By Fr. George Welzbacher
July 19, 2009
As a follow-up to my comments this past weekend in my homily on "The Year of the Priest", the year during which Pope Benedict has asked us to offer special prayers and acts of penance for an increased commitment on the part of priests throughout the world to the first and foremost mission of the Church, namely, the work of getting souls into heaven and keeping them out of hell, a commitment that carries with it the need for holiness in the personal life of the priest, may I share with you here the remarks of my friend Father John Zuhlsdorf, known to bloggers throughout the English-speaking world as "Father Z." His reflections on the significance of this recent action taken by our Holy Father appeared on July 9th , in the column that Father Z writes each week for The Wanderer: "What Does the Prayer Really Say?
* * * * *What Does the Prayer Really Say?
By: Father John Zuhlsdorf
The Wanderer. July 9, 2009
The Year of St. Paul has just closed. The Year for Priests is just underway.
Holy Church must speak with a strong and clear voice in the world's public square. For that to happen Catholic men and women must have a strong identity. They will not have this strong identity if our priests are weak or tepid, uncertain, vague about who Christ is, who the Church must be, or who they are. A renewal of the identity and sanctity of priests will renew and strengthen the whole Church.
On the very day the Year for Priests began, June 19, a wonderful thing happened as I was en route to New York City to give a talk. As we were boarding the flight-I was already seated-a young lady who had paused next to me in the aisle said in a strong voice: "Happy Year of Priests, Father!"
It was a great surprise and a shot in the arm. We were barely hours into the first day of this Year for Priests when this wonderful affirination of Pope Benedict's project and vision comes out of the blue and in a public place with people listening and watching. This twenty-something traveler gave a witness to her faith and identity in public and performed a work of charity! She must have made a plan to do things like this.
Consider what YOU can do to take advantage of the spiritual fruits you are being offered. Pope Benedict has designated this year as a time to pray for the sanctification of priests. In His Holiness's words at the beginning of this year on June 19, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart, the year of prayer is "meant to deepen the commitment of all priests to interior renewaf for the sake of a more forceful and incisive witness to the Gospel in today's world."
During this special year you should develop a plan about how you will do your part in Pope Benedict's project for revitalizing the Church's identity. Can you help to increase vocations to the priesthood and to strengthen the priests we have? You can also gain indulgences for doing so.
Each day of this year priests can gain a plenary indulgence, especially for deceased priests, by praying Lauds or Vespers before the Blessed Sacrament exposed in a monstrance or reposed in the tabernacle. In local editions of the Ordo, the official calendar for a particular diocese or ecclesiastical province, there is usually each day a "necrology" page naming the priests of the diocese or province who have died on that day. For example, a priest could make a list of those for whom he would hope to gain an indulgence, using the necrology in the Ordo, and instead of simply praying his Divine Office in one place or another he might stop before or after Mass to say Lauds or Vespers in the church or chapel where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved.
The upside? Father gains the indulgence. Father spends time with the Eucharist Lord. A deceased priest is aided with the indulgence. People are edified by what they observe. How is that not a win for everyone?
On the first Thursday of the month (or on any other day established by the local bishop) lay people can obtain the plenary indulgence when, under the usual conditions, they attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and pray to Jesus Christ the Eternal High Priest for the priests of the Church, provided that they have been to confession and have prayed for the intentions the Pope has indicated. Lay people are urged to offer good works during the day so that God may sanctify priests....
* * * * *And here is the text of the official decree.
* * * * *