This year Fr. Greg Maturi, OP (1st left) celebrates 25 years of priestly ordination. He was ordained on 20 March 1994. He and his three classmates celebrated their anniversary this year on 24 August at the very Church in which they were ordained, namely St Dominic’s in Washington DC. Fr. Romanus Cessario, OP preached while the Provincial, Fr. Ken Letoile, OP, gave some closing remarks. 41 Dominican priests concelebrated the Mass, and after the Mass a reception took place in the parish hall.
Although being a priest is very rewarding, it is not easy. A priest encounters may temptations to live a comfortable, convenient and superficial life. Celibacy presents a great challenge, but equally challenging is living a life of humility and simplicity. The things of this world are seductive, and priests need to fight the temptation to live in a worldly way. To this end pope Francis has made it his signature issue to encourage religious priests to live more authentically their vow of poverty. He even encourages diocesan priests, who do not take a vow of poverty, to live simply and not imitate the habits of a consumeristic and self-centered culture.
We Dominicans have an advantage in this area in that we have the patrimony of such great saints as St Thomas Aquinas who though a great scholar, lived a humble and simple life. Perhaps he learned it from his professor, St Albert the Great, who while bishop of Regensburg refused even to ride a horse, so great was his humility and simplicity. These great scholars realized that what was most important for a priest is living as a humble and simple life. Most of all we have the example of St Dominic, who himself lived as a humble and simple priest. We see this truth especially in the inheritence he bequeathed to us: “have charity for one another, guard humility, and make voluntary poverty your only treasure.”
The great restorer of Dominican life in 19th century France, Henri Lacordaire, best described the priesthood this way:
To live in the midst of the world, without wishing its pleasures;
To be a member of each family, yet belonging to none;
To share all suffering; to penetrate all secrets; to heal all wounds;
To go from men to God and offer Him their prayers;
To return from God to men to bring pardon and hope;
To have a heart of fire for Charity, and a heart of bronze for Chastity;
To teach and to pardon, console and bless always.
My God, what a life; and it is yours, O priest of Jesus Christ.