Today sees the end of the ‘Year for Priests’; and at the Oratory this morning a number of children from the Oratory Primary School made their first Holy Communion with a large congregation of families and friends . . . and, quite accidentally, me.
Quite a number of thoughts crossed my mind both before and during the Mass; but one in particular occurred to me during F. John’s sermon . . . that in one way it was a very appropriate day for these children to come to the altar for the first time to receive Our Blessed Lord in Holy Communion.
F. John spoke to the children about the possibility – indeed the desirability – of their now receiving Holy Communion often, and well; and he pointed out that in most churches there is a daily Mass, so that they can even make a daily Communion . . . but, of course, they can only do this because the priest is there to make this possible.
As the S. Curé d’Ars said, ‘Who has the key ? Who lays in the provisions ? Who makes ready the feast, and who serves the table ?’ ‘The priest.’
We have for a year prayed for our priests; but we have not prayed for them for themselves alone, but through them for the people of God whom they are there to sanctify, and to serve. Those children this morning brought their innocence to meet the Innocent One in the Most Holy Sacrament : but it was F. John who brought It to the altar to meet them.
Let us tonight, as the Year for Priests draws to its close, thank God for those children at the Oratory who made their first Holy Communion today (and others whom, I know, are doing so in many other churches this weekend), and pray that they will always remain faithful members of His Holy Church : but let us also thank God for our priests, and remember that although the Year for Priests may be over, the need for us to pray for our priests is never over, because our need for them is never over either.