Reminding priest’s first Mass
Fr Ireneusz Skubis
Recently I have heard a discussion of priests whether the Year for Priests announced by Benedict XVI is a year of priesthood or a year for priests. For it is very important to focus on the essence of priesthood, i.e. priesthood as such. This is a big topic – Holy Orders, priestly ordination… But the form used by the Holy Father, the Year for Priests, has its meaning, points to priests, i.e. those who have received Holy Orders and carry this gift of God in their hearts. This is an extraordinary charism, an indelible mark. The phrase ‘Year for Priests’ has a personal and personalistic character; it concerns people gifted with priesthood. There are many things to do during this time, which requires many reflections, creativity. Certainly, there will be interesting initiatives from priests, laity, the Apostolic See or the Polish Bishops’ Conference. Since this year we should remember especially the role and mission of priests, deeply reflecting on this theme. Although, as we can see, these journalists who are unfriendly towards the Church use this pastoral action, writing bad things about priests, enlarging their faults, stressing their bad behaviours, etc. But I would like to emphasise that the Year for Priests is directed especially to Catholics who appreciate priests and the gift of priesthood, which the servants of the altar carry. Therefore, we must look for new initiatives that could bring more understanding of the gift of priesthood and releasing bigger involvement in collaboration between the faithful and priests. We seem to think that during this period every priest could remind himself and his faithful of the date of his ordination, renew his first mass – perhaps even the Apostolic See would allow some special service for this occasion. When we celebrated our first masses we could give special blessings. Maybe in the Year for Priests we could choose one day to repeat our first mass and again give this special blessing to the faithful, which could be combined with some indulgence. Priests could give special pictures containing thoughts which would accompany them in their priestly lives like it was during their first masses. It could be the same thought as it was for the first mass or it could be a new thought setting a new stage of priestly life. I hope that bishops will eagerly allow such a service. Because of the Feast Day of St John Vianney on 4 August we will place the image of the Holy Parish Priest on the cover of ‘Niedziela’, to be issued on 2 August, and we will propose priests pictures of that saint, too. Every priest can write his name, the date of his ordination on the other side of the picture and give such pictures to his faithful, friends and acquaintances. I think this idea would result in more prayers, which we, priests, need so much. It would make us closer to our faithful and incline us to reflect on priesthood. At first, we will give every parish priest as many pictures as the copies of ‘Niedziela’ distributed in his parish. Our distributors will deliver the pictures. If a priest wants to have more pictures, e.g. for the occasion of renewing his first mass in his parish, he can order them at any printer’s, showing our picture as the pattern. The presence of the picture concerning the Year for Priests, the picture of the repeated first mass, will mark an important time of reflection on priesthood in the life of every priest. By our proposal we would like to show our gratitude for distributing ‘Niedziela’ among the faithful and at the same time in the Year for Priests we would like to emphasise that a priest is ‘alter Christus’ and we all should value and respect this great gift of Jesus Christ.