A Message from Father William

As God blesses us with the privilege to attend and participate in Mass each week
(or daily Mass for some folks), and gives us the Eucharist through His priests, may we
notice some powerful priesthood-related Scripture passages this Sunday. Saint Mark
(6:7-13) recalls the fact that Jesus chose twelve men to be His Apostles, His first priests
and bishops, and that He gave them His authority as He sent them out two by two
to minister to His people, calling all to repent and believe in the Gospel. Saint Paul
reminds us that God calls not only priests, but all of us to be holy, to praise His glory
forever (Ephesians 1:3-14).

Surely, all baptized persons can hear and heed Saint Paul’s words to the Christians
at Ephesus: He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and without
blemish before Him. Through the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Holy
Communion (the Eucharist), all the Christian faithful belong to a chosen race, a royal
priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people (1 Peter 2:9). By sharing in the priesthood
of Jesus Christ, the faithful can actively participate in the celebration of the Holy
Sacrifice of the Mass, as Jesus offers His Mass through His priests as He re-presents
His Passion, Death, Resurrection and Ascension (the Paschal Mystery, the Good
News) at every Mass. Then, strengthened by Jesus in His gift of the Eucharist, we the
faithful go into the world to proclaim this Good News to all whom we encounter, to
allow God to sanctify our daily words and deeds, to share in the one mission of the
Church by means of the different vocations we have received from God (Holy Orders,
Holy Matrimony, or the consecrated religious and single life), to “go make disciples”
as Bishop Donald Hying has reminded us, letting people know that God has rescued
us from sin and death, inviting everyone to encounter Jesus Christ crucified and risen
from the dead in a life-affirming and life-changing way.

From the common priesthood of the people of God, our Lord calls some men
through His Church to the Sacrament of Holy Orders, the ministerial priesthood (God
blessed the Diocese of Madison with two new priests this year, Fr. Luke Powers and
Fr. Michael Wanta). This ordained priesthood builds upon the common priesthood of
the people, as the ordained are essentially different, set apart (In Conversation with
God, Fr. Francis Fernandez). By means of the consecration he receives in the Sacrament
of Holy Orders, the priest becomes an instrument of Jesus Christ in order to bring the
grace of Redemption to all mankind. By virtue of the Sacrament of Holy Orders, the
priest is to act directly in the person of Christ (in persona Christi) at all times, especially
at Mass. In other words, when a priest baptizes, confirms, offers the Mass, hears
confession, anoints the sick, blesses marriages, it is actually Jesus Christ Himself who
is doing so, through the priest (Christ Himself ordains men to the priesthood through the
bishop). Today, the world and the Church are crying out for holy priests, men willing to
give themselves completely to Jesus and His Church. As we pray for vocations to the
Sacraments of Holy Orders and Holy Matrimony, let us pray for priests to serve Jesus
and His Church as holy, happy and hard-working priests who proclaim the Gospel of
Jesus Christ with charity and clarity in their words and deeds.

With peace and prayers in Christ,
Fr. William