Yes indeed, because from Christ’s Mystical Body, the Church, waterfalls, rivers of divine graces flow towards His chosen priests: divine charismata, the grace proper to the sacrament of Holy Orders, the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit, as Paul VI said: “the mysterious and miraculous totality of divine powers, such as that of proclaiming the Word of God, or the power to resurrect dead souls to the life of grace, and, above all, the power to immolate Jesus, the Victim of our redemption, in His real and sacramental presence in the Mass.” (1)
1. The mysterious and miraculous totality of divine powers: the first power is that of proclaiming the Word of God
The Word of God has many features:
- It’s not a book, even though it comes in the form of a book. We could say that it is a library. As Saint Jerome put it: “Indeed, by constant reading and long-continued meditation he had made his breast a library of Christ.” (2)
- Although we look at Sacred Scripture as though it were something lifeless, as though it were dead, the Word of God is something living. It is as the Apostle Paul says: “Indeed, the word of God is living” (Heb 4:12). Why is it living? It lives because it was inspired by the Holy Spirit, and it is that same Holy Spirit who continues giving life to each and every word of Sacred Scripture.
- Since the Word of God is living, it is also effective, meaning that it has many beneficial effects on the soul. This happens even today: it spurs conversions, leads to decisions about a vocation, gives rise to missionary vocations. . . . It makes us learn to love God and the things of God all the more.
- The Word of God is living and effective: it has such an efficacy that it penetrates the soul, and not in just any old way; rather, it penetrates the soul like a two-edged sword. We’ve just read this in the Letter to the Hebrews: The word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart. No creature is concealed from him, but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must render an account (Heb 4:12-13).This is why the Apostle places the sword of the word among the spiritual weapons that a Christian should use: And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Eph 6:17). This is why the priest must learn to be a good swordsman, to know how to use that sword. It is a two-edged sword, a penetrating sword; it is with this sword that the Lord’s battles should be fought, even today. Even today, it’s so effective that it’s able to bring us to victory!
- The Word of God also gives nourishment. Just as we must partake from the table of the Eucharist, eating the Lord’s Body and Blood, we must also learn to eat at the table of the Word, making the Word of God our own. Since the Word of God gives nourishment, it, like the Eucharist, also strengthens and sustains. This is why Our Lord Jesus Christ, rejecting the devil’s temptations, said, One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God (Mt 4:4).
- Scripture is sacred. Just as no one will mix unconsecrated hosts with consecrated ones, since these later ones are sacred, nor should we mix our merely human interpretation of the Scriptures with the true understanding of what is sacred, with what is truly the Word of God.
- It is a Word that is greater than me; it is above me. As Jesus said, Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away (Mt 24:35).
- It is a Word that was before me; it came before I existed, and it will continue to exist after me. I’ll die, but the Word of God will continue living eternally.
- It is a Word that is transcends me. I can interpret it, pray with it, live contemplating it, and yet the Word of God will always be an inexhaustible Font; I’ll never be able to exhaust it. I’ll drink of it more and more, and the fount will not run out. Since the fount won’t dry up, my desire to drink will grow greater and greater, and I will take advantage of that Font all the more, and the Word of God will continue to transcend me. This is why Saint Thomas of Aquinas said: “The Holy Spirit made Sacred Scripture fertile with a truth more plentiful than men can comprehend.” (3)
- What is the distinguishing mark of the Word of God? What is it that makes the Word of God something absolutely unique and one-of-a-kind? The Word of God has God as its primary author. (4) Thus, the human author, or authors: Moses, David, Isaish, Matthew, John, Paul, Peter . . . wrote (pay attention to these words) everything and only those things which God wanted them to. Sacred Scripture contains what God has wanted to reveal, and so the Word of God must be received, first of all, with faith. We must always open our souls when we open Sacred Scripture. We must open our hearts, our minds, and our souls so that as we read, those words become engraved in our hearts, our minds, and our souls. When we do this—and this is something you really have to experience—the Word of God because sweeter than honey, just as the Book of Sirach says: You will remember me as sweeter than honey, better to have than the honeycomb (24:20).
- This is why the Word of God is a lamp that shines its light on everything. As another Psalm says: For you, LORD, give light to my lamp; my God brightens my darkness. (Ps 18:29), and God brightens our darkness by means of His Word.
- The Word of God also comforts the soul. It consoles the sad soul, the soul who is suffering from temptations, the soul who doesn’t know where to go: in Scripture the soul finds a light for its path, favorable words, comforting words, as Zechariah 1:3 says. (5) Thus, with the endurance and encouragement that the Scriptures give us, we maintain our hope: the Scriptures give us hope, encouragement, and endurance.
- The Bible is like a pharmacy where we can find suitable remedies for our illnesses. This is what Saint Gregory Nazianzen called it. (6)
2. The mysterious and miraculous totality of divine powers: the second power is the power to resurrect dead souls to the life of grace
If today, on the day of his first Mass, the newly ordained priest could see the line, that colorful, endless, zigzagging line of all the men, women, elderly, youth, and children, from so many different places, whom he would hear in confession throughout the years of his priesthood and to whom, one after one, he would give absolution in the name and with the power of Jesus Christ, the priest would be utterly amazed at the overwhelming length of that line of innumerable penitents.
When many years have passed, he’ll take a look back and see that long and unceasing line; the Holy Spirit will move in his heart, and a happiness beyond all comparison will overcome his soul because he cooperated in the salvation of so many souls.
3. The mysterious and miraculous totality of divine powers: thirdly, and above all, is the power to immolate Jesus, the Victim of our redemption, in His real and sacramental presence in the Mass
That waterfall of powers which the newly ordained priest just received by the imposition of the bishop’s hands completely bursts forth when he take the bread and the chalice and, with the very words of Jesus Himself and with the Holy Spirit’s action, he transubstantiates them into the Lord’s Body and Blood, together with His Soul and Divinity. He gives us the Bread of Angels which nourishes our souls, gives us strength to continue fighting the good fight of this life, instills in us the hope of heaven and of eternal life, perpetuates the sacrifice of the Cross, and applies the merits Christ won on Calvary to our souls, because that sacrifice satisfies the Father and reconciles us with Him; it rescues and redeems us.
There is nothing in the world greater than the Mass!
My dear brothers and sisters:
We must learn to let ourselves be overwhelmed by the greatness of the Catholic priesthood as founded by our Lord Jesus Christ. Throughout the course of over 2000 years, and “in spite of painful negative cases,” His priesthood has carried out heroic deeds and great epics for the glory of God alone and the good of men and nations.
We must also learn to let ourselves be overwhelmed by the incomparable greatness of the Holy Mass which will be multiplied throughout the world by Fr. Alwin (Anbu) and Fr. Brian (Dinkel), and all other priests who are and will be.
From their parents, family members, and friends, we ask for your prayers for them, now and always. In a special and profound way, we thank you all, in particular the parents, for your generosity in surrendering them to God for the good of mankind. You’ve never been parents as much as you are in these moments.
May Mary, the Mother of the High, Principal, and Eternal Priest, Mother of all ministerial priests and Mother of all those who are priests by baptism, accompany, protect, guide, help, and enliven them on their pilgrimage to heaven.
(1) Paul VI, Homily on the 12th World Day of Prayer for Vocations, April 20th, 1975.
(2) St. Jerome, Ep. ad Heliodorum, LX, 10.
(3) II Sent, 12, 1, 2, ad 7: “majori veritate eam spiritus sanctus fecundavit quam aliquis homo adinvenire possit.”
(4) cfr. Dei Verbum 11.
(5) Ps 119:105; cf. Zech 1:13. – Trans. note.
(6) Cfr. Epist. 2,3; PG 32, 228 BC; cited by Tomas Spidlik, Ignacio di Loyola e la spiritualitá orientale, Roma 1994, 16-17: “ἀρρωστήματι φάρμακον.”