May 22, 2013
By Father William Muench
During the month of May, many of the priests of our diocese celebrate the anniversary of their priestly ordination. My congratulations to them all!
I was ordained a priest with six others, many years ago, this month. So my congratulations to my classmates, also!
Finally, I want to congratulate and wish my best to Deacon Scott Belina, who will be ordained a priest this week. Our diocese is very blessed to have a new priest!
Each year, as I approach my own anniversary, I take some time to remember the many blessings the Lord has given to me as a priest. I have been blest with many great assignments. God has been good to me, giving me opportunities to make a difference to many.
This is especially through the sacraments. I have been privileged to celebrate the sacraments of the Church with so many families and individuals – Sunday Mass, funerals, weddings, Baptisms, Reconciliation – even Confirmation at the Easter Vigil.
Priesthood is about sacraments: celebrating the sacraments of the Church in faith and celebrating these sacraments with so many families and individuals that I remember so well.
Today, I am thinking of one of the more meaningful times for me as a priest – that is a “sick call.” This is a call to visit a home or the hospital to administer the Anointing of the Sick to someone ill or preparing for surgery or someone near to death.
Just last week, I received such an evening call. A friend of a family in her neighborhood called to ask me to visit this family – a 93 year old mother was very ill and doing poorly. I must confess to you that it was at a rather inconvenient moment for me – I was actually tempted to say, how about tomorrow. However, I knew that that was unacceptable. Since I was not familiar with this family’s residence, the friend offered to accompany me.
The family welcomed me. They were anxious but obviously faith-filled and pleased that a priest had come. I was introduced to all. The whole family was there – this was a well-loved person. They were all close to her.
Their faith was obvious in welcoming a priest to bring this sacrament of the Church, a sacrament that they knew would bring support and peace to their mother. I noticed that it brought support and comfort to the family as well, something that often happens.
We joined around her bed. She was in a deep sleep and the family joined me in the prayers.
I anointed her and prayed for God’s love to strengthen her in this critical moment in life.
Then the ritual of the Church invites me to offer the Prayer of Final Commendation. These prayers send a dying person to the Lord. At the same time, they invite a family to entrust their loved one to the Lord.
Each time I say these prayers over a dying person, I offer a personal prayer that I will be ready, peacefully prepared when my time comes. “Go forth, Christian soul, from this world…May you live in peace this day, may your home be with God in Zion.”
So today I think of my task as a priest – to bring peace the lives of people – wherever and whenever I can.
Each of the sacraments is a time of calling down the Lord’s peace. This is the peace that I must find in my own journey – through my faith in the God who loves me first – through my faith in Jesus who promised peace to all who follow him – through my faith in the Holy Spirit, whose power and love will enflame peace in me.
If I am to give peace – and help others to find the peace of the Lord, I must have discovered this peace in my own life. Each of the sacraments that I am allowed to administer are unique opportunities for me to bring God’s love and peace to all who need me.
So, on this anniversary of my priestly ordination, I thank God for this calling.
Thank you, Lord, for my priesthood – may I truly be your priest and bring your peace to this world. Strengthen my faith that I may be a priest of peace.