Primatial See of Caer-Glow The Most Reverend
Primatial See of Caer-Glow
The Most Reverend
ADVENT PASTORAL. 1995
Dearly Beloved in Christ:
In my pastoral letter one year ago, I made a point of telling you that I have always tried to be an optimist -- something I believe is essential to the priesthood. As I prepare this letter, I am filled with a great optimism over the prospects of enriching the priestly ranks of our small spiritual Communion.
So often we have all prayed for vocations to the priesthood, but these seem to have eluded us -- as vocations have in so many other religious bodies these many years. Oh, there are many men who have come to call to "invite" me to lay hands on them, but these are men whom I have deemed to be ill suited for the sacred priesthood. I would rather we remain "starved" for vocations than to lay hands on those who have not a sense of commitment and genuine zeal for the priesthood by tending unselfishly and scrupulously to our Blessed Lord's flock here on this earth.
On December 8, I will have the joy of tonsuring three men who are about to begin -- begin again in two cases, their studies for the sacred priesthood. This is quite unique for me. Never before in my twenty years as a bishop have I either tonsured or imposed hands on more than one person during the same ceremony. Three is a goodly number. Adding to that number our current seminarian, that will give us four men actively engaged in priestly preparation. Let us all rejoice for this blessing.
As I grow older, I am of course more deeply concerned about our priestly ranks when I am no longer here on this earth. All of our churches need additional priests. It is the greatest responsibility of any bishop-ordinary.
As we watch these men pursue their studies, we ask Almighty God that they may, as did His Divine Son here on earth, "grow in wisdom and grace before God and Man." Each of us has an obligation to pray for priestly vocations. Each of us has an obligation to do all in his power to help these men in their pursuit of the priesthood. There is no assurance, however, that all or even one of these men will in fact ultimately attain to the priesthood, no matter how much preparation is entailed. Only God knows.
Every priest is "Another Christ." He must spend his entire lifetime, both in preparation for the priesthood and in the priesthood itself, attempting with everything that is in him, in trying to be that other self of Jesus Christ. Is it any wonder than that the commitment is so slow, the harvest so scant, the perseverance so lacking in the men of our time? But with our prayers and encouragement, we can help these men -- whomever God will choose, to attain to this greatest of all vocations on this earth.
May this significant event in the life of our Communion be that "second spring" of which John Henry, Cardinal Newman wrote so eloquently more than a hundred years ago. May this holy season of Advent, which ushers in a kind of renewal of our Blessed Lord's assuming our humanity, be also the advent of our priests' and seminarians' truly assuming a more Christ-like stance in fulfilling their roles in His Church.
May the sweet Babe of Bethlehem bless you and bless those of us who labor among you to bring God's kingdom here on this earth.
With every good wish and prayerful blessing, I am devotedly yours in Christ,
+ John J. Humphreys