An Unshakable Purpose

As his ordination to the priesthood draws near, Frater Moses notes that in spite of the fallibility of priests, Jesus Christ underwrites the stable reality of the sacraments by His own divine omnipotence.‍

Ed. Note: this reflection was written by Frater Moses in June 2024, on his approaching Ordination to the Priesthood.

The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.

The priesthood is a great gift of God to man, a precious sacrament through which Christ gives His life and mercy to us sinners. He infallibly works through the words and works of those ordained by the Church for the good of those whom He loves. Only through the priest does Jesus Christ regale His children with His own body and blood. Only by the agency of the priest does Jesus choose to dwell among His friends in the Blessed Sacrament. Jesus’ intense desire to be with those He loves makes the sacramental action of the priest achieve its effect, always, without fail. In spite of, or perhaps because of the wickedness of the men who become priests, Jesus Christ underwrites the stable reality of the sacraments by His own divine omnipotence.

If ecclesiastical news has taught the faithful Christian anything in the past few decades it is that priests are often wicked men and, indeed, some of the most wicked of men; perpetrators of horrendous and nauseous depravities. Their heinous crimes have crushed and poisoned the beautiful innocence of many in irremediable ways.

The riddle of the compresence of sin and grace in God’s Church contains deep, strange, and important truths about God’s love for the human family and all creation. Suffice it to say here that in the sacraments of His Church God graces the bonds that join man to man, even though such bonds can be tragically abused. He gives corrupt men a share in His divine power, a power which communicates the divine nature to His much beloved creature. This special participation in God's work is a good thing for the man who receives it, but only because of the final goal God has in view: the deification of each man in His body, the Church.

The priesthood of any of us sinful men of the Church means nothing without this fundamental purpose. The priesthood is not a status or position or career to be achieved and enjoyed. It is the real power in a human soul to make God’s grace present in and to another human person.

By the gracious machinations of God’s providence I find myself a few days away from possessing this power. My identity, my person, my humanity, will not be transformed. I will still be a weak man tempted to sin, frequent to fall, ready with many unchristian words and deeds, trapped in the world of my own egotism. The good thing that accrues to me by the sacrament of priesthood is not a sanctity upgrade or an acquisition of supererogatory merit upon which I will construct the edifice of my self-conscious superiority. This good thing, the priestly character in me, is a boon for the Church. The Christians who daily struggle and reach out to their Savior, God’s beloved children who seek Him in the sacraments, these are the ones who gain by the ordination of a new priest.

In looking ahead to my ordination, I have a deep feeling of gratitude to the laity, the believing saints and sinners of Christ’s body who make it possible for this sinner to take part in some way in the glorious work God achieves in them by His saving flesh. Because God intensely desires to draw all men to Himself a holy participation in His power will inhabit my sinful soul. I am immensely grateful to all who have prayed, worked, and donated to allow me to receive this gift, but, in a special way, right now, I feel my dependence on every simple Christian of the Church who believes that Jesus loves them and wants to show them that love in the Eucharistic sacrifice. It is their faith and goodness that gives an unshakable purpose and substance to my future priesthood.

Priestly Ordinations will be held this year on Saturday, June 29, in the abbey church. You can find more info and a livestream broadcast of the Mass by following this link.

These upcoming ordinations--and, indeed, all of the work we do at the abbey--are the fruit of the prayer and support of generous men and women from around the world. If you are not currently supporting the work of St. Michael's Abbey, please consider becoming a member of the Abbot's Circle.

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