By Lynne Keating
“‘Take, eat; this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.'” (Matthew 26: 26-28)
Pope Saint John Paul II said that a priest is a man for others. A more formal, but equally uncomplicated definition of priest is one who offers sacrifice for his people. I find these definitions helpful as I ponder the “priestly” identity bestowed upon all Christians at Baptism. They become weighty, however, when I realize that Christ calls me to self-offering love—as He, Himself, loves.
Many years ago, I felt that the Lord was asking me to do something quite specific. As usual, I argued with Him.
“But Lord,” I prayed, “You know how much I want to enter religious life. Why not call me to something else so that it will be a greater sacrifice for me?” In my heart, I heard a gentle reply, “When I ask you for a sacrifice, it does not feel like one.”
How that understanding changed my life! It forever altered the way I view challenges, trials and even the sufferings which God places before me! In light of it, fear subsides, and I remind myself that these things do not crush, overwhelm or destroy me. In fact, making the conscious decision to turn suffering into sacrifice changes my position from that of victim, to that of victor. Big difference! Oh, it’s never pleasant, not what I would choose for myself, but I know now that He asks this of me and that He is with me in the mix. Very close to my eyes. If suffering produces nothing more than this, a tangible experience of God’s presence, it is worth it to me now.
I used to cringe at the words of the saints who said, “All suffering is sweet to me.” Suffering? Sweet? What planet am I on? It took me years to understand the joy which comes from giving my fiat—my be it done—as Mary did when she accepted God’s will for her life. It is this fiat, I have discovered, that really does make suffering somewhat sweet because, in it, I hear His gentle voice, “Do this is memory of me.”
The readings from today’s Mass speak of the call to priesthood, of joy and of healing. Paraphrasing a bit from Pope Saint John Paul’s description of priesthood, we can perhaps see ourselves more clearly. As women in the New Evangelization, we have a unique opportunity to answer this call as witnesses to Christ’s love, walking together, side by side with those for whom we pray—often on a path which is not of our choosing. It is this that makes visible to the world the great mercy of God. It is this which becomes our priestly identity. It is who we are.
Lord Jesus, today I give to You my fiat. Take my intellect; redeem it with Your wisdom. Take my understanding; purify it with Your vision. Take my entire will; it is yours. Grant me Your perfect love. Take away my fear, that I may sing out today’s Psalm with all my heart, “The Lord has done great things for us and we are filled with joy!” Amen.
About the Author:
Lynne Keating lives in historic Newark, Delaware, where she enjoys writing and blogging about her love for the Catholic faith on her website fellowshipofthelamb.com. She tells us: Life with the Lord is always an adventure! I believe that we live in one of the most exciting times in salvation history and that God is revealing more and more of His love through the actions of His people. With this in mind, I write and blog on the universal call to redemptive suffering, to which I feel people my age (baby boomers) are specifically called and qualified. You’ll catch that drift in almost everything I write. I see such a beautiful pattern developing today, especially apparent against the backdrop of upheaval and uncertainty. Story after story emerges describing remarkable acts of selfless love, courageous forgiveness and generosity of spirit—a willingness to lay down one’s life for another. I am glad to be in the mix—for the adventure, I have discovered, has only just begun. God bless!