The memorial of Pope St. Gregory the Great is one of my favorite feasts each year not only account of his patronage of music, but also on account of the beauty of the Collect given in the missal for his Mass.
It reads, in part: Ut de proféctu sanctárum óvium fiant gáudia aetérna pastórum. This clause is well rendered in the current English translation in the Sacramentary: “May the growth of your people in holiness be the eternal joy of our shepherds.”
I have been inspired by the beauty of that prayer from at least the time I began praying the Divine Office, the year before I entered the seminary. It takes on a new beauty for me, however, as I encounter this Collect as a newly ordained priest. In the estimation of Holy Mother Church, my eternal joy, as a chosen shepherd, should be the growth in holiness of the people entrusted to my care. How much I have experienced this already, in so short a time as a priest!
I wish the people of my parish could see things for a day as their priest sees them. I wish they could watch themselves coming up to receive Communion and be edified by the devotion on their faces. I wish they could experience their confessor’s fulfillment when he grants them pardon and peace through absolution. I wish they could feel the excitement of receiving a phone call from a woman interested in RCIA. I wish they could know their spiritual father’s joy when he hears the school children praying and singing to God.
Watching the people of my parish grow in holiness has been exhilarating already. It must be like a biological father watching his son or daughter excel in music or basketball or mathematics. It is the exhilaration of watching one’s charge become what he or she is supposed to be.
And we are all supposed to be holy.