not fear."13


Prayer

Our growth according to Jesus' pattern of death-resurrection is impossible without a life of prayer. Growth in prayer not only increases our love of God, but also enhances our loving concern for others.

A great example of this is seen in the study of the prayer life of Catherine of Sienna, saint and doctor of the Church. Sr. Mary O'Driscolll, O.P., tells us:

"Twenty-six of Catherine of Sienna's prayers have been preserved for us. With one possible exception, they are not prayers that she herself wrote or even dictated to others. Rather, they were transcribed by her followers who were present as she prayed aloud. All of these prayers belong to the last four years of her life. They impress us by their simplicity, their intense concentration on God, who is repeatedly praised and thanked, and their constant desire for the salvation of others'

"As her prayers make evident, Catherine of Sienna was a great intercessor. In them we find her pleading with God persistently and urgently for mercy for all the world, the Church, the pope, her friends and followers, all in need. It is obvious that she doe not regard intercession as merely a passing prayer to God on behalf of one or other persons in time of crisis, but rather as an expression of her deep, loving, permanent commitment both to God and to her neighbors. In Catherine's own life, the importance and intensity of her intercession increased according as her union with God and her concern for others increased. This observation tells us something very significant about the prayer of intercession in the Christian life, namely, that it is not, as is sometimes thought, a type of prayer which one passes on the way to the heights of mystical prayer, as though intercession were for beginners and mysticism for those who are advanced in the spiritual life, but as a type of prayer which belongs most particularly to the life of contemplative union with God." 14


Act of Consecration

Lord Jesus, Chief Shepherd of the Flock, I consecrate my priestly life to Your Heart, pierced on Calvary for love of us. From Your pierced Heart the Church was born, the Church You have called me, as a priest to serve in a most special way. You reveal Your Heart as symbol of Your love in all its aspects, including Your most special love for me, whom You have chosen as Your priest-companion. Help me always to pour out my life in love of God and neighbor. Heart of Jesus, I place my trust in You!

Dear Blessed Virgin Mary, I consecrate myself to your maternal and Immaculate heart, this Heart which is symbol of your life of love. You are the Mother of my Savior and you are also my Mother. You love me with the most special love as this unique priest-son. In a return of love I give myself entirely to your motherly love and protection. You followed Jesus perfectly. You are His first and perfect disciple. Teach me to imitate you in the putting on of Christ. Be my motherly intercessor so that, through your Immaculate Heart, I may be guided to an ever closer union with the pierced Heart of Jesus, Chief Shepherd of the Flock, who leads me to the Father in the Holy Spirit.


Letters

We thank all those who have taken the time to write to us. We very much appreciate your letters. Space limitations permit us to publish only a few of these.

Dear Rev. Fr. Ed Carter, S.J.,
        Thank you very much for providing us with rich spiritual literature.
        The Shepherds of Christ Newsletter has been very useful to us and I have received positive response from a good number of priests. Thank you for the good work and we shall be happy if you continue sending them to us.

Fr. John Bazimenyera, St. Augustine's Institute, Kampala, Uganda.


Dear Fr. Carter,
        It took me such a long time to answer your letter of over a month ago. I am sorry for this delay. I have just received your issue of SHEPHERDS OF CHRIST for March/April 1997 for which I heartily thank you. I have already distributed quite a lot to our Gozitan priests, and they want to thank you as they find your newsletter very enriching spiritually. I am sending some copies to the Seminarians in Malta and to other priests there.
        By the way, I have some good news for you, I think. A little over a month ago His Lordship, the bishop of Baton Rouge was our guest at Manresa Retreat House. He came over to visit the families of three Gozitan priests who work in his diocese. I have introduced the SHEPHERDS OF CHRIST newsletter to him, which he appreciated greatly. I also passed over some copies to the Spiritual Father of the American College in Rome who was accompanying His Lordship.

God bless you with His love and peace. Rev. Joseph M. Galdes, S.J., Gozo, Malta.


NOTES:

  1. Scriptural quotations are taken from The Jerusalem Bible, Doubleday & Co.
  2. The Liturgy Documents, "The 1967 Instruction on Eucharistic Worship", Liturgy Training Program, Archdiocese of Chicago, pp 37-41.
  3. Fr. Edward Leen, C.S..Sp., In the Likeness of Christ, Sheed and Ward, pp. 250-252..
  4. St. Thomas Aquinas, as in The Liturgy of the Hours, Catholic Book Publishing Co., Vol III, pp. 610-611.
  5. Through the Year with Fulton Sheen, compiled by Henry Dietrich, Servant Books, p. 15.
  6. Henri Nouwen, With Burning Hearts, Orbis, p. 30..
  7. St. Peter Julian Eymard, The Real Presence: Eucharistic Meditations, published by Eymard League, as in The Treasury of Catholic Wisdom, Fr. John Hardin, S.J. ed., Ignatius Press, p. 584.
  8. Fr. Stephen J. Rossetti, "Spirituality of the Priesthood" as in Human Development, Vol 18. No. 1, Spring, 1997, pp. 26-32.
  9. Confessions of St. Augustine, translated by John K. Ryan, Doubleday & Co., as found in The Treasury of Catholic Wisdom, op. cit., p. 128
  10. St. Augustine, as in the Liturgy of the Hours, op. cit., Vol III, p. 1967.
  11. Ibid., p. 273.
  12. St. Claude de la Columbiere, as published by Apostleship of Prayer, Detroit Province of the Society of Jesus.
  13. St. Bernard, as in Hilda Graef, Mary: A History of Doctrine and Devotion, Christian Classics, Vol I., p. 237.
  14. Catherine of Sienna, Selective Writings, ed, Mary O'Driscoll, O.P., New City Press, p. 50..

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JULY/AUGUST 1997 ISSUE
Shepherds of Christ

Shepherds of Christ Ministries
P.O. Box 193
Morrow, Ohio 45152-0193
U.S.A.

Shepherds of Christ, a spirituality newsletter for priests, is published bi-monthly by Shepherds of Christ Ministries, P.O. Box 193, Morrow, Ohio 45152-0193. While distribution is free of charge to all priests in the U.S., and growing internationally, donations are still very much appreciated. Inquiries and comments are welcome, as are address changes and addresses of the newly ordained. Permission to reproduce intact is granted for non-commercial use. Editor Father Edward Carter S.J. is Professor of Theology at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. John Weickert is President. Good Shepherd illustration is by Brother Jerome Pryor, S.J. Layout and design are by Cathy Ring. Also dedicated to the spiritual advancement of priests is a worldwide network of lay/religious prayer chapters, Shepherds of Christ Associates, headquartered at 2919 Shawhan Road, Morrow, Ohio 45152, telephone toll free 1-888-211-3041, fax 513-932-6791.


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