Friday 15 March 2019

Called by Name - Father Michael E. Giesler - Twelve Guideline Meditations for Diocesan Priests

Called by Name: 
Twelve Guideline Meditations for Diocesan Priests
Father Michael E. Giesler
ISBN 9781466371231
ISBN 1466371234

I am not a priest and considering my marriage and age of my children I likely never will be. But after reading five other books by Father Michael R. Giesler I could not help but read this one. And I am thankful I have. I loved this book and can honestly recommend it to all diocesan priests. In fact, that is my first suggestion to you. But a copy and give it to your priest. I have known many great priests and been fortunate to be able to count on one hand those I have known well that I did not respect. And I wish I was in a position to buy this book by the case to give away to priests. In the forward Archbishop Robert J. Carlson of Saint Louis states:

“During the 2009-2010 Year of the Priest, Father Giesler composed twelve reflections on diocesan priesthood, inspired by the life and writings of saints John Mary Vianney, Phillip Neri, and Josemaria Escriva. He did this in addition to writing and seeing published a helpful ‘Guidebook for Confessors’. All twelve of these meditations, published here as ‘Called by Name’, have an appealing and practical style, interspersed with personal prayer; they address the life and challenges of diocesan priests as they begin the second decade of the 21st century.” 

And also:

“In sum, ‘Called by Name’ is ideal spiritual reading for the busy contemporary priests; it effectively focuses him on the purpose of his ordination, and provides him with specific ways to grow in holiness of life.”

And I could not agree more. It is a great read. This little volume of 99 pages is packed with some amazing information. I believe any priest would benefit from reading these meditations. And I as a lay person have used them to be able to pray for priests more specifically. In the introduction Father Giesler states:

“The reflections cover such topics as vocation, the work of the priest, life of prayer, humility, obedience to their Ordinary, love for celibacy, devotion to Mary, helping the poor through the works of mercy, having hope and giving hope to others, fraternity for other priests, and making Holy Mass to be the center of our priesthood. All of these topics of course overlap, so the reader should not be surprised if he finds certain key concepts and quotations repeated and emphasized in the different sections.”

The chapters in the book are:

Bibliographical Note
Life of prayer
Serving the faithful
Supernatural Hope and Optimism
Fidelity to the Church
Holy Mass and the Eucharist
Holy Purity and Celibacy
Sharing Christ’s Challenge of Holiness
Redemptive Sacrifice
Caring for Our Brothers in the priesthood
Mary Our Mother

In the first reflection ‘VOCATION’ Father Giesler states:

“Our vocation takes into account many factors: our family history, our schooling, our temperament, and all the events – even those that seemed inconsequential at the time – that led us to the call of priesthood. Whenever they occurred they were workings of God’s grace in our lives – perhaps in dramatic ways, perhaps in slow almost imperceptible ways. … Now it is up to each one of us to correspond to that gift, for the glory and love of God first of all, and then for the service of the souls that he has entrusted to us.”

Later in that same chapter he says:

“The call to priesthood is first of all then a personal call to give praise to God through our work and prayer. It is also a personal call to become saints. It would be a waste of time and energy if we were to try and make others holy and neglect our own spiritual lives. A priest must be a man of God and have Jesus Christ as his model. This means that literally everything that we do, from our first thought in the morning to our last thought at night, should be for the glory of God.”

The passage in this meditation that hit me the most is:

“The final test of any vocation is perseverance. “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit” (Jn 15:5). Abide! What a beautiful old English word! It signifies not only being in a place – but remaining there in a fixed and permanent way. May I always abide in you, Lord, as your faithful priest and minister. We have all known priests who have left, often in very painful circumstances for themselves and those around them, and frequently with scandal to the church. We must realize that the ultimate goal of our calling as priests is to be faithful to the end. Let’s resolve, again with God’s constant help, to die in the state of grace and in the state of priesthood.”

In the second chapter ‘Life Of Prayer’ Father Giesler states:

“The glory which thou hast given Me I have given it them that they may be one even as We are one” (Jn 17:22) Our Lord spoke those words at the Last Supper, to remind His followers forever about the real source of effectiveness. The Priority of a priest’s life is to be always united to the Master; therefore he puts the things of God first, and in union with God, he serves others.”

A few paragraphs later he advises:

“He must therefore have certain priorities in his life, which means that he has to say yes to some things, and no to others. First he must say yes to his greatest privilege and duty as a priest; to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of Mass with the attention and devotion. It is the center of the Church’s life, and of his own life. We should therefore prepare for it well, by spending a little time in prayer before it begins – either with a Breviary or a period of meditation. Many pious priests over the centuries have also invoked their ministerial Archangel before saying Mass.”

I hope that from those few quotes you will see the power of this book. I have already picked up and given away a few copies of this book. It was an informative read, as a layperson. And I encourage you to pick it up and give it to the parish priest in your home parish, or to other priests that you know. I am certain it will be edifying for them, and through that bring even more blessings to their ministry. 

I will state it again, I implore you to buy this and give it to the priests you know! Bless them with this book. And be praying for them.

Note: This book is part of a series of reviews: 2019 Catholic Reading Plan!

Books by Rev. Michael Giesler:
You See Me, You Hear Me
Guidebook for Confessors
Family Grace: A Story of Conversion Through Friendship
Called by Name: Twelve Guideline Meditations for Diocesan Priests

Christ the Rejected Stone
How Christ Saves Souls―with Us: The Mystery of Co-Redemption

Spanish Editions:
Dios te ve y te oye


Christian Historical Fiction Trilogy:
Grain Of Wheat


Author Profile and Interview with Father Michael E. Giesler.

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