April 5th, 2020
Dear Apostles and Friends,
As we drop down into Holy Week, no doubt many of us are remembering where we expected to be, rather than where we find ourselves. We may be, to varying degrees, in altered circumstances.
During this week, especially, we cannot help but think of our clergy. Clearly, their experience of Holy Week will be different this year. Liturgically, Jesus Christ has begun the painful trek to his death. Each priest, in some way, shares that journey this week. As shepherds mostly separated from their flocks, they, like the rest of us, must focus ever more intently on the mission of our Church and their role in it. Can we all say that our obligation is less because we cannot fulfill it in the normal manner? No. Perhaps mastering the obvious, our collective obligation becomes greater than before.
What does our Church need from our priests and deacons at this time? God’s children crave spiritual reassurance. They need graces, badly. These graces are not easily obtained, as anyone who has been asked to ‘offer it up’ knows. Fathers, perhaps your eyes will slowly close to the external Church for a short time each day, as you minister to your flock spiritually, from Jesus Christ present within. The reality of the graces obtained through your prayers and sacrifices is sublime, even while mostly, we cannot see it. ‘We know this,’ you respond. Yes, of course. And yet, does the Shepherd turn away from the contented image of sheep resting quietly in a pasture? More likely, he allows himself to gaze upon it, knowing that while he does not grow the grass or bring up the sun each morning, he nevertheless plays a role in the wellbeing of those in his care.
Thank you, Fathers, for your vocations.
One cannot help but notice in a time such as this that lay men and women play a most crucial role in the spread and maintenance of the faith. Are we maintaining our prayer? Can the people around us observe us doing so, as best we can? Are we flexible and trusting in our faith practice or evidencing upset or even panic? Clearly, if we believe what we say we believe, we are trusting and flexible, always searching for that happy detour to Christ and for the opportunities that arise when one road is blocked and we must creatively find another route. Great and marvellous events can come on detours.
I recently observed a doctor from Spain speaking. An anaesthesiologist, he spoke about the trauma work he specialised in and the reality that life and death decisions, high pressure, and people struggling to live were normal in his day. He spoke in a professional manner, until they asked him how he, personally, was doing. He paused, then with visible emotion replied, “For the first time in my professional life, I am not enough. We are not enough.”
I felt a peculiar, impacting grace in the words and the loveliness of his suffering and humility. It seemed to me that something had landed for him, which was for all of us. We are not enough. Our ‘just in time’ supply chains, superfast, unlimited internet, constant movement and stimulation? It is not enough.
Each person offers his life back to God, partially executed. We try. But we are not enough to save the world. We never were. We were never asked to be. God creates us and we hit the ground in life and start moving. But what we achieve humanly has to be limited. It will come to an end. What God can achieve if we are willing to be part of something bigger than us? Well, that is worth considering.
Let us each rest peacefully into God’s infinite power, allowing the divine hand to move us like so many strategic chess pieces. There is work to be done, each day and each moment, now and in the future. People will be hungry for God. They will be open to God. We must be prepared to offer him in a balanced, healthy way. We must lead with God’s infinite mercy and the fearsome and constant force of his love for every person ever created.
With love and with prayer,
Apostle of the Returning King
This consoled me and hopefully you. Make sure to share it with as many priests as you know, along with friends.