Ardent yet gentle

By Father James Wilcox

North Texas Catholic

8/21/2017


The Catholic Church, guided by the Holy Spirit, offers priests the option for celebrating votive Masses on days where another specific Mass (i.e., the feast of an Apostle) is designated. 

A couple that I often take advantage of celebrating, as you might imagine, are the Mass for Vocations to Holy Orders and the Mass for Religious Vocations. I have a particular love for the Collect (opening prayer) for the Vocation to Holy Orders Mass, because we pray for “ardent yet gentle heralds of the Gospel.”  

Ardent yet gentle. We ask prayers for men who are passionate, fervent, vigorous, courageous, and enthusiastic proclaimers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Men who are on fire for spreading the “good news of great joy” (Luke 2:10) to all people.  

At the same time, we pray for gentle heralds. With the same intensity, priests are men who share the Gospel message with pastoral sensitivity to meet the Christian faithful where they are on the journey with Jesus Christ. Gentle, tender, caring, loving heralds. Shepherds who follow the instructions of our Lord to St. Peter: “Feed my lambs … Tend my sheep … Feed my sheep” (John 21:15-17).

Praying in this specific manner allows us to “ask the Master of the Harvest” (Luke 10:2) to make his voice heard as He calls young men to the priesthood. We are praying for an outpouring of love, for the call to priesthood is an act of God’s grace working in the lives of all people.  

This is precisely a major point of Bishop Michael Olson’s homily at the ordination Mass of Father Stephen Hauck and Father John Martin last May. Bishop stated, “Your priestly vocation is an act of Christ’s generous love for you and for His people, the Church.” The call is for the particular man, but the act of the call is for all people. Therefore, a man says “yes” to God’s call for himself and for the souls to whom he will be sent as an ardent yet gentle herald. 

When one prays for vocations to the priesthood, the prayer is for the entire Christian faithful. It is a prayer of generosity recognized in three parts: the generosity of God to call a man to priesthood; the generosity of the man to “lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13); and the generosity of the people to pray for the care of each other through the priesthood of Jesus Christ.  

Hearing and answering the call are the first steps toward priesthood. The truest test comes in perseverance in formation and in commitment to ministry. In the same homily, Bishop Olson reminded us perseverance in our vocation and our discernment requires simplicity of heart so that we can say, “‘yes’ when we mean ‘yes,’ and say ‘no’ when we mean ‘no,’ for as Christ teaches us, “anything more is from the evil one” (Matthew 5:37).

The ardent herald is firm in his proclamation. His “yes” for the Gospel is certain. This is only possible for a man who has Christ as the center of his life. From this supernatural relationship, the man lives his commitment to faithful care of souls with a generous heart.  

May the Lord send us ardent yet gentle heralds to proclaim his Word.

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Ordained to the priesthood in 2013, Father James Wilcox serves as the campus chaplain for Texas Christian University and the Director of Vocations for the diocese. 

 

The Catholic Church, guided by the Holy Spirit, offers priests the option for celebrating votive Masses on days where another specific Mass (i.e., the feast of an Apostle) is designated. 

Published (until 8/21/2028)
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