Friday, July 24, 2009

My 1st Article for The B.C. Catholic: Priestly Tasks (司 祭 職)

Beginning with this issue of The B.C. Catholic newspaper, I am writing for a new column, Pax Sinica (Chinese Peace 華之安).

Here is the Editorial section of this issue where the General Editor of the B.C. Catholic, Paul Schratz, explaining the reason of the initiative.

Here is my article in both Chinese & English at The B.C. Catholic website.

Below is my first article for Pax Sinica in honor of the 150th Anniversary of the death of St. John Vianney.

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司 祭 職

生命中,不少事情都和數目「三」扯上關係。首推當然是天主的「三位一體」;想不到,聖若翰.維雅納John Vianney的善牧工具,亦離不開與「三」有關——獻祭台、講道台和告解室。

甫進入天主教聖堂,我們便會注意到三件擺設,與神父的司祭職有莫大關連:獻祭台、講道台和告解室。神父秉承基督的司祭、先知和君王職,聖化、教誨和領導眾人的靈魂。聖若翰.維雅納則是這方面傑出的牧者。

獻祭台:聖若翰.維雅納神父任亞爾斯Ars本堂司鐸時,花了至少八年時間,勸勉教友守瞻禮主日及參與彌撒。主日彌撒聖祭是我們基督徒生活的中心,天主實在也應該佔我們心中的首席位;所以,我們應該藉參與每主日彌撒,與天主相遇,作為不可或缺的要事。很多人曾體驗在主日參與彌撒,祈求天主降福他們的工作,果然感到事半功倍。聖若翰.維雅納神父在這方面更具心得,皆因他常奉天主為先。

講道台:每天早上十一時,聖若翰.維雅納會在一個細小木做的講道台,教授要理。聖人並非雄辯舌滑之人,但他的言詞誠懇,發自肺腑,因此能感動眾人,激勵心靈,致使不少人被感化,更有意效法他晉鐸或修道者。聖若翰.維雅納並不止於口訓,亦身體厲行。他渡極樸素的生活,少餐少眠,為他的堂區教友齋戒祈禱。他的家訪,令教友們深感他們牧者的關愛。毋怪亞爾斯的人都公認:「我們的本堂神父是位聖者,我們要聽從他。」

告解室:聖若翰.維雅納長時間在告解室聽告解,即使在寒冬,他仍會每天用上十一至十二小時聽告解,炎夏更用上十六小時!聽告解時,聖人只消言詞一二,他的聖德足以轉化人心。隨着牧民經驗的增長,聖若翰.維雅納更趨親切溫婉。告解室內,聖若翰.維雅納神父撫慰痛苦者、善導迷茫者。有說道:「沒有一個無知的人,不被若翰.維雅納神父所啓發;沒有一個正直的靈魂,不被若翰.維雅納神父所鼓舞,以臻聖境。」

將到的八月四日,正是紀念聖若翰.維雅納神父一百五十週年的冥辰,是本年「司鐸年」的一個特別日子。

請為我們眾司鐸祈禱,讓我們效法聖若翰.維雅納和藉他的代禱,使我們以更大的愛和聖德,克盡鐸職。

Priestly tasks....

In life, a lot of things come in threes. The Holy Trinity springs to mind first, but less well known is the way St. John Vianney tended his flock with the altar, the pulpit, and the confessional.

The Year for Priests is under way. Aug. 4 will be the 150th anniversary of the death of St. John Vianney. This will be a very special day in the Year for Priests.

When we enter a Catholic church, three things remind us of the works of a priest: the altar, the pulpit, and the confessional. Priests continue these priestly, prophetic, and kingly functions of Christ: to make holy, to teach, and to guide souls. St. John Vianney was an outstanding pastor of souls in this regard.

Altar
After St. John Vianney became the parish priest in Ars (or the cure of Ars), he spent at least eight years working for the proper observance of Sunday. Sunday Mass ought to be at the centre of our Christian life, he thought, and God should occupy the first place in our hearts. We express this by placing our weekly encounter with Him, Sunday Mass, at the top of our priorities.

Many people in the saint’s small French town experienced that; if they made time for God on Sunday, God would bless their works. Even though they did less, they could accomplish more. St. John Vianney was able to accomplish so much because he put God first.

Pulpit
Every day at 11 a.m. St. John Vianney would deliver a catechism lesson at the “catechism stall” (a small wooden pulpit). The saint had little human eloquence, but he preached from the heart, and his talks touched many souls. Some were converted; some were inspired to the priesthood or the religious life.

St. John Vianney preached not just by words, but also by deeds. He led a very austere life, with little food and sleep. He fasted and prayed for his people. He personally visited his parishioners, who sensed that they were loved by their pastor. The people of Ars would say, “Our parish priest is a saint, and we must obey him.”

Confessional
One of the most remarkable things in the life of St. John Vianney was his long hours in the confessional. During winter he would spend 11 to 12 hours a day there, and in summertime, up to 16 hours.

In the confessional the saint would often guide souls with just a few words or a sentence, but his words had the authority of holiness to change people’s hearts.

As St. John Vianney grew in pastoral experience he became more tender and less severe. In the confessional, St. Vianney also consoled the afflicted and counselled the doubtful. It was said the saint “never encountered an ignorant person whom he did not enlighten, or a just whom he did not encourage and urge on towards perfection.”

Please pray for us priests, that through the examples and prayers of St. John Vianney we may fulfil our priestly duties with greater love and holiness.

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St. John Vianney, pray for us !