A new priest is a gift of the newness of God. He is a sign of the glorious Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, a manifestation of Gods love and care. Our only response could be gratitude, and that is why we are here today, to give thanks to a God for his superabundant mercies and kindnesses.
We are so very grateful:
-NOT ONLY because God created Fr Ryan. When his parents cooperated to become instruments of God's Love and Power God willed to breath into existence something that never existed before in the universe. He decided out of love, he willed to create, Fr Ryan's soul directly out of nothing. God called Fr Ryan. He called him into existence. We are truly grateful for this.
-NOT ONLY are we grateful for the many gifts he has given Fr Ryan. It can be said that Gods love for the Church is manifested in endowing and gifting the Church's ministers with a whole variety of blessings and gifts.
I remember the first time I ever met him. I was struck by some very particular gifts God gave him. And here I don't mean to puff up Fr Ryan or his family, but as I said to give thanks and praise to God.
-Gift of faith, and to see all things with the eyes of the mysteries of faith. This is a very important gift for a priest to have, to spiritualize our human experiences. He must constantly help people find God's purpose and plan, especially in the midst of all the many hardships, aches and pains which they have.
-Gift of idealism. The first conversation I had with Fr Ryan was about contemplation, prayer, and how each soul was made for prayer like fish were made for water. It's so important for priests to have this sense of idealism so they know the way things should be, or rather, where the need to go. Priests need to have this gift so that they can see people in the beautiful way that God sees them. Did you know that God sees us as he desires us to be? He loves his sons and daughters according to the holiness to which he calls them. He doesn't see as primarily as sinners, adulterers, idolaters, thieves and liars. He sees us as his children. Unless a priest has the gift of idealism he would never see Gods children the way God does. But don't worry Fr Ryan is not going to float up and away to ivory towers and rainbows in the sky. God never gives the gift of idealism without giving the other gift of a thirst for realism.
-Realism for Fr Ryan and every priest is this. Just as we are right now, exactly as we find ourselves in this very moment, with all our faults and failures, pains and passions, pride and presumptions, with all the blindness and foolishness we have. Exactly as we are right now God loves us. God loves us exactly as we are. A priest has to show this reality and live in this reality very deeply, especially with those caught in sin. In fact another word for realism is humility. It is Vitamin A - Acceptance.
-Another place where I see Fr Ryan express this gift of realism is in his sense of humor and a sense of irony. Fr Ryan's jokes are almost always about placing two things together that we don't normally think of. And I dare say Gods sense of humor is like this too. A priest must help people with a sense of humor to help them laugh at themselves, and not take themselves too seriously. This is because we are not where we should be. When we see the lofty calling of sanctity to which we are called and then take a look at where we are now we could despair, we could get really sad, but humor in this situation is based on the hope that the God who mightily and tenderly loves us will indeed bring us by his power to where we need to go.
-Another gift God gave Fr Ryan is a keen intellect. A priest needs a keen intellect not just to know a lot of things and read a lot of books or tell people big words but to put on the mind of Christ. What is the mind of Christ? According to scripture it is this - to humble oneself. Though he was in the form of God. Jesus did not deem equality with God, but humbled himself. A priests mind, Fr Ryan's mind is to humble himself beneath every other creature and to ask himself, using the powerful and creative spontaneity of the Spirit to discover the way that each person needs to find to God. A priests mind doesn't shrink before each and every person, trying to bring all into communion with the most holy Trinity.
-We give thanks too that God gave Fr Ryan a missionary heart. A priest terribly needs this today. To love All with the very Sacred Heart of Jesus, to seek the salvation of all souls and the willingness to go to the ends of the earth to proclaim the Salvation that comes only from The Lord Jesus Christ.
-A gift of real relationship with Our Blessed Mother. Fr Ryan has a close friendship with Mother Mary. Notice I didn't say merely a devotion, or a practice of saying the rosary, or wearing the scapular. A real relation includes devotion but goes far beyond it. A priest desperately needs to stay close to Our Lady, but also to lead souls to her, especially persons who are very broken, or those called to a very intimate communion with Jesus Christ. A priest is very much like Our Lady. He carries Jesus to others, gives The Lord flesh in the sacraments and is an advocate and merciful guide to union with Christ, very much like Mama Mary.
-God gave Fr Ryan a vocation to SOLT. Not just to be a priest, but a SOLT priest. At first Fr Ryan thought that this meant he had a calling to contemplative life. Someone just told me that he thought Fr Ryan would be a great missionary. Which is it? A contemplative or a missionary? Both! By joining a missionary community that bases it's whole existence on communion with the Blessed Trinity through Mary, Fr Ryan is called to be a contemplative in action.
It also means Fr Ryan is called to work on Ecclesial teams of priests, sisters, and laity, called to live in the communion of the Church of the three vocations and to shine forth the communion of the Trinity.
St Pope John Paul the great said that our present age demands a very particular kind of holiness, a spirituality of communion, a holiness of relationships. He said that this is the way of the Church for the third Christian millennium. He said:
"It is within the Church’s mystery, as a mystery of Trinitarian communion in missionary tension, that every Christian identity is revealed, and likewise the specific identity of the priest and his ministry. Indeed, the priest, by virtue of the consecration which he receives in the Sacrament of Orders, is sent forth by the Father through the mediatorship of Jesus Christ, to whom he is configured in a special way as Head and Shepherd of his people, in order to live and work by the power of the Holy Spirit in service of the Church and for the salvation of the world. . .Consequently, the nature and mission of the ministerial priesthood cannot be defined except through this multiple and rich interconnection of relationships which arise from the Blessed Trinity and are prolonged in the communion of the Church, as a sign and instrument of Christ, of communion with God and of the unity of all humanity” (Pastores dabo vobis, no. 12).
Although all these gifts are amazing and especially God is amazing, who continually pours out many graces upon us in new priests. We are NOT ONLY grateful for all these wonderful things. There is one gift that we are most grateful to God for today. It is that he has granted Fr Ryan a share in the One, eternal priesthood of Jesus Christ.
God spoke and created the heavens and the earth. He spoke, he willed into existence Fr Ryan at the moment if his conception. But what we are truly grateful for today is that in a few minutes Fr Ryan will speak the words of consecration and by his words God almighty will come into the world in a new way. This is the amazing part of priesthood. That the creature created by the Creator will speak and bring forth the Creator. That God in his amazing humility will allow his priest to spread his divine substance in the Eucharistic Sacrifice. It was for this reason that St Jean Vianney said of the priesthood that it is "a masterpiece of love of the Heart of Jesus."
We are grateful God has granted Fr Ryan the power to forgive sins. This gift is absolutely astonishing. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that yes, we agree with the Pharisees and some of our contemporaries who say, "Only God can forgive sins." Yes this is true, but the amazing thing about the priesthood of Jesus Christ, is that Jesus Christ, true God and true man, who is co-equal or consubstantial, one in being with God the Father speaks through the priest and says, I absolve you! What great love he has for us! That he allows us to hear not just with our heart, but with our ears what Jesus said to the paralytic, "My son, your sins are forgiven."
God has blessed his hands that when he blesses, the eternal and holy power of God flows forth to bless the people, the earth, so return all to the goodness of which it was made.
God has blessed the voice of Fr Ryan and given him the gift of sacred preaching, that he may speak the previous words of salvation, saying the good things that men need to hear, the things that will really help them.
God has configured Fr Ryan in the church as an alter Christus, an other Christ, to lead Gods people into the mystery of his love.
So how should we express our gratitude to God for this wonderful gift? What can we do to say thank you to God
Here are three P's I will give you to help you remember.
Pray in thanksgiving for this gift. Offer prayers of thanks to God but also pray for Fr Ryan. He has a lot of responsibility and has now become the prime target for the attacks of the evil one. Pray for his protection.
Ask this new Priest to exercise the gift of priesthood. Ask him for confession, to offer a mass, to intercede at the altar for you and your intentions. Ask for his blessing, to bless your home, your religious articles. Ask him for priestly assurance, consolation, or advice. Help him exercise the gift of priesthood.
Please, please, please, do not be an obstacle to Fr Ryan's ministry but a help. Do not say to a man who has just pledged his life in celibate gift of his manhood to God, "Gusto mo kasawa? Don't you wish you could get married? This is like going to a newly married man saying, well she is not much to look at, don't you wish you married someone else. Why not just slap his face. Actually it is the face of Christ you slap when you say things like that to his priests.
Jesus Christ was and is celibate. Fr Ryan gave and will give the gift of his life, his manhood, his inmost intimate being as a life long companion and friend to a spouse who is Pure Love itself. I assure you that giving your heart of hearts over to pure love is nothing but a real recipe for happiness.
In a study over 7 years that psychologically tested over 3700 priests in 32 different diocese the results were amazing.
75% of the priests said they were very happy with the gift of celibacy
90% said they had deeply satisfying and fulfilling relationships with people
92.5% said they were very happy with the choice of their life's profession
If you are grateful for Fr Ryan in this very happy life he has chosen then support him in it.