Sunday, 18 June 2006

Happy Father's Day

Today is Father's Day in the UK. Unlike Mothering Sunday, which is a Church Feast Day, Father's Day is a piece of shameless commercialism aimed at increasing sales of beer, aftershave, chocolate (well, I suppose men like chocolate too... there's certainly lots of it on sale in Supermarkets with "Don't Forget Father's Day" plastered all over the shelves) and greetings cards.

I don't really have a problem with this sort of thing... though I draw the line at celebrating "Grandparents' Day". But it did occur to me that it would be a great day to say a "thank you" to our priests - our spiritual fathers.

I don't think we say "thank you" to them often enough, and we also take them for granted. This was brought home to me when I helped to start up a demonstration at the Chrism Mass at St. George's Cathedral, Southwark. It was quite a simple idea - a group of women from the diocese who wanted to show their loyalty to the Magisterium and their appreciation for everything that our priests do for the Church. As we handed out little prayer cards, one priest was almost in tears as he said that no-one had ever thanked him for being a priest before.

It's important. I have been privileged to meet many, many good and holy priests since my return to the Church. These dedicated, prayerful and hard-working men give up their lives for God and the Church - that's us. Without their self-sacrifice, there would be no Sacraments, no Church.

The prayer cards we gave out at last year's Chrism Mass had a quote from Pope John Paul II:

"The priest is someone who, despite the passing of years, continues to radiate youthfulness, spreading it almost contagiously among those he meets along the way. His secret lies in his passion for Christ...

"If he is able to offer himself as a gift, placing himself at the service
of anyone in need, his life takes on its true meaning."
(Maundy Thursday, March 2005)
So take the opportunity to wish your Parish Priest (and/or Curate) a Happy Father's Day.

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