Bishop Thomas J. Riley
"And we are gathered here tonight to pray for priests, to pray for those whom Christ, the Son of God, made to share in the glory and the power of His Own Eternal Priesthood. We are here to Pray For Priests, priests who are human beings, priests who suffer from human imperfections, priests who experience the temptations of the world. We are here to pray for all priests...to pray especially for those who are engaged in the pastoral work of saving souls...who bring the redeeming grace of Christ from Heaven to earth in every Mass that is celebrated and every confession that is heard....
We must preach the Gospel of Repentance....We must warn our own people that they disregard the teachings of their Church at the peril of their own Immortal Souls...."
Bishop Thomas J. Riley
My Dear Brother Priests, Beloved Religious, and all you lovers of Our Blessed Lady gathered here tonight in honor of Her Feast:
I am very certain that every one of us here experiences a great thrill at being a part of this wonderful, tremendous crowd. I am sure likewise that beneath the feeling of thrill and satisfaction that comes over us tonight, there is a much deeper affection that goes straight to the heart of our Catholic Faith.
We are here tonight because we are Christians, because we are Catholics, because the Faith that we are proud to possess and to profess brings us together and because in the unity of that Faith, we acknowledge the truth of everything that God Almighty has revealed through his Son, Jesus Christ.
We acknowledge, too, and we bend our knees in humble subjection to the divinely constituted authority, which proclaims that truth to us, interprets it for us, and applies it to the details of our life. We are, indeed, tonight, a unified congregation, and among the truths that keep us together, that constitute the core of our unity in this gathering, is the truth that our Holy Father, The Pope, called to our minds on the occasion of the last Council. Speaking independently of the Council, yet always in collegiate union with its members, Our Holy Father proclaimed that Mary, the Mother of God is likewise the Mother of the Church... Mary whom God selected to be the Mother of His Divine Son... Mary, who was with Her Son for every moment of His earthly life... Mary who in her Immaculate Conception was preserved free from the taint of Original sin... Mary, who by an extraordinary Grace of God was preserved from even the slightest Venial sin during her lifetime...Mary who was standing at the side of Christ as He was breathing His last upon the Cross…Mary who today is Queen of the Angels and the Saints... Mary the Mother of God is the Mother of the Church and because we are members of the Church through Christ, Our Lord, Mary is our Mother also.
And, how proud we should be of our Mother... how confident we should be of Her Motherly intercession for us and how thrilled we should be as we gather here tonight to reflect that everyone of us here, every single one of this congregation, old and young, rich and poor, whatever his status in life, everyone of us has this in common, that we acknowledge Mary, the Mother of the Church to be our Mother also and that because She is our Mother, we are confident of Her Motherly intercession.
And we are gathered here tonight to pray for priests, to pray for those whom Christ, the Son of God, made to share in the glory and the power of His Own Eternal Priesthood. We are here to Pray For Priests, priests who are human beings, priests who suffer from human imperfections, priests who experience the temptations of the world. We are here to pray for all priests...to pray especially for those who are engaged in the pastoral work of saving souls...who bring the redeeming grace of Christ from Heaven to earth in every Mass that is celebrated and every confession that is heard.
And, if there would be a saddening feature in our presence here tonight, it would be that the dreadful forces of evil that surround us are directed not only at the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, Our Lord, but especially at those whom Christ has annointed to His Own Priesthood. If we are sad tonight, then perhaps we might find great comfort in contemplating on the experience that the prophet Amos has set before us in the reading of his prophecy that constitutes part of the Mass today. Amos was chosen by God for a special mission in His Name. As a shepherd boy in Jerusalem, he had been selected by God to go to the King Ezechias at a time when He perceived that the people of God were about to be restored to their rightful heritage. He was sent to tell them, in God's Name, that because they had been unfaithful to their Covenant with God a great disaster lay ahead of them. Because he did what God told him to do, he was driven out of the country and told never to return. But he had the great satisfaction of knowing that he told them what God told him to tell them.
In our country priests have a similar commission from Almighty God...We must preach the Gospel of Repentance. We must warn the people of God of the frightful consequences of disregarding His Holy Law. We must warn those who govern the destinies of our nation that we have become a Godless society. We must warn our own people that they disregard the teachings of their Church at the peril of their own Immortal Souls. We must accept this warning ourselves. We must not fall into the attitude of self-complacency which would find satisfaction in the mere fact of our manifestation, of external devotion as it is evident here tonight. Our devotion must be as sweet incense...rising from our hearts. Our devotion must be the reflection of the purity of our personal life and the integrity of our relationships with one another...the reflection of our oneness with Christ.
If this is the prayer that goes from this magnificent church
tonight to the throne of God in Heaven, then we may be sure that Mary, the Mother
of God...the Mother of the Church...will take our prayers to Herself. Mary will
make them her own and will return once more to the earth from which they came,
the beautiful flowers placed before the altar of sacrifice. She will then reward
apostolic zeal that moves us tonight with her powerful intercession. Dearly
beloved, we must be truly Mary's children as we gather here tonight. Let us
pray for the church...let us pray for our country...let us pray tonight for
our priests...and let us pray tonight for all who suffer and are heavily burdened...let
us pray that God may take us all to Himself through Mary, the Mother of the
Church, the Mother of Christ. As we share tonight in the offering of this Holy
Sacrifice, let us be thankful for all of the effort that has made this evening
possible. Let us pray that through our continuing cooperation we may grow in
our faith and that our faith may save the world.
We find God only when we have justified our souls. Let us pray that the consequence of this wonderful event that is taking place in this Church dedicated to Mary Immaculate may be for each one of us a strengthening of our Apostolic Vocation of brethren of the Lord, whose Mother was Mary, the Mother of the Church.