Victimae paschali laudes immolent Christiani.
So do we cry out in the ancient Paschal Hymn glorifying and giving thanks for the Risen Lord Jesus.
Even in the full fire and light of His Holy Resurrection we refer to Him as ‘victim’, for He is indeed the victim-oblation to the Father for us.
We also each Easter renew our Baptismal Promises, the active remembering of our having been plunged through the holy waters into the depths of the mystery of His oblation-death and brought forth in the fire-light of His Holy Resurrection.
The extending months into years at times between writing on the mystery of not merely by virtue of ordination in persona Christi, but actively heart to heart seeking union with Christ as victim-soul, as oblation with Him, is because I am in all this a mere beginner.
Hence the whole mysterious process and struggle to hand myself fully over to Him is part of the reason for the gaps in writing – for I will often flee this union more than surrender to and cooperate with it.
This because when all is said and done this is all more about Jesus the Beloved than about any one of us and kenosis, real death to self, is never easy!
The older I get the more profoundly aware I am in my personal life that time is short.
However given the persistent thickening of the darkness of the culture of death, the seeming constant increase of civil wars and revolutions, of extreme weather, hunger, the intense pressure to de-Christianize the whole world, through assault on Holy Marriage, the constant murderous evil of abortion, I sense historically, salvation history-wise, time is short, very short indeed.
None of the baptized, most especially and urgently we priests, can afford any longer to be neo-Ladoceans and wallow in lukewarmness. [cf. Rev. 3:14-22]
How urgently we must beg the grace to, and cooperate with the grace to, rediscover our first love.
Along with the above pain in the world of nations, the human family, the lives of real persons, there is also these days immense suffering within the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church, of which we are members and as the Apostle reminds us when one member suffers, the whole body suffers. [cf. 1 Cor. 12:26]
From the so-called Vati-leaks wherein the Holy Father himself has been betrayed, to the immense suffering caused by clerical sin against the innocents, compounded by the defensive stance of the Church resulting in thousands of priests denied due process, many being falsely accused yet tossed under the bus, the persistent tragedy of priests committing suicide, the impact of all this on the faith and sense of place in the Church of many of the laity: we enter the Year of Faith called for by the Holy Father as a Church battered, bruised, sinful, of dwindling adherents, desperately in need collectively and individually of profound metanoia and kenosis.
Like Rachel weeping for her children the Church is – or should be and so should all priests be – weeping for Her children.
Christ too weeps, in the Garden and on the Cross and He asks anew in the Garden if anyone will keep vigil with Him.
I speak now of every priest – yes all of us: guilty priests in prison, falsely accused priests suspended, active priests, priests struggling, elderly, infirm, isolated, hidden, hermit priests, monastic priests, yes all of us, need truly to become victim-oblations, victim-souls, in union with Christ Victim for the Church, for the Priesthood, for the entire human family.
Poverty is a topic which is mostly discussed among priests as a social justice issue and most priests do have a genuine love, awareness of and care for the poor.
Certainly in my work in a soup kitchen I see the generosity of parishes, led by their pastors, in donating food and clothing, and as well volunteering time, day in and day out, to serve the poor.
Granted priests come less often than their parishioners, given the daily duties of parish priests, but often enough to show true service of the poor.
I once served with a pastor who every Christmas eve in the years I was with him, before the Midnight Mass, would invite me to join him as we went first to a supermarket to buy everything for a family to have a great Christmas meal.
We would then drive to the home of a poor family, quietly leave the boxes of food and toys for the children by the door and then slip away unnoticed.
I am confident in saying that many priests are very skilled at being generous without being noticed.
However when it comes to personally being poor, this is perhaps the greater challenge as evangelical poverty, particularly vowed poverty, is, even in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, often presented as primarily part of the commitment of those in religious orders.
Un-chosen poverty, the poverty which inflicts real hardship and suffering on millions of human beings through hunger, disease, thirst, homelessness, the grinding poverty of drug addicts, the mentally ill who have no support system and end up living on the streets, often means a life of squalor, anger, violence, despair.
No wonder Christendom, from the Pope to the un-poor people of his day, was shaken to the core by the radial poverty of St. Francis, the Poverello.
In our day Mother Teresa in her own life lived a similar poverty, and the Sisters, Priests and Brothers, the Volunteers who continue her work, live likewise.
Jean Vanier and those who live in the various l’Arche homes around the world likewise have chosen a life of service and within it a real poverty as well.
While the very reality of our prime duties in our vocation of joy as priests necessitates proper food, clothing, housing and certain material things to enable us to be servants of the poor, servants of everyone, I believe we can as priests live more simply, yes even a real poverty.
This means, of course, a radical examination of conscious, a brutally honest look at how we live, what we possess, seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit to truly discern is this or that a real need, or a whimsical want.
He who loves God consciously in his heart is known by God (cf. 1 Cor. 8:3), for to the degree that he receives the love of God consciously in his soul, he truly enters into God’s love. From that time on such a man never loses an intense longing for the illumination of spiritual knowledge, until he senses its strength in his bones and no longer knows himself, but is completely transformed by the love of God. He is both present in this life and not present in it; still dwelling in the body, he yet departs from it, as through love he ceaselessly journeys towards God in his soul. His heart now burns constantly with the fire of love and clings to God with an irresistible longing, since he has once and for all transcended self-love in his love for God. As St. Paul writes: ‘If we go out of ourselves, it is because of God; if we are restrained, it is for your sake’ 9 2 Cor. 5: 130. ~St. Diadochos of Photiki 
We are all familiar with the cautionary words of St. Peter, prayed in the Divine Office of Night Prayer, wherein he warns us about the devouring evil one.
We live in a culture, a time in history, where the primary economic engine is no longer a response to basic human needs of food, shelter, clothing, but unbridled consumption.
It is not when ordinary people reduce their spending on necessities that there ensues a slowdown in the economy, rather it occurs when people, the ubiquitous ‘consumer’, reduce what is with no little irony referred to as ‘discretionary spending’ – in other words spending large on things which are not needed but wanted!
St. Paul reminds us of the immense love of Jesus who gave up all for our sake [2 Cor.8:9] to enrich us through His own poverty.
By divine election we are ordained in persona Christi – the Poor Man.
While it is an obvious statement to note that as parish priests we are not vowed to poverty, are not called to the same ascetical life, or rather the same degree, as monastics, for example, nonetheless if we truly long for spiritual illumination, for communion and union of love with the Holy Trinity, then we need to examine the extent or paucity of asceticism in our daily lives.
Every human being, most especially the baptized who follow Christ, is targeted by the devil and his minions, not because they care a whit about us, but because they hate Christ. [cf. Rev.12]
We know painfully the universal public damage done by media reports of the crimes and sins of some priests and the personal harm done to the victims of such sin.
All the more urgent then, I believe, for all priests to take more seriously the ascetical aspects of the call to holiness and to become real fighters in spiritual warfare.
I also know the greater the ascetical aspect of our lives, the greater freedom of the lived Beatitude of the poor in spirit, the greater the joy!
Of the demons opposing us in the practice of the ascetic life, there are three groups who fight on the front line: those entrusted with the appetites of gluttony, those who suggest avaricious thoughts, and those who incite us to seek the esteem of men. All the other demons follow behind and in their turn attack those already wounded by the first three groups. For one does not fall into the power of the demon of unchastity, unless one has first fallen because of gluttony; nor is one’s anger aroused unless one is fighting for food or material possessions or the esteem of men. And one does not escape the demon of dejection, unless one no longer experiences suffering when deprived of these things. Nor will one escape pride, the first offspring of the devil, unless one has banished avarice, the root of all evil, since poverty makes a man humble, according to Solomon ( cf. Prov. 10:4. LXX). In short, no one can fall into the power of any demon, unless he had been wounded by those of the front line. That is why the devil suggested these three thoughts to the Saviour: first he exhorted Him to turn stones into bread; then he promised Him the whole world, if Christ would fall down and worship him; and thirdly he said that, if our Lord would listen to him, He would be glorified and suffer nothing in falling from the pinnacle of the temple. But our Lord, having shown Himself superior to these temptations, commanded the devil to ‘get behind Him’. In this way He teaches us that it is not possible to drive away the devil, unless we scornfully reject these three thoughts (cf. Matt. 4: 1-10). ~Evagrios The Solitary 
Once more in our vocation of joy in persona Christi we are also in the person of Christ the One who is the prime target of diabolical assault and we cannot afford to let our guard down even for a nano-second!
While not mandating vowed poverty for parish priests the Second Vatican Council is very clear when urging priests to embrace voluntary poverty, noting in part that:
…Let priests be thankful for everything that the Heavenly Father has given them towards a proper standard of living. However they ought to judge everything they meet in the light of faith, so that they will be guided towards the right use of things in accordance with God’s will and will reject anything that is prejudicial to their mission.
….priests are invited to embrace voluntary poverty. By it they become more clearly conformed to Christ………….
The essence, as we know, of true poverty in imitation of Christ is a state of heart, a matter of trust, absolute confidence in Divine Providence [cf. Lk.11 & 12:13-34]
Certainly as Scripture makes clear in passages we all are familiar with, the worker is worthy of a just wage, and if we wish to eat, we should work – so material poverty is a relatively simple, dare I say easy, poverty – especially since, normally, the diocese, the parish, sees to our remuneration, housing, food, medical care and provision for our shelter and care in old age.
However these days for many priests none of that is a sure thing, given the litigious culture in which we live.
Without objecting for one second to legitimate claims and just settlements, several dioceses as a result have been forced into bankruptcy, in many parts of the world dioceses and parishes simply do not have the financial resources to adequately care for their priests and depend upon the generosity of wealthier parts of the Church throughout the world – so perhaps if we each were willing to live more simply we would have more to share with our brothers who have even less.
Before leaving the matter of material poverty there is in our day a new and growing group of brother priests for whom material poverty is thrust upon them suddenly, devastatingly, and, frankly, we and our bishops should be ashamed of our responsibility for such outrageous injustice – I speak of priests rightly or falsely accused of abuse who find themselves suddenly removed from public ministry, from their homes, from real financial support.
In my work and correspondence with priests caught up in the current, let us be honest about ALL its components, crisis and scandal, there is a definite pattern of both local bishops and the Vatican moving very quickly to dismiss, to punish, without due process and without any spirit of reconciliation and charity.
No argument here that justice demands those who commit crime and sin be held accountable and that their victims be granted true justice, therefore all the various forms of material, emotional, spiritual support needed, for as long as it is needed.
However it does seem as Church, or rather those with ‘power’ in the Church, we have become increasingly harsh, unjust, and uncharitable towards priest-sinners and that an attitude which is punitive and dismissive is spreading, with dire consequences for ordained human beings.
The continued increase of suicide among the ranks of accused and dismissed priests, priests reduced to abject poverty should give us all pause and by the grace of God move us towards a re-think, seriously, of how we are treating such men, our brothers, and what message this sends to the whole world about how seriously we take our being in persona Christi, the One who welcomed sinners, sat with sinners, ate with sinners, visited them, yes while granting forgiveness calling to conversion, to be sure, and much conversion is needed within our ranks, but so is compassion.
Bluntly it seems to me here, as sadly frequently happens in our personal lives but sometimes also within the corporate reality of parish, diocese, wider church, when we take our gaze off of Jesus we begin to sink into turbulent waters.
Yet if our gaze remains on Jesus then:
This focus on Jesus is a renunciation of self. His gaze purifies our heart; the light of the countenance of Jesus illumines the eyes of our heart and teaches us to see everything in the light of His truth and His compassion for all men. 
There is the deeper reality of poverty to which we are all called, all the baptized and we priests in particular: true poverty of the poor in spirit, the limitless depths of the first Beatitude.
The challenge here is to embrace a type of real fear of vulnerability, exemplified in the reaction and response of the Rich Young Man of the Gospel [cf. Mk. 10:17-31].
We tend, I suspect, to be more aware of the reaction – the man’s sense of being imprisoned by his possessions and terrified to be dispossessed and vulnerable, poor – than of the response of Jesus who gazes upon the man and love’s him.
Jesus is always gazing upon and loving us. His love is dynamic, providential, and unconditional.
Christ gazes not merely upon us.
The eyes of the Poor Christ pierce with the fire of His compassionate love into the depths of our being in every moment, a gaze which invites to communion of love, inviting us to be poor like Him, to trust the Father as He does, to empty and pour ourselves out as He does.
Jesus invites us to embrace as He did the ultimate poverty of complete vulnerability: powerlessness – as He embraced it in the Garden, before Pilate, in His Passion, on the Cross unto death.
There are many ways we can voluntarily enter into the absolute poverty and powerlessness of Christ if we are willing, like Jesus, to ourselves be humble and meek of heart [cf. Mt. 11: 28-30].
Poverty’s middle name is “surrender”, total surrender to God. When we surrender we have nothing left, and when we have nothing we are poor. 
It is when we forget, or flee from, or are ashamed of, discouraged by, our utter poverty that we begin to seek comfort and affirmation in the ‘riches’ of the world, material things, persons, in a word become vulnerable to the lies and enticements of satan.
Humility is the key.
Total kenosis, total surrender, and total oneness with Christ the Poor One.
…………..we must accept, joyfully and serenely, the knowledge that, as a Church, we are becoming increasingly poor. This is true in financial terms, in terms of staffing, in terms of our impact on public life and the media…..
But here is our hope: a poorer Church is not necessarily impoverished in the quality of its love and devotion to God and to humanity……Perhaps this poverty will make priests more aware of the essential values of our priesthood: the mystery of our vocation; the power of our ordination and of our mission; faith in the irresistible power of the gospel proclaimed in all its purity, without rhetorical and artificial embellishments; faith in the quiet power of the sacraments; the prestige of a more spiritual authority.
…………Poverty is as old as the Church herself. It is congenital. The story of Jesus in Bethlehem, after all, and led to Calvary. The manger and the cross have remained at the heart of the Church to this day. Poverty did not prevent the shepherds and the magi from coming to see Christ. And no sooner did Jesus die on the Cross than ‘He gathered all things to Himself’: the centurion, the fearful notables Nicodemus and Joseph. If a grain of wheat dies, ‘it produces many grains’ (Jn.12:24).
………..This is the naked truth of the gospels: only a faith that is poor can be solid ground on which to stand. No other supports will sustain us through the cold winters of this world. There is no alternative. Poverty will not take our joy from us; it will increase it. We priests are ready to contribute to this joy (see 2 Co.1:20). We want to be messengers of joy!