In early times, the daily Chapter was a traditional feature of the monastic timetable. The monks left church at the end of the office of Prime and processed to a room near by, where a portion, or "chapter," of the Rule was read and the abbot commented upon it. It was also the natural occasion for announcements to be made affecting the life of the community and for a blessing to be given upon the day's work. Soon the room itself came to be called "the Chapter Room, or House" or simply "Chapter." Even today some form of this practice exists in many monasteries, including our own. Each month this page will feature a chapter talk given to the Community, as well as news and features. We hope you will visit us regularly.

 

9th October 2014

Bl. John Henry Newman

Celebrating the Silver Jubilee of Priesthood of FatherXavier Perrin

 (30th September 1989-2014)

 

2 Tim 4: 1-5
Jn 15: 9-17

 

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you: abide in my love.” (Jn 15:9)

What a marvellous summary of the Gospel! The Gospel is the movement of Love which originates from the Father, goes through Jesus, and finally reaches us. In turn, we are enabled to reach God with the love He Himself gave to us.

When we get into this movement by faith and baptism, all is done on God’s side. As the Father loved His only begotten Son, so the Son loved us. The Creation, Incarnation, Cross and Resurrection, Ascension and Second coming are moments of the same and unique act of the eternal love of the Father generating His Son. When the Son is exalted on the Cross, all are able to know that He loves His Father and does what His Father commanded Him (Jn 14:31). All can be sure that the Father “so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son” (Jn 3:16). All is done.

The Mass teaches us and makes present and efficient for us the complete action of God, all that God has done for the salvation of man. The priest’s main task is to perform the sacramental actions by which Christ’s sacrifice, continually offered to the Father “on the altar on high”, is manifested and offered on earth, today, for this community and for the whole Church. The Mass tells us precisely that: the Father has loved the Son, and the Son has loved us. The mission of the priest consists mainly in witnessing to this very truth: Jesus has loved you, He has loved everybody. The priest shows us Jesus’s Cross, the sign and the proof of His love. On the Cross, Jesus gave Himself up for us in order to express to us the eternal love by which He loved us, created us, redeemed us, and called us to sit with Him on His throne provided we accept to follow Him to His cross.

Would that the priest himself were wholly seized by Jesus’s love! Would that his heart were burning with the flame of love which comes from Jesus, with the fire of love that is to enkindle the whole world! In the quiet and simplicity of contemplative life as well as in the whirlwind of intense pastoral ministry, one single thing is expected from the priest: that he be burning with divine love.

Obviously the priest will have to be a man of prayer, asking from God the great gift of charity. And of course, this love will be given to him by God who called him. Often, love is given in prayer itself or during the celebration of the divine mysteries. But the priest finds charity also in the heart of the Christian community, among the faithful to whom he is ministering. The quality of charity within the community draws the priest himself to a deeper love of Christ and to a more profound commitment to the mysteries he celebrates. Between the priest and the community, there is a dialogue of charity, a constant and mutual support. The priest is father in love of the community entrusted to him. But the community too can be called mother of the priest by its love for Christ.

A community of charity like yours, dear Sisters, is a source of love for the heart of many priests: not only those who have the privilege to say mass in your church, but for many others whose love is sustained and fostered by the gift you make of yourself to God’s loving will in your life of obedience, charity, work and liturgical celebration.

As a priest, I am happy to thank you for being the “heart of the Church”, as Little Thérèse famously said, she who somehow presided at my ordination and first mass – the first on the anniversary of her death and the second on her liturgical feast-day. Let us listen to her words:

“The vocation of a Priest! With what love, my Jesus, would I bear you in my hand, when my words brought you down from Heaven! With what love would I give you to souls!” That is for me.

“I knew that the Church has a heart, that this heart burns with love, and that it is love alone which gives life to its members. I knew that if this love were extinguished, the Apostles would no longer preach the Gospel, and the Martyrs would refuse to shed their blood.” That is for you.

“I understood that love embraces all vocations, that it is all things, and that it reaches out through all the ages, and to the uttermost limits of the earth, because it is eternal.” That is for us all, because “as the Father has loved us”, so Jesus loved us too. His love is the place where we wish to abide for ever.


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