Suggestions for Liturgy Planning
A Sunday in Ordinary Time
Parishioners and lay leaders may choose to celebrate Mass as a way to observe this special day. The parish liturgy committee may consider mentioning “Priesthood Sunday” in the introduction to the liturgy of the day. For example:
To be servants of God, we are called to be humble as Jesus himself was humble. On this, the Thirtieth Sunday of Ordinary Time, the Church in the United States observes “Priesthood Sunday.” Through the lens of the paschal mystery – that is, Christ’s own life, death, resurrection and subsequent Spirit-gift who unites us to God’s very self – all of the baptized are called to mission. Faithful servants, whether lay or ordained, recognize that life is a journey. All of us are human, which is why we seek God’s grace to mold our hearts into the image of Divine Love. We do not do this alone. We belong to a community called Church. This ordered community is served by parish priests who lead us in service and spirituality. Today in particular, we pray that the Holy Spirit will continue to inspire the mission of Christ and to strengthen the humble service of our priests.
The scripture readings appointed for today suggest that true service is done with a humble and with true sincerity. As we know, The Word of God inspires humble servants to further God’s mission on earth.
The readings for the Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time are quite rich interpreted through the lens of honesty and humility. Luke’s Gospel warns against being seduced by the glory of those things that prevent authentic discipleship: titles, places of honor, not helping people in their need, and so forth. Christ challenges us all in our understanding of prayer and discipleship – that is, what it means to be a Catholic Christian – when he states: “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Lk. 18:14).
Thus discipleship is about humility or being humble. Humble or humility comes from the Latin word for dirt or dust. Take the image of a worm. A worm is close to the ground, and thus is covered in dirt and breathes dust. To be humble is to recognize that life is messy, especially the spiritual life. As we know, life is a journey of being open to God’s working in and through us by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit offers us the possibility to grow in the image and likeness of Christ. The first reading reflects the Gospel call to authenticity and God’s fundamental option for the poor. Pope Francis continues to remind us of the virtue of humility and service to the poor. As the psalmist pleads, “The Lord hears the cry of the poor.” We are called to serve God and one another. God is working through God’s poor so that God’s will can continue to be manifest in our lives. Or, as the author of the Book of Sirach reminds us, “The man who with his whole heart serves God will be accepted.” Our lives should reflect this whole hearted service to the most vulnerable.
Within the Church we have ordained priests who help us discern Christ’s call to us in our lives. Many of our priests give much of themselves in order to help all of us stay true to paths of deep faith and love in God and neighbor. Without many of them, many of us would become lost and we would not always practice what we believe. Many of these fine priests truly live what the Gospel calls all of us to live, to be humble disciples serving those in need – whether those needs are spiritual or economical. Through their lives and deep faith they witness to the God’s overflowing love and generosity.
Whether we are ordained or lay, for our hearts to grow in the love of God, we must humble ourselves in order to see the way God intends. The journey of faith is a road of accepting God’s gracious goodness into our hearts in order that we may share the faith, hope and love of God to one another. Of course, we do that in Christ’s command to be humble and to serve others.
[It is recommended to preach on either the scriptural readings and/or the liturgical texts for this particular Sunday and perhaps weave that will the suggested reflection below.]
While all of us are called to live our baptismal covenant, some men are called to ordained ministry. These men serve the needs of the Church – the Body of Christ. In many of our communities, dedicated priests offer their time and talent, despite shrinking numbers and larger parish communities, by leading people not to themselves, but to the God of Jesus Christ. As Jeremiah phrased it, they “console [the faithful] and guide them.” The source of their gift(s) for ordained ministry is given from God for the good of the whole community. Priests ask God, “What do you want me to do for you?” What does the God of Jesus Christ want us to do? There is a story told that Blessed Pope John XXIII would always ask in prayer, “Holy Spirit, what would you have me do?” Ministry, as these priests and Blessed John remind us, is always to serve God’s mission in the world, and the church is the light, the beacon of that mission. Not just the ordained pray for guidance, but, like Blessed John, we too long to follow the ways of the Spirit that our faith may not only be strengthened, but that we will serve God’s mission faithfully. Ultimately, ordained priests enable and empower all of the baptized, despite human weaknesses, to deepen faith, grow in hope, and share the gift of Christ’s love with all human persons so that God’s glory will be experienced repeatedly.
The intercessions follow the Creed. After the intercessions, the blessing prayer is proclaimed by the liturgical assembly as a whole or by the chair of the pastoral council
Having heard proclaimed the saving works of God among us, let us now bring before the God of joy and promise our needs.
Trusting in our ever-living God, let us present our prayers of petition.
For God’s holy Church:
May our pope, bishops and priests continue to minister in humble justice and faithful service. Let us pray to the Lord.
For nations and their governments:
May they hear the call to work toward peace, justice and equity between one another and for the people they serve. Let us pray to the Lord.
For all who have suffered abuse:
May those who have suffered abuse find strength, hope and peace. Let us pray to the Lord.
For an increase in religious vocations:
For men and women to respond to the Christ’s call to serve the church in the priesthood, diaconate or religious life. Let us pray to the Lord.
For all who suffer from sickness, hunger or loneliness:
May they find in our communities faithful support and generous kindness. Let us pray to the Lord.
For those struggling with doubt, anxiety or fear:
May the peace of Christ embrace them and lead them to his comforting light.
Let us pray to the Lord.
For all of us gathered in this holy place:
May God continue to respond to Christ’s call to help to poor and the afflicted. Let us pray to the Lord.
Good and gracious God, hear the prayer of your people.
In your merciful love, inspire our priests to faith-filled service.
Answer the prayers of all who believe in you.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.*
A member of the parish council or other parish leadership organization, or a deacon may invite the members of the assembly to join in a blessing over the parish priest(s). This blessing may take place after the prayer after communion.
The ministries of the Church are many and varied, but God shows God’s goodness by sending priests to care for the people of God. Today we ask God to bless Father ________, who faithfully builds up the body of Christ.
If the blessing prayer is used the above prayer* is omitted and the following blessing is used. The assembly may be invited to extend both hands over the priest.
In your loving kindness, O good and gracious God, you sent your Son to be our shepherd and guide. Father ________ continues Christ’s ministry of working in the vineyard by sustaining and guiding your holy people. Bless Father ________. Let your Spirit uphold him always in his service to the people of this parish. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
The above blessing is adapted from “Blessing of Those Who Exercise Pastoral Service” from the Book of Blessing (Washington, D.C.: ICEL, 1987), p. 689.
You are the giver of every good gift,
O God of abundant goodness and mercy.
Hear the prayer of your people,
and bring us into closer union with your Son,
Jesus Christ our Promise of Hope,
in whose name we offer this prayer.
He is Lord forever and ever. Amen.
This composition is an arrangement of phrases from ancient ordination liturgies (cf. Bradshaw, Ordination Rites of the Ancient Churches of the East and West) that emphasize the call to holiness (integrity, purity). Ordinations always began with a Rite of Election. The proclamation which begins this prayer was at the end of that rite and invited the people to affirm the calling by prayer that the person would be strengthened in holiness to conform to their calling, recognizing that both calling and holiness come from God.
Divine Grace, which always heals that which is infirm and supplies that which is lacking has called our beloved brothers to sacred ministry. Let us pray that they be confirmed and strengthened with the grace of the Holy Spirit.
Fill them with grace and counsel, that they may love you with all their hearts, all their minds, and all their strength. Grant them irreproachable conduct, steadfast faith, and good works so that they may help and guide your people with unselfish motivation.
Grant them wisdom, let their minds be sober and watchful, so that they may be filled with works of healing and words of instruction. May they teach your people in meekness and serve you in holiness with a undivided mind and a willing soul.
May they be the light of your only begotten Son that the word of your gospel may be spread and your name may be glorified in every creature.
May they serve at your holy altar with pure hearts and good consciences. Grant that they may prosper in all your commandments and the keeping of your laws, so that they may be able to minister joyfully on the day of your coming.
Pray! Invite! Encourage! Affirm! Vocations
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