Last Friday, June 19, the Church under Pope Benedict XVI began the Year for Priests. The date was chosen as the 150th anniversary of the death of St. John Vianney, the parish priest of Ars, France, and the patron saint of parish priests. However, we haven’t completed the Jubilee Year of St. Paul yet. The Jubilee year doesn’t end until June 29, when the Church celebrates the Solemnity of Saint Peter and Saint Paul. There are ten days when the Year for Priests overlaps with the Year of St. Paul.
I regret that I didn’t really get into the Year of St. Paul until it was very nearly over. Once our parish Bible study on St. Paul and the sacraments started, I began searching out other material, some of which is appropriate for this overlap week. I want to try to keep more on top of things during this Year for Priests.
Pope Benedict XVI kicked off this Year for Priests with a letter encouraging priests to look to St. John Vianney as an example of a vocation to the priesthood lived to its fullest. His predecessor, Pope Benedict XV, wrote an encyclical letter of exhortation to priests, Humani generis redemptionem, in which he encouraged them to look to St. Paul as an example of what a faithful priest should be (see paragraphs 13-19). I hope to write more in future posts about both letters.
As long as we’re talking about the overlap between the Year of St. Paul and the Year for Priests, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that Dr. Scott Hahn posted at the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology an article entitled Paul the Priest.
Also, give a listen to this episode of Fr. Charles Connor’s series, Catholic Priesthood Through the Ages, in which Fr. Connor discusses the priesthood in the mind of St. Paul and the early Church.