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Shepherds of Christ

A Spirituality Newsletter for Priests

January/February 1997


Chief Shepherd of the Flock

Christ and the World

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)

In laying down his life for His sheep, Jesus, the Good Shepherd, has established a new world order. Indeed, Christ is King of the universe, and all creation possesses its true meaning only in Him. St. Paul tells us:

"He is the image of the unseen God
and the first-born of all creation,
for in him were created
all things in heaven and on earth:
everything visible and everything invisible,
Thrones, Dominations, Sovereignties, Powers-
all things were created through him and for him.
Before anything was created, he existed,
and he holds all things in unity.
Now the Church is his body,
he is its head.
As he is the Beginning,
he was first to be born from the dead,
so that he should be first in every way;
because God wanted all perfection
to be found in him
and all things to be reconciled through him and for him,
everything in heaven and everything on earth,
when he made peace
by his death on the cross." (Col 1:15-20)

Because the world belongs to Christ, we must love the world, the world as created and redeemed by God. We, who proclaim to be followers of Christ, must tirelessly labor so that the Christic image of the world may more and more manifest itself.
Vatican II reminds us that we have an awesome responsibility regarding the world. The Council tells us that Christ in His paschal mystery has entered into the world's history, has taken this history to Himself, and has summarized it: "For God's Word, through whom all things were made, was Himself made flesh and dwelt on the earth of men. Thus He entered the world's history as a perfect man, taking that history into Himself and summarizing it. He Himself revealed to us that 'God is love' (1 Jn 4:8).

"At the same time He taught us that the new command of love is the basic law of human perfection and hence of the world's transformation.

"To those, therefore, who believe in divine love, He gives assurance that the way of love lies open to all men and that the effort to establish a universal brotherhood is not a hopeless one. He cautions them at the same time that this love is not something to be reserved for important matters, but must be pursued chiefly in the ordinary circumstances of life.

"Undergoing death itself for all of us sinners, He taught us by example that we too must shoulder that cross which the world and the flesh inflect upon those who search after peace and justice. Appointed Lord by His resurrection and given plenary power in heaven and on earth, Christ is now at work in the hearts of men through the energy of His Spirit. He arouses not only a desire for the age to come, but, by that very fact, He animates, purifies, and strengthens those noble longings by which the human family strives to make its life more human and to render the whole earth submissive to the goal.

"Now, the gifts of the Spirit are diverse. He calls some to give clear witness to the desire for a heavenly home and to keep that desire green among the human family. He summons others to dedicate themselves to the earthly service of men and to make ready the material of the celestial realm by this ministry of theirs. Yet He frees all of them so that by putting aside love of self and bringing all earthly resources into the service of human life they can devote themselves to that future when humanity itself will become an offering accepted by God.

"The Lord left behind a pledge of this hope and strength for life's journey in that sacrament of faith where natural elements refined by man are changed into His glorified Body and Blood, providing a meal of brotherly solidarity and a foretaste of the heavenly banquet."2

As we labor with Christ in helping to bring the work of creation and redemption to completion, we should not become discouraged by the fact that mankind and the temporal order seem to be less Christian than they were previously. We should not be disheartened in our efforts for Christ because of the possibility that official Christianity might become less influential in today's world.

Although we see these and other signs that seem to portend increasingly difficult times for Christianity, let us not become discouraged. We must realize that there is an external and obvious manifestation of Christianity in the world, and there is a hidden or anonymous dimension. Men and women who are not publicly professed Christians can be coming closer to Christ without actually realizing it. In fact, the entire temporal order can progress in its Christianization process in a very quiet and hidden way, so quiet and so hidden that even we Christians can hardly recognize what is actually happening.

There is only one world order, and it has been established in Christ. Every person is offered salvation, but this is Christic grace, Christic salvation. The entire temporal order comes under this Christic influence. If there is to be the authentic progress of this temporal order, it must be a progress in Christ. The Christic influence, then, reaches out and touches every human person, every authentic, human value. Regardless of how many persons realize what is happening in Christ to themselves and to the entire world order, it is definitely happening. Consequently, our Christ-oriented efforts for the human family are really effective, even though they are so hidden and mysterious at times.

We each contribute to the shaping of a better world according to a variety of circumstances. The young, for example, contribute their enthusiasm. The elderly contribute their mellowed wisdom. The conservatives contribute their concern for timeless values. The progressives contribute their penchant for change and adaptation to contemporary exigencies. Some work within the confines of a clean and quiet office. Others work amid circumstances charged with potential explosiveness. Some perform while receiving the attention of the public eye. Others perform in hidden ordinariness. Some must fight the boredom that routine work tends to generate. Others must maintain high-level awareness amid the dangers of high-risk occupations. Whatever the task and its circumstances might be, however, the imperative is the same for all of us, namely, to be where God wants us to be striving to do His will in all things out of love for God and neighbor. Only in this way can we contribute to the growth of the world order in Christ.

Scriptural Reflections

Thoughts on the Eucharist

St. John Vianney and Priestly Prayer

The Curé of Ars, St. John Vianney, has some very direct words for us priests concerning prayer: "What keeps us priests back from the attainment of holiness is lack of consideration. It displeases us to withdraw our minds from outside things. We have need of intimate reflection, continuous prayer and intimate union with God."11

The Hidden Life of Jesus

Much of our lives has a "hidden" dimension, just as did that of Jesus during those many years at Nazareth. Fr. Edward Leen, C.S.Sp., gives us these comforting and inspiring words concerning this aspect of our Savior's life: "It is quite true to say that it is by the cross and passion of Jesus that we are redeemed. The faith teaches that it is by the death of the Saviour on the cross that to men has been restored the dignity of the divine adoption and that from Satan has been wrested his usurped princedom of the world. But it would be a mistake to consider the passion in isolation from the rest of the life of Christ and out of all relation to it. It would give us a false view of that life were we to regard the passion as alone entering into the Divine economy of redemption and as having nothing but an accidental connection with the thirty years that preceded the public life of the Savior. That Divine life constituted a totality and an indivisible unity, each part of which has a vital and intimate union with every other part. It is through, and by means of, and in virtue of that life taken as a whole that our salvation has been achieved, and each several mystery of Our Lord's life had its part to play in the work of the redemption. Each had its redemptive effect on humanity, though all were meant to lead up to, to prepare, and to converge on the great tragedy of Good Friday. Every path in Our Lord's life led towards the hill of Calvary; Calvary in turn, projected its shadows over every mystery and simply set forth in letters of vivid flame and blood what each expressed in more sober terms. In other words, Jesus was redeeming us when He laboriously planed wood in St. Joseph's workshop as well as when He faced the awful ordeal of the passion. The hidden life played its part in the salvation of mankind no less than the public life with its denouement on Calvary. Without the passion, the hidden life would not have been accepted by God-in accordance with His eternal decree that by the death of His Son should men be redeemed. But without the hidden life redeemed mankind would not have been taught how to exercise in the ordinary circumstances of average life the virtues displayed in such an eminent degree in the passion. Men had not only to be restored to life, they had to be taught to live.

"By the death of Christ we were restored to that supernatural condition which we had forfeited by Adam's sin, but it is through the example of and by virtue of the life of Christ that we are enabled to walk worthy of our Divine vocation....Were we to dwell under the impression that access to God would be for us only through the accomplishment of works on a heroic scale, the endurance of sufferings that would bear some resemblance to those of the passion, the courage of almost all would fail. But heaven is not thrown open exclusively to men of heroic caliber. Jesus, in His goodness, has traced for us a human existence which is easy for all to imitate and at the same time one which is eminently pleasing to God. It must needs be a manner of existence pleasing to God, seeing that God made man chose it for Himself, and in all things, as He tells us, He fulfilled His Heavenly Father's pleasure."12

Pope John Paul II on the Priesthood

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of his ordination, Pope John Paul II has these most inspiring words for all priests: "If we take a close look at what contemporary men and women expect from priests, we will see that, in the end, they have but one great expectation: they are thirsting for Christ. Everything else-their economic, social, and political needs-can be met by any number of other people. From the priest they ask for Christ! And from him they have the right to receive Christ, above all through the proclamation of the word. As the Council teaches, priests 'have as their primary duty the proclamation of the Gospel of God to all.' (Presbyterorum Ordinis, 4). But this proclamation seeks to have man encounter Jesus, especially in the mystery of the Eucharist, the living heart of the Church and of priestly life. The priest has a mysterious, awesome power over the Eucharistic Body of Christ. By reason of this power he becomes the steward of the greatest treasure of the Redemption, for he gives people the Redeemer in person. Celebrating the Eucharist is the most sublime and most sacred function of every priest. As for me, from the very first years of my priesthood, the celebration of the Eucharist has not only been my most sacred duty, but above all my soul's deepest need."13

Laurentin and Mary

Fr. René Laurentin, one of the world's foremost Mariologists, offers us the meaningful words concerning Mary: "She was present physically throughout the life of Christ-both by her mother's love and by her commitment to him. It was a communion of faith, of hope and of charity. Mary's presence to her son is a model for us, since, through this mother, God becomes our brother and has given her to us as mother in order to identify us with himself....We are humble children of this mother who has so profoundly adopted us in him....Mary has the mission of aiding the work of our divinization in Jesus Christ. She cooperates with him in the work of God."14

The Heart of Christ

Rudolph of Saxony, whose book The Life of Jesus Christ played a key role in the conversion of St. Ignatius Loyola, gives us these inspiring words regarding the Heart of Christ: "The Heart of Christ was wounded for us with the wound of love, that through the opening of His side we may in return enter His Heart by means of love, and there be able to unite all our love with His divine love into one love, as the glowing iron is one with the fire. Therefore, for the sake of this wound which Christ received for him on the Cross, when the dart of unconquering love pierced His Heart, man should bring all his will into conformity with the will of God. But to fashion himself into conformity with Christ's sufferings, he should consider what surpassingly noble love our Lord has shown us in the opening of His side, since through it He has given us the wide open entrance into His Heart. Therefore, let man make haste to enter into the Heart of Jesus: let him gather up all his love and unite it with the divine love."15

The Holy Spirit and the Priest

The Directory on the Ministry and Life of Priests reminds us of how closely the Holy Spirit is united to priests to lead us along the path of total self-giving: 'In Priestly Ordination, the priest has received the seal of the Holy Spirit which has marked him by the sacramental character in order to always be the minister of Christ and the Church. Assured of the promise that the Consoler will abide 'with him forever' (Jn 14:16-17), the priest knows that he will never lose the presence and the effective power of the Holy Spirit in order to exercise his ministry and live with clarity his pastoral office as a total gift of self for the salvation of his own brothers."16

St. Therese on Surrender to God

The Saint of the Little Way, St. Therese of Lisieux, gives us her words on abandonment to God's will: "Neither do I any longer desire suffering or death, and still I love them both; it is love alone that attracts me, however. I desired them for a long time; I possessed suffering and believed I had touched the shores of heaven, that the little flower would be gathered in the spring time of her life. Now, abandonment alone guides me. I have no other compass! I can no longer ask for anything with fervor except the accomplishment of God's will in my soul without any creature being able to set obstacles in the way."17

God the Father

The Catechism tells us: "Faith in God the Father Almighty can be put to the test by the experience of evil and suffering. God can sometimes seem to be absent and incapable of stopping evil. But in the most mysterious way God the Father has revealed his almighty power in the voluntary humiliation and Resurrection of his Son, by which he conquered evil. Christ crucified is thus 'the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.' It is in Christ's Resurrection and exaltation that the Father has shown forth 'the immeasurable greatness of his power in us who believe.'"18


The Theology of Consecration

A. Boussard gives an extremely fine and concise sketch of the theology of consecration: "By the Incarnation, in and of itself, the Humanity of Jesus is consecrated, so that in becoming Man, Jesus is ipso facto constituted Savior. Prophet, King, Priest, and Victim of the One Sacrifice that was to save the world. He is the 'Anointed', par excellence, the 'Christ' totally belonging to God, His Humanity being that of the Word and indwelled by the Holy Spirit. When, by a free act of His human will, He accepts what He is, doing what He was sent to do, He can say that He consecrates 'Himself'. In Christ, therefore, what might be called His 'subjective' consecration is a perfect response to the 'objective' consecration produced in His Humanity through the Incarnation.

"And what Christ does brings with it a 'consecration' for His disciples, a very special belonging to God, since He imparts to them His own life precisely by making them participate in His own consecration.

"Through Baptism Christians also are consecrated and 'anointed' by the power of the Spirit. They share, in their measure, in the essential consecration of Christ, in His character of King, Priest, and Prophet (cf. 1 Pt 2:9; 2 Pt 1:3-4; Rv 5:9; etc.) With Christ and through Christ, they are 'ordered' to the glory of God and the salvation of the world. They do not belong to themselves. They belong to the Lord, who imparts His own life to them....

"The vocation of those who have been baptized is to 'live' this consecration by a voluntary adherence-and one that is as perfect as possible-to what it has made of them. Living as 'children of God', they fulfill subjectively their objective consecration; like Jesus, they consecrate themselves. This is the deeper meaning of vows and baptismal promises, together with the actual way of life corresponding to them. The baptismal consecration is the fundamental one, constitutive of the Christian. All consecrations which come after it presuppose it and are rooted in it...."19

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 life 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.


  1. Scriptural quotations are taken from The Jerusalem Bible, Doubleday & Co.
  2. Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, America Press edition, Ch. 3, No. 38.
  3. St. Gregory of Nyssa, as in The Liturgy of the Hours, Catholic Book Publishing Co. Vol I, p. 555.
  4. Pope John Paul II, Gift and Mystery, Doubleday, pp. 74-75.
  5. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 1324.
  6. Ignio Giordani, Catherine of Siena, Bruce Publications,p. 132.
  7. Ibid., pp. 121-122.
  8. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 1348.
  9. St. Peter Eymard, "The Most Blessed Sacrament Is Not Loved!," as in The Treasury of Catholic Wisdom, Fr. John Hardon, S.J., ed., Ignatius Press, p. 384.
  10. Rita Ring, Mass Book, to be published by Shepherds of Christ Publications.
  11. Pope John XXIII, The Cure of Ars and the Priesthood, Encyclical Letter, Paulist Press, p. 16.
  12. Edward Leen, C.S.Sp., In the Likeness of Christ, Sheed & Ward, pp. 111-113.
  13. Pope John Paul II, op. cit., pp. 85-86.
  14. René Laurentin, A Year of Grace with Mary, Veritas Publications, pp. 113-114.
  15. Rudolph of Saxony, "The Life of Jesus Christ," as in Heart of the Redeemer, by Timothy O'Donnell, Trinity Communications, p. 101.
  16. "Directory on the Ministry and Life of Priests," as in special supplement, Inside the Vatican, p. 18.
  17. Story of a Soul, The Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux, ICS Publications, p. 280.
  18. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 178.
  19. A. Boussard in Dictionary of Mary, Catholic Book Publishing Co., pp. 54-55.


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January/February 1997
Shepherds of Christ

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

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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