Gospel Reflection by Father Doug Harris - 3rd May, 2020


Today is World Day of Prayer for vocations. Today the entire Church makes an extra effort to pray for vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life.

The very last words of Jesus to His Apostles before He ascended into heaven: “Go, therefore and make disciples of all the nations.”

The original Apostles left everything and therefore were available to go anywhere in the world to proclaim the Gospel. St Thomas, for example, may have gone to India. St Bartholomew to the Middle East. All the Apostles died for the faith, except St John. St Peter, crucified upside down. St Bartholomew, skinned while alive.

There are countries today that need missionaries, someone to tell them about

Jesus – China, the Middle East, for example. Pray about going there – you and your family. Jesus said (Mt 9:38): “Pray, therefore, the Lord of the harvest send out labourers into His harvest.” Also, here – in this parish it takes our Evangelisation Team and Legion of Mary, 3 years to knock on every door – and that is just the residential area. What about all the people who work in our industrial or business area?

Especially needed are men and women who choose to consecrate themselves to the Lord with the vows of celibacy, poverty and obedience.

My personal call to the priesthood came in 1986, I was 27. Before then I had no desire to be a priest. I was going to Mass every day and sometimes people would ask me if I had ever thought of becoming a priest. I had a standard reply, “No, I know God wants me to get married,” and sometimes I would add, “and have ten children.”

Then in November 1986 when St Pope John Paul II came to Australia, he was celebrating Mass and I was in the crowd and during the Mass I had a strong desire to be a priest. This desire was so strong that I prayed “Lord, please don’t take this desire away from me!”, and He never has. Today I can’t thank Him enough for my priesthood.

EXTRA: I knew a priest who died at age 91. On his death bed he was asked what the greatest joy or moment in all his 91 years life was. Without hesitation, he said that his greatest joy in all his life occurred every day. That was the Mass. I agree the greatest moment or joy in my life occurs every day – the Holy Mass. (What a joy it is to be at Mass now).

St John Vianney, a French priest who died in 1859 said we can never fully understand or appreciate the dignity of the priest. “If we were to understand the dignity of the priest, we would die – not of fear but of love.”

Why is it that some men and women choose priesthood or consecrated life and not choose marriage?” Generally, it is because our love for Jesus is so strong that we want others to have the same love for Jesus that we have. So much so that we are prepared to give our whole life for that cause – even sacrifice our natural desires for marriage and ‘ten’ children.

In this parish, we have one vocation, Amy McCabe. She joined the “Missionaries of God’s Love Sisters” about 2 years ago. (At the age of 7 she had her own Holy Hour; 3pm to 4pm every Wednesday).

What the world needs today is not just men and women who are called to consecrate themselves to the priesthood or consecrated life. What the world needs are saints and mystics. God is raising up more saints and mystics in our time than in any other time in history. (Where sin abounds, Grace abounds even more).

Saints like St Padre/Father Pio who died recently in 1968. He had the stigmata – the wounds of Christ – holes on his hands, feet and side. He was visited everyday by Our Lord, Our Blessed Mother, some of the saints and his Guardian Angel. He was known to bilocate; be in two places at one time. Levitation – once above the clouds.

St Padre Pio is an example of what God will do to a holy person.

Today in modern times we have numerous people who have shown holiness like St Padre Pio. Others with the stigmata such as Fr Gino Buressi who is alive today.

There is at least one person in Australia who has the stigmata. Others who have had regular visits by Our Lord and Our Blessed Mother include St Faustina Kowalska who died in 1938 and Blessed Dina Belanger who died in 1929. Others who have lived only on Holy Communion such as Luisa Picaretta who died in 1947 and who lived only on Holy Communion for 64 years and Marte Robin who died in 1981 and who lived on Holy Communion for 50 years.

One of my favourite saints is Bl Dina Belanger, a French-Canadian nun. She died in 1929. She vowed “total perfection.” She wrote: “My ideal: the substitution of Jesus in my stead. We are no longer two, Jesus and I. We are one, Jesus alone…It is He Who thinks, acts… in a word, who lives, and I buried, in His Heart, am so little that He alone can see me. I have surrendered all…” There is no limit to the way God works in our lives if we are single minded for Him.

St John Vianney, one of the all-time great saints. A French priest who died in 1859. The Patron Saint of all Priests. He was praying over a possessed woman. Satan spoke through her, saying to St John: “If there were three people like you in the world, my kingdom would be destroyed.”

What is needed are just two more St John Vianney’s. That’s where you and I come in.

By Father Doug Harris 2020

+61 8 9444 6131

49 Jugan Street, Mount Hawthorn WA 6016, Australia

©2020 by Saint Bernadette Catholic Church, Mount Hawthorn, Western Australia.

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