* Year of the First Priest
* Devotion to the Sacred Heart
* Fatima Evening in Alabama
* Spirituality in the Message of Fatima
* Letter From a Converted Catholic Physician
* From the Lie of Contraception to 19 Children
* Why Not Altar Boys?
* St. John Vianney Patron for All Priests
* Should We Homeschool?
* Saint John Berchmans
* The Loss of Masculinity
* Questions & Answers
* News Briefs & Comments
* Editorial - The Year of the Priest
The Year of the Priest
For the "Year of the Priest" this issue features the Sacred Heart of Jesus and St. John Vianney, model for all priests. His life exemplifies the Heart of Jesus to which every good priest should aspire. Pope Benedict desires to inspire many young men to consider seriously the vocation to Christ's holy priesthood. Parents in their families and priests in their parishes should be focused on the Eucharist. Awareness of the Mass as the Sacrifice of the Cross perpetuated and devotion to the REAL PRESENCE OF JESUS in the Eucharist teaches volumes on the dignity of the holy priesthood. When the Eucharist is the center of Catholic family life, there will be many sons discerning whether Jesus is calling them to the priesthood. We cannot have the Eucharist unless we have the priesthood. We are the Church of the Eucharist. JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF COMMANDED US TO PRAY FOR SUCH VOCATIONS." Pray you the Lord of Harvest..."(Mat. 9:37-38) (Luke 10:2)
I was taught as a young boy: "the vocation to the holy priesthood of Jesus Christ is the greatest vocation in the world. A Catholic boy can become greater in his vocation than any position or office in the United States if he answers the call to the priesthood." I believed it then. I still do. I still remember the moment my mother suggested the priesthood to me. I was standing on a bench near the kitchen table where our family ate. My mother asked me, "What are you going to do when you grow up?" As I remember, I was not yet in the first grade. My answer was evasive. Then my mother said: "I thought you might grow up to be another Father O'Meara." He was our pastor and the only one I looked to as a father as my biological father died when I had just turned one year old.
Mother's suggestion was like a fire ignited in my heart. In my mind and heart I responded: "Oh! Yes. That would be great to be like Father O'Meara - so good, kind, and be at the altar like he does. Then I could raise up that large Host who is Jesus and that golden chalice with the Blood of Jesus in it." I never lost that burning desire all the way through grade or high school. My mother wisely never pressed me on it but after I was ordained, told me: "Your father and I prayed for this." From about five or six years of age to 18, it was my secret shared only with Jesus, Mary and my Guardian Angel. I did not tell any of my family, or cousins or close friends. The secret was too sacred to talk about. I would go to the church alone as a boy, when my mother took me along from our farm to town to do shopping. She'd say, "Meet me back here in two hours." I never told her or others how I spent those hours. I would go close to the front, and look at the tabernacle. I experienced power from the Eucharist. The fire and tug in my heart was intensifying with the years. Christ's power from the Eucharist drew me. Alone in Church with Jesus, I'd get up at times, walk to the beautiful altar of Our Lady of Grace, and kneel. I would talk to Mary. She communicated love to me, then sent me back to Jesus in the tabernacle.
Last April 24th, I began my 55th year in Christ's holy priesthood. Yet, I feel in my heart like I'm still a young priest, filled with the desire to teach all whom I can about the fullness of true faith, especially about the Eucharist. Here at Mother Angelica's Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament where it seems the world comes sooner or later, I am able to speak to many of all ages. I meet young men discerning "whether Jesus Christ is calling them to His holy priesthood." I offer each Mass daily as if it were my first or last Mass. For many years I've prayed that I will have offered the holy Sacrifice of the Mass my last day on earth. The Eucharist is my life. I want it to be the center of every Christian's life. When I was asked to write the story of my life, and the Blessed Mother suggested the title, A PRIEST IS A PRIEST FOREVER, I wrote 336 pages. It is my prayer that this book will inspire parents to encourage vocations to the priesthood and boys and young men prayerfully to discern whether Jesus Christ is saying: "Come follow Me. ...You have not chosen Me, I have chosen you." A priest is called to give his whole heart to Jesus. Ideally it should be capped with living total consecration to Mary.
I begin each new day with gratitude and joy, able to offer and adore our Eucharistic Lord. Then I renew the act of total consecration to Mary. I want to tell the world about Jesus, about the fullness of true faith. That why I wrote over 50 books but I have more to share. My latest book is: EUCHARIST: HEAVEN AND EARTH UNITE. Mother Angelica, here at the Shrine where I offer daily Mass, wrote its preface. I appreciate when many relate what this book is doing for them. Hopefully, it too will inspire vocations to the priesthood. RJF