On the feast of Saints Peter & Paul, 29th June 2022, Rev. Fr. Bernard Bevan was among eight ordained to the priesthood at St. Pius X Seminary, Ecône, Switzerland. He joins his brother, Rev. Fr. Rupert Bevan, in the priesthood and joins his sister, Sr. Philomena T.O.P., in a life devoted the service of the Divine Master.
Sermon from the first Mass of Rev. Fr. Bernard Bevan
This sermon is an abridged translation of a sermon given by Archbishop Lefebvre in 1979 at the first Mass of a newly ordained priest. It was given by Rev. Fr. Robert Brucciani.
With what joy we accompany you today to the altar of Our Lord. All those around you, all those who are here and who have come to attend, to participate in your first mass, rejoice.
What you have received
First of all, dear Father, I would ask you to look back and see all the graces that the Good Lord has given you. You have had special graces throughout your life, thanks to your family, thanks to the prayers of those around you. Thank God for all these graces today.
What you are
And then, if we consider what you are today, then this is one more joy for us. You are a priest, after having spent six years in the seminary, after having prayed as you did with all your soul, with all your heart.
What you will be
I will tell you in two words now: Take a look at the future, so that you can apply the program that you certainly already have in your heart, in your soul, in your intelligence and which is the result of what you have meditated during the six years of your seminary.
What is a priest?
What is a priest? The priest is the one who goes to the altar; the priest is the one who offers the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. And who not only offers the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, but lives his Mass every day, at every moment of his life. The life of the priest must be what the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is.
To know what a priest is, we look at what the Mass is. The Church teaches us, our Holy Mother the Church teaches us through the Sacrifice of the Mass. Priests can know what their duty is, what their orders are, what their responsibilities are, what graces they will receive through the Mass.
And the faithful should also understand through the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass what their priest should be – their priest whom they must love and whom they need to receive the grace of Our Lord.
The priest is the light of the world
The first part of the Mass teaches us that the priest is the light of the world. And that the light is not to be placed under a bushel: but it is to be placed on a lamp stand so that that it may illuminate all those around it, and that, seeing the works of those who are the light, souls may sing the glory of God. This is what Our Lord tells us in his Sermon on the Mount.
You will teach the children [and adults] the catechism – those fundamental truths of our life which explain to us why we are here on earth, why Our Lord Jesus Christ came; why we have the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, why the sacraments.
You will also teach all those who are preparing for the sacraments – these sources of divine life, these sources of graces, these sources of happiness, of joy, these sources of eternity that are the sacraments.
The priest carries the sins of the world
The priest is not only the one who carries the Truth, the one who teaches the Truth and the faith, but the priest is the one who sacrifices himself. The priest must carry his cross with Our Lord Jesus Christ.
And the priest in particular, in the image of Our Lord Jesus Christ, in the image of his Divine Master, carries the sins of the world.
If there is anything mysterious, painful and at the same time deeply comforting for the priest, it is the ministry of the sacrament of penance, the ministry of confession. There, souls pour into the heart of the priest all their misery. And the priest carries – in the absolute secrecy of confession – the priest carries all these sins of the world. He carries them in pain, in suffering, like our Lord Jesus Christ, but also in the joy of having been able to wash them away with the Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
The priest carries the suffering of others
And he also cares for bodily pains and trials. He goes to visit souls who suffer illness, disunity, or poverty. He comforts them, teaches them to carry the Cross in a profitable way; in a profitable way for their souls, for their spiritual life, for their eternal life.
He goes to visit the sick in the hospitals to visit souls who need the priest; need this word of the priest who speaks to them about Our Lord Jesus Christ, who speaks to them about the Cross. And seeing the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ, souls take courage and understand that if Jesus suffered – He who did not sin – we who have sinned, we need to suffer.
Not only to redeem the sins of others and lead others to eternal life, but to atone for our own sins. Then the pain is transformed, the trial is transformed into joy, into deep and supernatural joy.
The priest carries grace to others
And finally, the priest is a man who carries grace, who carries life, who carries spiritual life, supernatural life. What a joy for the priest to baptise, to give life, eternal life to souls. What a joy for the priest to give Our Lord Jesus Christ when he comes down from the altar to souls thirsting for Jesus Christ, thirsting for life, thirsting for eternal life; souls who come to the altar to receive their Creator, their Saviour, the One who is everything to them.
Oh how beautiful, how consoling is the life of the priest: to carry the light to the world, to carry the Cross of Our Lord, to carry the sins of the world, to carry the suffrances of the world, and to carry sanctifying grace to souls. That, my dear Father, is what you will have as a program throughout your priestly life. If you live your Mass, you will be happy. In the midst of difficulties and trials, you will experience the abundant blessings of an unspeakable joy, a constant joy, a joy that will not perish.
The priest and the Blessed Virgin Mary
And in closing, I want to raise your eyes and your heart to the Blessed Virgin Mary. For if there is a creature here on earth who can teach us priests – what our life is, what the sacrifice of the altar is – it is the Blessed Virgin Mary. For if she is the mother of the eternal Priest, she who formed the eternal Priest in her womb, how much more capable is she of forming in us, the priest, the minister of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the minister of her Divine Son.
Therefore, ask the Blessed Virgin Mary to form the priest in you, in the image of the priest she formed, who is Jesus Himself. And I am convinced that you will find these blessings in the course of your priestly apostolate.
May God help you, my dear Father, to keep this devotion to your heavenly Mother, so that it may bring you, in the course of your apostolate, a continuation of the joy that animates us today. +