12 May 2009

Cum Ipso Sum In Tribulatione

As I’m sure many of you know, June 19 kicks off a year for what I hope and pray will be a tremendous blessing for priests and the Church. Pope Benedict XVI has declared it a “Year for Priests” in honor of Saint Jean Marie Vianney, the patron saint of priests.

I’ve been getting my “game face” on by reading the
Vultus Christi blog. It is owned and written by a priest and many of his entries are about the priesthood. Please check it out, if you haven’t already had the pleasure of visiting there.

Below are extracts from a homily I was reading from Saint Bernard of Clairvaux. As I was reading these words from this great saint and from the verses in Sacred Scripture on which he reflects, it seemed to me that this very much could be applied to our beloved priests. After the scandal, the priesthood was scarred and for some it led to unusual personal practices such as not wearing their clerical collars in public places outside of the church building. It really has been a trying time for many of them and the Church due to the abominable acts of some. May this “Year for Priests” and the intercession of the Curé d’Ars shower them with heavenly blessings.

My translation of the Latin from Saint Bernard’s homily was done a bit hurriedly but I think it still represents the gist of his message.

Cum ipso sum in tribulatione, ait Deus; et ego alium interim quam tribulationem requiram? Mihi adhærere Deo bonum est, non solum autem, sed et ponere in Domino Deo spem meam, quia eripiam eum, inquit, et glorificabo eum.
I am with him in tribulation, says God; and should I meanwhile seek anything other than tribulation? It is good for me to adhere to God, not only that, but also, put my hope in the Lord my God, because He says I will deliver him and glorify him.

Emmanuel, nobiscum Deus. Descendit, ut prope sit his qui tribulato sunt corde, ut nobiscum sit in tribulatione nostra. Erit autem quando rapiemur in nubibus obviam Christo in aera, et sit semper cum Domino erimus, si tamen curemus interim eum habere nobiscum, ut sit comes viæ, qui patriæ redditor est futurus, immo qui tunc patria, modo sit via.
Emmanuel, God with us. He came down to be near to those who are troubled in heart, to be with us in our tribulation. There will be a time when we are taken up together in the clouds to meet Christ in the air, and thus always be with the Lord, but meanwhile nevertheless we must take care to have Him with us, to be our companion on our way, that He Who will render us our homeland, or rather He Who will then be our homeland may now be our way.

Bonum mihi, Domine, tribulari, dummodo ipse sis mecum. Bonum mihi, Domine, in tribulatione magis amplecti te, in camino habere, te mecum, quam esse sine te vel in cælo. Aurum probat fornax, et viros iustos tentatio tribulationis. Ibi, ibi, cum eis es, Domine; ibi in tuo nomine congregatis medius astas.
It is good for me, Lord, to suffer, provided that You are with me. It is better for me, Lord, to embrace You in tribulation, to have You with me in the furnace, than be without You, even in heaven. Gold is tested in the furnace, and just men in the trial of tribulation. There, there with them are You, Lord; there in Your Name, You stand in the midst of those assembled.

Sævit ignis, sed Dominus nobiscum est in tribulatione. Si Deus nobiscum, quis contra nos? Nihilominus quoque si ille eripit, quis est qui rapiat de manu eius? Si ille glorificat, quis humiliabit?
The fire rages, but the Lord is with us in tribulation. If God is with us, who can be against us? Furthermore if He rescues us, who is it that can snatch us out of His Hand? If He glorifies us, who can humiliate us?

What Saint Bernard shares next can most especially be applied to a faithful, holy priest. Saint Bernard places these words on the Lips of God.

Exinanivit penitus semetipsum, nec se ex his patitur occupari, quibus novit se non posse repleri. Non ignorat ad cuius imaginem conditus sit, cuius magnitudinis capax sit, nec sustinet de modico crescere, ut de maximo minuatur.
He has thoroughly emptied himself, and does not allow himself to be occupied with things which he knows cannot satisfy him. He is not ignorant of Whose Image he is made in, Whose greatness he is capable of, and he will not grasp at a small thing, which would mean missing the greatest.