What Would St. Francis Say About a ‘Year of the Priesthood’

Paul Keggington

June 07, 2009

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On June 6, 2009 Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity were present for the Diocese of Green Bay, WI, Priestly Ordination of Fr. Timothy Brandt at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral, Green Bay, WI.

With Pope Benedict XVI’s declaration that  June 19, 2009 – June 19, 2010 is the “Year of the Priesthood”, it may be timely to ask the question: “What would St. Francis say about a year dedicated to the theme ‘Faithfulness of Christ, Faithfulness of the Priest'”?

  • A study of the early documents reveals St. Francis’ own thoughts about the clergy/priesthood in his time…

We must also frequently visit churches and venerate and revere the clergy not so much for themselves, if they are sinners, but because of their office and administration of the most holy Body and Blood of Christ which they sacrifice upon the altar, receive and administer to others… (Later Admonition and Exhortation, 1220?)

Afterwards the Lord gave me, and gives me still, such faith in priests who live according to the rite of the holy Roman Church because of their orders that, were they to persecute me, I would still want to have recourse to them. And if I had as much wisdom as Solomon and found impoverished priests of this world, I would not preach in their parishes against their will. And I desire to respect, love and honor them and all others as my lords. And I do not want to consider any sin in them because I discern the Son of God in them and they are my lords. And I act in this way because, in this world, I see nothing corporally of the most high Son of God except His most holy Body and Blood which they receive and they alone administer to others. I want to have these most holy mysteries honored and venerated above all things and I want to reserve them in precious places. Wherever I find our Lord’s most holy names and written words in unbecoming places, I want to gather them up and I beg that they be gathered up and placed in a becoming place. And we must honor all theologians and those who minister the most holy divine words and respect them as those who minister to us spirit and life. (The Testament, 1226)

Can you find other references?

  • St. Francis, a man of joy, loved festivity. (Leave it to this saint of frivality to immerce himself into creating a nativity scene to celebrate the Incarnation.) It would seem in character for Franciscans to enjoy any ecclesial celebration heart-fully.

What do you think? Since followers of St. Francis and St. Clare are called to focus on Jesus and the Gospel in our current day, how do you feel called to celebrate this year of the priesthood?

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