Today during Low Mass, in the midst of our recessional hymn when the choir was gussied up with wind and conviction singing the final verse of “Soul of My Saviour,” I observed our parish priest, Fr Browne, and the change of his demeanour as we all recalled Jesus’s unfailing comfort and protection until our death and thereafter. Our breasts were truly filled with God’s peace and comfort, and Father who, after sixty years of ordination can still genuflect and bow and offer the sacrifice of Mass without any bodily complaints, kept a well-folded away secret: it was his birthday. Fr Browne is truly a humble man, and a true Jesuit. One of the only few left. Probably the only one still around offering the Mass according to the 1962 Missal.
But what remains remarkable is the immense humility of this gentle man, a character to say the least, and a man of humour and quiet contentment. My grandparents remember him, also, as a quiet and graceful soul often found in prayer. When preaching, he most usually concludes with
“and find yourself a good, Catholic bible. And read about the passion and death of our Lord. And pray the Rosary, and read about Our Lord’s passion. Meditate on what your saviour has done for you.”
We need priests like this! Each suffering an offering, every word a prayer, many gestures, a sacrifice. Today I experienced the lovingkindness of God in another, new way. Through an eighty-six year old priest, whose life is dedicated to the love of the children of God. I hope to God that some day I can be his age, and as good a priest as him.
So, what is the lesson? It is hard to find role-models for young men, aspiring to be priests, when free-love hippies dominate the priesthood. I know one after the other whom, in this diocese alone, campaign and celebrate gay ‘marriage.’ I know one after another whom, in an effort to be ‘understanding’ or ‘loving’ stash away the truth and accept a parishioners obvious sin, such as living in a state of cohabitation. We need more priests who will tend to the sin-sick soul: and this is all of us. I need someone to tell me about the love of God, and not what I want to hear, but what I NEED to hear.
And for this, oh Lord, we pray.