Sunday, May 29, 2016

Fr. Agustin Martinez
First Mass of Thanksgiving as a Priest of Jesus Christ
29 May 2016
St. Agnes  Church, Roeland Park, Kansas

Conform your life to the mystery of the Lord's cross.

Let's get this party started!

Conform your life to the mystery of the Lord's cross.

Dear Fr. Agustin, not to take anything away from the glorious and exceedingly beautiful day yesterday that was your ordination to the priesthood of Jesus Christ, a joyful day for you, for your family, for the entire Church.  A culmination of so many things, all from God!  Not to take away either from the perfect day that is your first Mass of thanksgiving today.

Still, those words pronounced to you by His Excellency Archbishop Naumann colored yesterday's celebration, and still haunt us in this happy occasion.

Conform your life to the mystery of the Lord's cross.

Yesterday, Fr. Agustin, the Archbishop threw down on you, like a good father should.  The Archbishop issued a challenge, most of all because he loves you and believes in you.  He threw the great Cure of Ars, St. John Vianney right in your face because he is the shepherd of God's people, and he needs you to be a holy priest.

It is my great intention and privilege today to 'pile on' Fr. Agustin.  I love you and so I tease you.  But more than that, I believe in you.  The church that I love needs your heart.  So I beg for it today at your first Mass - for God's people - I beg for your heart.  More than that, you know that Jesus begs for your heart.  He has always thirsted for yours.  Today as you begin service as one of his beloved priests, he begs for your heart even more.

The Archbishop said rightly that even though you have so many more gifts, Fr. Agustin, than the great patron saint of priests St. John Vianney, that his prayer is that you become half the priest he is.  Ouch!  That had to sting, Fr. Agustin!  It has been joked among priests that our dear pope Francis loves and forgives everyone except his priests!  He is hard on us.  Yet he too knows that his mission of unity in the Church cannot be accomplished without holy, humble, zealous priests.  Jesus himself trusted his ministry to the apostles.  Every good pope and bishop entrusts his ministry to his priests.  He has to, in imitation of the Lord Jesus Himself, who wanted things this way.  Pope Francis disciplines us priests because he loves us and he needs us.  Whenever we do not have the heart of Jesus, Pope Francis loves us enough to tell us so.

This is what the Archbishop told you Fr. Agustin.  You will have a hard time giving your heart.  By the grace of God you have received the gift of the priesthood.  By only giving a small piece of yourself, in saying the holy words of the sacraments, you will effect new miracles and new realities.  Yet the hard part - dare I say the impossible part - will be for you to give your heart - when you say these sacred words.  The Archbishop predicted rightly that it is one thing to get A's and to show great promise and to look the part, and to be capable of the myriad duties of the priesthood.  You are very capable!  It is quite a different thing to be a priest in name and a priest in heart, for the priesthood is exactly what our patron the Cure says it is - the priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus.

Conform your life to the mystery of the Lord's Cross.  Have fun with that Fr. Agustin!

Don't get me wrong, the priesthood will be a happy life for you because the Lord desires it for you.  In many ways, the Lord spoils his priests - putting them at the intersection of so many personal, spiritual and material riches.  Even though if you work as hard as Fr. Jerry your new pastor plans on you working, you will make only $.10 an hour, nobody here is worried about you starving Fr. Agustin! Whatever you give to the Lord will come back to you a hundred fold.

Yet in the end the priesthood must be a way not of fulfilling your dream or destiny or even your myriad desires but must be a death to self.  The priesthood is a uniquely mysterious vocation, and a deeply personal gift of Jesus to those He chooses and loves, to give your entire life away.  Never will the reality of your priestly identity be more intense than when you utter the words of consecration - today for the first time as principal celebrant - the words of sacrificial and total love - the words of Jesus Himself - over the sacred species of bread and wine.  Corpus Christ, the solemnity of your first Mass of Thanksgiving, is the Sunday of the year when we intentionally intensify our faith and devotion to the Holy Eucharist.  The opportunity before you, Fr. Agustin, is that each time you will be privileged to say Mass, to say not only the words, but to also give your heart - not just a piece of your heart, but all of it!

It sounds like great hyperbole when the Cure says that if a priest realized what He was doing at Mass, he would die.  But it's not.  It's precisely true.  The problem is that most priests will always remain afraid to pass over and to give their whole heart.  The Archbishop knows it.  I know it.  Fr. Agustin - even now you can feel the fears and doubts in your heart - you know it too.

If a priest realizes what He does, He will die.

The sacraments of the Church flow from the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  Your office of priesthood, Fr. Agustin, is but the place where Jesus places his own sacred heart.  Never make your priesthood anything else, or anything less.

I entrust you, without hesitation, Fr. Agustin, to our beautiful Lady of Guadalupe.  Jesus gave his Mother to the Church, and more especially to be the Mother of Priests.  Entrust yourself completely to her.  Those to whom much is given much is expected.  Our Blessed Mother, who receive the gift of the Immaculate Conception, received the greatest responsibility, to be the Mother of the Church.  She filled this role Fr. Agustin, in your native land like nowhere else, as she became at Guadalupe the apostle and evangelist of the Americas.  Her thirst for souls led to the conversion of your native land.  Allow her thirst for your soul to make possible the biggest conversion that lies ahead of you, the gift of your entire heart to the priesthood.  Mary makes Jesus present like no one else . . ask her to give you the courage to replace the fears and doubts still present in your heart with Her Son's sacred and priestly heart.

This you must do, Fr. Agustin, if you dare to be not just a good priest, not just a successful priest, but a holy priest.  This last step is the great adventure of your life.  This last step very few priests ever make.  When you say Mass the rest of your life, always try to give your whole heart.

Conform you life to the mystery of the Lord's cross.  Amen.