PRIESTLY MISSION: EMBRACING OBLATION PART 1
In our day the word ‘victim’ has an almost exclusive echo referring to one who has been abused as a child, or for some it connotes those who perished on 9/11, for others it refers to women who suffer domestic violence.
Thus to connect the word victim and soul, as in victim-soul for many, at first hearing, suggests a soul victimized, rather than the classic true meaning, namely, a soul chosen by God, such as St. Faustina or St. Gemma Galgani, who accepts to suffer more than most people in this life, doing so of course in union with Jesus, following the Pauline concept of fulfilling within ourselves a sharing in the Passion of Jesus.
Some, most notably the ranks of the Martyrs, known and unknown, have this thrust upon them so suddenly their fiat, their yes, occurs simultaneously with being victim of an act of violence against Christ which unfolds within their own being.
Others, by Baptism for all, for some additionally and profoundly by Ordination, being immersed in the first instance in the death and resurrection of Christ, and again some being configured to Christ Priest, lead lives of clear faith and fidelity, in what I most respectfully refer to as ordinary lives.
It is not necessary to have some extraordinary experience such as a vision or a locution to know deep in one’s heart the call of Christ, within the ordinary of our lives, to open ourselves to being, with Him, victim-soul, sacrificial-soul, or, the term I have, after for many years using the former two, sense is best for priests: OBLATION.
We know from her life that St. Gemma Galgani was told directly by Jesus of His need of victims, souls who would atone for others.
At the moment of our ordination, in persona Christi, we men who are ordained in point of fact are saying YES to this cry of Jesus across the millennia.
Any objective observer of the condition of the human family on this earth so ravaged by hunger, homelessness, violence, environmental anxieties, overshadowed by the culture of death with its relentless assault on the human person through abortion, obsessive materialism, the assault on Holy Marriage and Family life, etc., etc., or observing the state of the Church with the vast numbers of empty pews, or of the Priesthood where the sins of a few have wrecked the image of the many, surely can understand the urgent plea of Christ.
As Priests we find ourselves in the whole gambit of life conditions/situations from being on the threshold of death in a nursing home, perhaps no longer able even to concelebrate, to the newly ordained; being part way through life and active priesthood, serving in parishes or the military or some institution of higher learning, or place of care for the sick or imprisoned; finally, but in no way least, many these days as priests live literally in prison or isolated, virtually invisible because, guilty or not, we have been suspended from public ministry.
Irrespective of our situation or status we remain priest that is in, with Christ we are oblation.
Oblation: first for love of Jesus and thus for love of everyone, for their salvation.
Of course, no matter what my emotions may be doing on a given day, wherever and whatever my situation as priest is, we are talking here about fundamental faith and fiat, which means a constant willingness to trust Him and to surrender!
For myself all this is impossible without the help of Our Blessed Mother of Priests.
Every morning my first words to her are to ask her to share with me, and all my brother priests, her own heart, faith, love, fiat, trust and surrender.
If we imitate her that directly brings us into the depths of the imitation of Christ.
If we share in, and imitate, her own self-offering, her oblation, we will more fully be one with Christ-Priest, as priests, in His self-offering, oblation.
Since we become what we contemplate our gaze should always be fixed upon the face, the person of Jesus and there is no better place to begin this contemplation than, like the Shepherds, humbly approaching the cave where we find Jesus with His Mother.
She first presents Him to us.
To be there then is to be in the school of Mary, where we learn to be truly what we are, priest and to become fully what we are: priest- oblation in persona Christi.
Bethlehem leads to Calvary, the cave to the tomb, and the point of convergence, wherein all the reality of Christ, of our baptismal lives is both vivified and illuminated is within the depths of the Divine Liturgy, for Pope John Paul himself stressed we priests are “born from the Eucharist.”
In the depths of the Eucharistic mystery and reality we contemplate Jesus: sacrificial-self-gift; Jesus: victim; Jesus: oblation; Jesus: PRIEST.
Our Blessed Mother placed Jesus in the chalice of the manger for everyone to meet Him, gaze upon Him and from that chalice throughout His earthly life He poured Himself out, teaching, healing, proclaiming God IS Abba, Father!, until the time came for Him to place Himself on the paten of the Cross and pour Himself out to the last drop of His blood, for us.