Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Looking Back

"No fuss, no fuss, Paris would be nice" so apparently said a Father of one of the Oratories for some Jubilee in his eighties, so apparently a whole gang of them got on Eurostar and headed off to Paris for lunch.
I hate fuss too. Yesterday was the thirtieth anniversary of my Ordination to the priesthood, I celebrated it as quietly possible, just me and a server assisting at Mass. As I get older I hate more and more 'Me' celebrations, especially those that merely indicate I am still alive - "prizes for breathing". Prayers are useful - congratulations I find a bit hollow.

Five years ago we celebrated my 25th anniversary, it is good to look back and see how much better our church looks and how much more beautiful our music is. Two of those serving are on their way to the priesthood, others in video have moved on, some to their Eternal reward, some like Segei who produced this video to other parts of the world, he is back Moscow, one man I received into the Church has apostatised as is now a Muslim.

Thanks to Gloriatv for preserving this archive video, of the celebration for my 25th Anniversary it is worth comparing the Church then to what is now.

Thirty years as a priest and I look back over all that time I wonder quite what I have done and what is of value. There is certainly a sense in which I envy those with a clutch of children and a loving wife, the loneliness of celibacy is painful at times but it roots us in the Cross, I am become increasingly convinced of the connection between celibacy, the Cross and the priesthood. The old Mass gives a clue to this mystery: everything I have done in communion with God, in muttered prayerful silence is of infinite and eternal value. Everything I have done without him is vain and valueless, and will pass away. The priestly things I have done, really the sacraments I have celebrated, will last forever. The priesthood itself only has meaning in its eschatological dimension, pointing to God and his Kingdom and the things that truly last.
When we undermine celibacy for example, when we downplay sanctifying grace or make our liturgy prosaic or trite we do serious damage.


Long-Skirts said...


Showed you Christ
All love unchained -

Holy Mass
For all, ordained -

The truth unfeigned -

Quiets souls
Of world insaned -

World's possessions
Not obtained -

Gained -

Sacred Body
Blood contained

Forever, daily

Thank you for being a good Priest!

Fr Dickson said...

"I become increasingly convinced of the connection between celibacy, the Cross and the priesthood."
I think this is the core of our vocation.
The sadness of having no wife and children is only magnified these days (I think) because parish priests live alone with no curates.I often wonder if a shared presbytery for priests of an area might be a good thing; we need not give up being parish priests, but simply a central presbytery. This just might provide some welcome support.
God Bless you, Father.

Calvin James Montgomery said...

Reverend and Dear Father,

I do not offer my congratulations, but rather prayerful and heartfelt thanks to God and our dear Mother for these 30 years of your priestly apostolate.

I thank them Father, as without your Priestly witness many other souls (such as myself) might never had the opportunity to learn and deepen our Faith and mover ever more closely to our heavenly goal.

Despite the human loneliness Father, all of us (readers of your blog)consider ourselves in some small way, your spiritual children.

I offer you my prayers on this wonderful occasion, may our Dear Lord bless you and our Mother keep you always.

Oremus pro Invicem

Johannesburg, South Africa

umblepie said...

Congratulations Father - thirty years a priest; thank you and thank God for all the graces and blessings that you have brought to so many people through your priesthood. May God bless you and Our Lady guard you in the years ahead.

animadversor said...

It is good that you mention the eschatological significance of celibacy. That is surely the principal reason for it. There is so much argument today about celibacy's practical value, and it just seems to be missing the main point.

Genty said...

Ad multos annos, Father.

JARay said...

I offer you my sincere congratulations on your 30th event. In fact I do keep you in my prayers and have done for several years.

James C. said...

God love you, Father! I was thrilled to discover recently a new affordable super off peak return ticket to Brighton from my home in Cambridge. I look forward to stopping by St Mary Magdalene for Sunday Mass more often now!

Lynda said...

It's good to explicitly and reflectively appreciate and celebrate one's priesthood at the major milestones in time. It is something the whole community has a share in - so it's a celebration for the members of that community too.

NBW said...

Congratulations Fr. Blake! Thank you for becoming a priest! May God Bless you always.

viterbo said...

Congratulations, Father, and a Rosary, too.

"The priesthood itself only has meaning in its eschatological dimension, pointing to God and his Kingdom and the things that truly last." I think this is exactly what the 'seeker' knows, understanding that Christ's priest is Crucial; and which is why the 'laicizing' of the priest to mere presider is lamentable.

"And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and to Antioch: Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith: and that through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God. And when they had ordained to them priests in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, in whom they believed."

maureen said...

"everything I have done in communion with God, in muttered prayerful silence is of infinite and eternal value. Everything I have done without him is vain and valueless, and will pass away."

Wonderful words - thank you for them and for your priesthood.

Seaneinn said...

Congratulations Father, will remember you in my prayers.

nickbris said...

Well done Father,I will probably just make it for your 40th

Bruvver Eccles said...

No congratulations then, just some prayers, Father. And many thanks for all you do.

Lazarus said...

May God bless you and all other faithful priests. Thank you. You will be in my prayers.

Nicolas Bellord said...

Well done Father. You wonder what you "have done and what is of value" - you cannot possibly know in this life but you will be amazed when you find out in the next.

efpastoremeritus2 said...

Ad multos annos.

Prayerful good wishes

The Bones said...

I thank God for your holy ministry and your marvellous witness to Christ.

polycarped said...

Prayers for you Father - in thanksgiving.

Savonarola said...

It sounds rather sad if celibacy and priesthood are rooted only in the cross. Is it not the resurrection, rather than the crucifixion alone, that is central to Christian faith and life?
I saw a short piece by a bishop on priestly life that picked out three elements in it to emphasise: suffering, sacrifice and self-denial. I couldn't help thinking that if this is what being a priest entails, it is no surprise if hardly anyone wants to take it on. Who in their right mind would? But is this really what priesthood is supposed to be about?

Liam Ronan said...

Congratulations to you, Father Blake, on the anniversary of your ordination to the priesthood.
Praise and glory to Almighty God for the graces He has bestowed on you and on us through your ministry.
I keep you in my prayers every day.

hughosb said...

I heartily concur with your sentiments about "me" celebrations. That said:

Ad Multos Annos!

Jacobi said...

you are doing an essential and splendid job Father and are much appreciated, here on earth, as well as above.

Once I Was A Clever Boy said...

Congratulations and good wishes on this anniversary. Your parish is very fortunate to have you as their priest and your readers are very fortunate to have you as an internet friend. I will offer my participation at Mass as my intention this evening for you.

Ttony said...

Ad multos annos! Prayers for you and in thanks for you.

Jacobi said...

Fr, if I may take up Fr Gibson’s point, that might help.

My own personal view is that it’s time our bishops faced up to the post-Vatican II collapse in numbers of clergy and Mass attenders. We have a totally inappropriate parish and church structure for the smaller and still dwindling (in spite of Polish immigration) Church in the UK. I can think of at least nine poorly attended churches, (fine for the pre-Vat II still growing Church Militant), often with “shared” priests within half an hour’s drive of where I live.

The number of parish churches should be drastically cut to a point where each church has a parish priest and curate and a full range of Catholic service can be made available to that parish. This is already happening in some dioceses but in the usual mishandled, half-hearted manner.

After all, we nearly all have cars these days and lifts can easily be arranged for the few who don’t.

Pablo the Mexican said...

Querido Reverendo Padre Blake,

Congratulations on the thirtieth anniversary of your Priesthood.

For your consideration:
I entrust this whole matter in the hands of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, “Mother of the Priest par excellence, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and through Him, of all priests in whom she forms her Son”.

Our Lady forms Priests as a sculptor forms clay.

Some clay is too dry, and lifeless, and must be discarded, and so on.

Then some clay is rich, just as men that are rich in Faith, and Charity in their hearts for Our Divine Master.

These are those that make great Padres, Saints.

They walk into the places where Sin has dared enter, even into the House of Our Lord, where the altars have been overturned and changed, where sacred objects have been profaned, or thrown into the trash; Calvary is no longer recognizable .

They return the Church to a worthy place for the Blessed Sacrament, and from there they call out to Our Lord's lost sheep.

Some wander in, sinful, lonely, smelling of sweet perfumes, or the smells of abject poverty; our Good Padre washes their souls and cares for them as Our Lady wishes them to be cared for, in the same manner of Love her Son had when He cried out

"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they are doing"

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is Calvary recreated.

You have opened the gates of Heaven by saying the True Mass.
The altar you have built will be the one where the Holy Angels will come gather your soul oneday.

Keep it free of heresy and heretics, and heretical practices.

Que Dios te bendiga.


Pablo the Mexican said...

The Bride of Christ is also the Bride of Priests.

All the children of the world are children of Our Lord, as well the children of the Priest.

Each and everyone of them on the planet.

People that see 'unmarried' Priests as sad and lonely men wasting their life in a celibate Priesthood stand with Judas as he watched the Sinner wash Our Lord's feet with her tears and expensive perfume.

What a sad bunch of 'Believers'.


Terry Nelson said...

Happy anniversary Father. Celibacy is indeed lonely - always know you are not alone though - there are other celibates shouldering the same cross. I don't mean to diminish your comment - just want you to know you aren't alone.

epsilon said...

God bless you Father and thank you for being a priest.

viterbo said...

@Savonarola - well, the Church has managed for most of her life to have great numbers of men willing to take on that sacrifice. Perhaps it has something to do with the Holy Ghost giving men their vocation and the Church properly nurturing the same, rather than it being poo-pooed.

Lola said...

Happy Anniversary, Father! Wishing you blessings every single day of your priestly life and pray to Our Lady to watch over you, keeping you close to Her heart and to Her Son.

John Vasc said...

Dear Father,
Here - as a small form of thanks for all your fine work - is a little 37-minute musical bouquet: Palestrina's Missa Papae Marcelli of 1562, the musical emblem of the Council of Trent, and (if we're to believe the legend) Palestrina's proof to Cardinal Borromeo that the polyphonic style could be both verbally intelligible and reverently Roman.


If you haven't time to sit and listen, just put it on in the background. I find listening to it once a day acts as a sort of spiritual air purifier: it's very cheering.

David O'Neill said...

Ad Multos Annos, Fr Blake. I regularly read & enjoy your blog here 'oop North' on Tyneside.

Damask Rose said...

Happy Anniversary Fr Ray. May you have another thirty years as a priest!

Thank you for witnessing to the priestly life and celibacy.

Savonarola said...

Vitbero, I think you rather missed the point I was trying to make. I was not pooh-poohing anything, nor making any comment on what may or may not have attracted people to be priests over the centuries. I would imagine, however, that there must have been some element of resurrection joy and would suggest that it is that that should central to any Christian vocation. It is the lack of any mention of it in the blog and comments, and the heavy emphasis on the cross and suffering alone, that I find sad.

Father John Boyle said...

Congratulations Father, prayers of thanksgiving and for continued blessings upon your priestly ministry. The Cross of celibacy is made so much lighter thanks to the love of the people and the time we are able to spend alone with Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.

lizard said...

Dear Father, congratulations. You are always in our prayers.

Here is an additional link to the Mass, from Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=XdhIg8AcpfE