As we are already a month and a half into the Year for Priests, we arrive on August 4 at the Feast Day of the Year-the 150th Anniversary of the death of St. John Marie Vianney, patron of priests. On that day, the faithful can gain a plenary indulgence by attending Mass, receiving Holy Communion and praying for priests. There will be a special Mass for this intention at 7:00 PM on Tuesday evening, followed by an opportunity for every parishioner to spiritually adopt a priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit. All are encouraged to attend and participate in this very important Mass and prayer for priests. While some of the priests here at Grotto will be celebrating Holy Mass at other parishes that day, we all will still be gathered around the one altar of the Lord and united through the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
Through such special years dedicated to some dimension of our Catholic faith, all of us benefit by uniting ourselves in a particular way in prayer with the Church Militant, the Church Suffering, and the Church Triumphant. In the Vatican II document, Presbyterorum ordinis, the Magisterium calls all of the Faithful to assist their priests: “The Christian faithful, for their part, should realize their obligations to their priests, and with filial love they should follow them as their pastors and fathers. In like manner, sharing their cares, they should help their priests by prayer and work insofar as possible so that their priests might more readily overcome difficulties and be able to fulfill their duties more fruitfully.” Certainly the Faithful at Assumption Grotto fulfill this duty in a laudable manner both spiritually and materially.
In his 1986 Holy Thursday Letter to Priests, Pope John Paul wrote, “ ‘The priest must always be ready to respond to the needs of souls,’ said the Cure of Ars. ‘He is not for himself, he is for you.’ The priest is for the laity: he animates them and supports them in the exercise of the common priesthood of the baptized-so well illustrated by the Second Vatican Council-which consists in their making their lives a spiritual offering, in witnessing to the Christian spirit in the family, in taking charge of the temporal sphere and sharing in the evangelization of their brethren. But the service of the priest belongs to another order. He is ordained to act in the name of Christ the Head, to bring people into the new life made accessible by Christ, to dispense to them the mysteries-the Word, forgiveness, the Bread of Life-to gather them into his body, to help them to form themselves from within, to live and to act according to the saving plan of God. In a word, our identity as priests is manifested in the “creative” exercise of the love for souls communicated by Christ Jesus. Attempts to make the priest more like the laity are damaging to the Church. This does not mean in any way that the priest can remain remote from the human concerns of the laity: he must be very near to them, as John Mary Vianney was, but as a priest, always in a perspective which is that of their salvation and of the progress of the Kingdom of God. He is the witness and the dispenser of a life other than earthly life. It is essential to the Church that the identity of the priest be safeguarded, with its vertical dimension. The life and personality of the Curé of Ars are a particularly enlightening and vigorous illustration of this (1986 Holy Thursday, section 10).
As is the case with many commemorations and feast days, we will have a second opportunity to invoke the intercession of the Curé D’Ars this week as the Extraordinary Liturgical Calendar places his feast day on Saturday, August 8. Please be sure to encourage those you know who might not be aware of this special week to participate in the special graces offered to all the faithful.
We are still in need of volunteers for the August 15 activities-contact the parish office if you are able to help. Thank you to those who have been working so diligently these past weeks to prepare the parish for our Patronal Feast Day.
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The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church; it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!