Happy Priests’ Day! (or, Why a world without priests is a sad, sad place)

I was late for the Chrism Mass today at the Manila Cathedral.

I was at the threshold of the centuries-old church (rebuilt several times after wars and destructive earthquakes), where I could only see the Mass presided by Cardinal Tagle, but not hear it.

The Last Supper, the First Mass. Today priests continue to make Christ present in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. By Juan de Juanes (c. 1560). Image from artbible.info

The Last Supper, the First Mass. Today priests continue to make Christ present in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Juan de Juanes (c. 1560). Image from artbible.info

Marshals already closed the glass doors when people inside already occupied most of the back area. Unlucky, tardy me. It was too warm in my spot and some of the crowd were already beginning to complain, like the Hebrews at Massah. It was impossible to participate in the Mass properly.

I left.

Lo and behold, a large crowd had already gathered at the plaza outside the minor basilica. Many were holding streamers congratulating their respective parish priests. “Happy Priests’ Day!” one banner seemed to shout.

And I have to agree: it is Priests’ Day, although technically there is no such Day. But what we commemorate today — the Institution of the Holy Eucharist, and therefore the priesthood — kinda justifies it. It’s a day for our priests, our confessors!

The world would be such a sad place if Jesus — the One Eternal Priest — didn’t institute the priesthood. Imagine a world without priests:

  • No sanctifying grace — channeled through Baptism and Confession — which allows us to share in God’s very life and nature
  • No Blessed Sacrament — the physical and real presence of Jesus Christ in the world!
  • No Pope, who is the visible head of the Church, leading us by concrete words and actions to God
  • No grace given to married couples, who need supernatural strength to overcome the difficulties of married life
  • No spiritual strength and peace given to the ill through the Anointing of the Sick
  • No blessing for homes and other buildings, which may be hosting demons
  • No exorcism (because, as Pope Francis says, the devil is real and denying its existence is being naive)
  • No spiritual guidance given by men who are specially blessed by God and completely dedicated to Him and His Church
  • No Holy Mass — the most amazing thing that can ever happen on earth (an infinite number of beautiful universes is nothing compared to a simple Mass), where God gives Himself and become truly, really, and substantially present!

St John Mary Vianney, Patron of Priests, said it perfectly when he remarked that “the Priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus” (quoted in CCC 1589).

Happy Priests’ Day!

PS. Pray — especially today — that all our priests be truly faithful, holy, and happy. (Didn’t I say it’s Happy Priests’ Day?) 😛

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