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.

 

+ 30 September 2014

Homily by Father Xavier Perrin

(Prior of Quarr Abbey)

on the occasion of his

Silver Jubilee of Ordination to Priesthood

 

What a joy to be a priest! What a joy to share with you the special jubilation of today!

And first of all, what a joy that we have a priest! Jesus, the “apostle and high priest of our confession” (He 3:1), made himself “like his brethren in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest of God” and “make expiation for the sins of the people” (2:17). He “entered once for all into the Holy Place, taking” “his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption” (9:12). “By a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified” (10:14). Now, because of Christ’s sacrifice, because of his loving offering to the Father for us all on the Cross, “we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way which he opened for us” (10:19-20). We can “draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (4:16). Jesus, raised from the dead and seated at the right hand of the Father, “is able to save those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them” (7:25). Jesus is the High Priest of the new and eternal covenant. The everlasting bond of peace and mercy between God and man is founded on the loving sacrifice of the Cross. There is one Priest: Jesus. All priests are one in his unique priesthood and unique sacrifice. There is but one mass. Each time a priest says mass, Jesus Himself offers His sacrifice. How could not we be grateful for Christ’s priesthood? Through Him, we have access to God. The door of salvation is opened. There is a limit to the power of evil in the world: the mercy of God who led Christ to offer Himself for us all. Nothing can “separate us from the love of God” (Rom 8:39).

 

What a joy that we have priests! What a joy that Jesus entrusted to poor and feeble men the marvellous sacrament of His priesthood. Through them, He deigns to be present and to act for our salvation. I do not remember the priest who baptised me; I do not even know his name, although he gave me the most precious gift I ever received. But I can remember so many priests in my Christian life. I owe to them so much! They taught me the word of God, they forgave my sins, they gave me the Bread of Life, they guided me by their example and their advice. Most especially, I think of my late Uncle, my mother’s brother. I remember his dignity and his joy in the liturgy, his beautiful voice and his fine homilies, and above all his obvious love of Christ, his humble trust in God’s mercy. I think also of the priests who guided me when I was making my way, as it were, towards monastic life. There was this very old one, when I was a student in Paris. He was really a character, but was so full of love that you would always find a queue when he heard confessions. When I was ordained, I once concelebrated with him. “You will preach”, he told me. So I did. When I had finished, he came to the pulpit and said in a loud voice “Thank you, Xavier, you preached well”. And he went on with a second homily much longer than mine (and probably much better)! When you think of such priests, you find only one word: Love. They celebrated mass, heard confessions, taught catechism, received and assisted all sorts of people, and they prayed, they prayed so much. They really became what they celebrated; they were identified with the love of the One they represented and announced, Jesus, our unique priest.

What a joy to be a priest! What an amazing thing: me, the poor man, the poor sinner I know so well, called by God to be the shepherd of his flock! I remember the mass I celebrated on the morrow of my ordination. For the first time, I stood alone facing the congregation. I gaze at them, the people of God, the Holy Church of God. And they were facing me, obviously gazing through me towards Christ. Together with Christ, the Church is the great love of the priest’s heart. The priest is always fascinated by the faith of the Christian people. It is so beautiful to hear confession, to be the humble witness of the humility and the faith of the man or the woman who asks for God’s forgiveness, and to be able, by the grace of the sacrament, to say him or her: Go in peace! It is so beautiful to see the work of God in the hearts of Christian men and women! What a joy to celebrate mass, to do the very simple gesture of Jesus breaking the bread and presenting the chalice, to offer in the name of the Church the good works and all the sufferings of humankind, and to mingle their offering with the only sacrifice of Christ; to melt them within the mystery of Love! What a joy to give oneself up wholly as the drop of water in the chalice of Christ’s blood, and to become day after day a living offering to the glory of the Father.

I shall never thank enough for the grace of priesthood I received 25 years ago. Sinner though I am, I can but sing with Mary a Magnificat of praise to the Father. Join with me, dear Brothers in priesthood, and all of you Brethren! Let us give thanks for the gift of priesthood entrusted by Christ to His beloved Church. Let us pray that many young men may listen to Jesus’s call to serve Him as priests. Let us be offered by the hands of our High Priest Jesus, so that he may make of us by His Spirit an eternal offering to the glory of the Father.


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