Bulletin Banner- Golden engraved background

"As Strings to a Harp" - Archbishop Leo's Message to Priests for Holy Thursday

Posted : Mar-25-2024

This content is from another website - Click here to view on original site.

+Leo COA Square


Message to Priests for Holy Thursday 2024

Most Rev. Francis Leo

Metropolitan Archbishop of Toronto


As Strings to a Harp


My dear Brother Priests,

May Jesus and Mary be in your hearts.

On this day, the eve of his saving Passion, when Our Divine Lord instituted the sacred Priesthood, I wish to reach out to all of you, both diocesan and religious, active and retired, to thank you, encourage you and bless you. It is indeed a special day for the Church, not only because today Christ left us the Memorial of his Passion and Resurrection in the Sacrament of the holy Eucharist; he likewise established this wonderful new way of being present, of loving, of serving and of giving us his grace – the sacrament of apostolic ministry carried out by his ordained priests. There is so much we can say and reflect upon with respect to this divine and pastoral mission entrusted by Christ to his apostles and which continues to be exercised in the Church through those men who are called to the priesthood of Jesus Christ. However, I wish to simply call to mind the beautiful and inspiring words of St. Ignatius of Antioch which we pray in the Office of Readings, 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time. Ignatius was the second Bishop of Antioch and had his fair share of “the burden of the day and the heat” (Mt 20:12) having been arrested, condemned to death, and transported to Rome to be thrown to the wild beasts in the arena and ultimately martyred in 107 AD. We know that, after serving the Lord so courageously and tirelessly, during his fate-filled journey to his ignominious death he wrote a number of pastoral letters to the various and budding communities of the faithful.

In his epistle to the Ephesians, he underscored the gift and necessity of ecclesial unity. His words still ring true today, in every instance of Church life:

I am taking the opportunity to urge you to be united in conformity with the mind of God. For Jesus Christ, our life, without whom we cannot live, is the mind of the Father, just as the bishops, appointed over the whole earth, are in conformity with the mind of Jesus Christ. It is fitting, therefore, that you should be in agreement with the mind of the bishop as in fact you are. Your excellent presbyters, who are a credit to God, are as suited to the bishop as strings to a harp. So, in your harmony of mind and heart the song you sing is Jesus Christ. Every one of you should form a choir, so that, in harmony of sound through harmony of hearts, and in unity taking the note from God, you may sing with one voice through Jesus Christ to the Father. If you do this, he will listen to you and see from your good works that you are members of his Son. It is then an advantage to you to live in perfect unity, so that at all times you may share in God”.

Beloved Priests of the archdiocese, as you give of yourselves generously and wholeheartedly for the salvation of souls, know that I am with you and lifting you up in prayer to the throne of grace and mercy. As you exercise daily and with apostolic zeal the sacred ministry and show yourselves to be good shepherds and spiritual fathers to the faithful, remember that you are loved and cherished, though you may not hear it or experience it as often as you should. And as you labour selflessly, with heartfelt devotion, unfailing commitment and integrity of life, be reminded that you are precious in the eyes of the Lord and to the entire Church community.

The holy Bishop of Antioch, in his letter to the Trallians, referred to priests as “the senate of God and the assembly of the apostles.” Consequently, as apostles, missionary disciples and indeed icons of Christ himself, we journey through this grace-filled Easter Triduum calling to mind the day we were born as priests and the beloved Passion, Death and Resurrection of our Eternal High Priest, Christ Jesus. In these most significant and sacred days of our salvation, let us renew our commitment not only to be faithful to him and to our sacred calling until death, but also to be agents of communion, instruments of unity, fathers who strive to keep our spiritual families together, singing Jesus Christ, in unison. As strings to a harp and in profound harmony of mind and heart with me as archbishop and successor to the apostles (though most unworthily) and with each other as spiritual brothers, let us walk resolutely along the path of priestly holiness while sharing with all those who cross our path the unfathomably saving plan of the Lord whose messengers and servants we are by his grace and providence.

Thank you most sincerely for all that you do for the Church in Toronto; thank you for praying each day for the needs of the Church and the conversion of the world; thank you for preaching the Gospel with constancy and fidelity; thank you for incarnating daily in your apostolic work the priestly Fiat inspired by Our Lady; thank you for nourishing the People of God with the Bread of Angels; thank you for your dedicated ministry of reconciliation; thank you for welcoming the needy and the broken; thank you for witnessing to the power of the Resurrection. Dear Fathers, brothers and sons in the Lord, Blessed Holy Thursday, Happy feast of the Priesthood and may you come to know ever more personally, in the midst of your communities and with your priestly heart, the transforming love of the Lord.

Sincerely Yours in Jesus with Mary,

Most Rev. Francis Leo
Metropolitan Archbishop of Toronto