1957 letter: “These men, Your Excellency, are devils, the wrath of God is upon them
the National Catholic Reporter
Mar. 30, 2009
By Tom Roberts
The Servants of the Paraclete complex in Jemez Springs, N.M., in 1993 (Jeffrey D. Scott)
As early as the mid-1950s, decades before the clergy sexual-abuse crisis broke publicly across the U.S. Catholic landscape, the founder of a religious order that dealt regularly with priest sex abusers was so convinced of their inability to change that he searched for an island to purchase with the intent of using it as a place to isolate such offenders, according to documents recently obtained by NCR.
Fr. Gerald Fitzgerald, founder of the Servants of the Paracletes, an order established in 1947 to deal with problem priests, wrote regularly to bishops in the United States and to Vatican officials, including the pope, of his opinion that many sexual abusers in the priesthood should be laicized immediately.
Fitzgerald was a prolific correspondent who wrote regularly of his frustration with and disdain for priests “who have seduced or attempted to seduce little boys or girls.” His views are contained in letters and other correspondence that had previously been under court seal and were made available to NCR by a California law firm in February.
Fitzgerald’s convictions appear to significantly contradict the claims of contemporary bishops that the hierarchy was unaware until recent years of the danger in shuffling priests from one parish to another and in concealing the priests’ problems from those they served.
It is clear, too, in letters between Fitzgerald and a range of bishops, among bishops themselves, and between Fitzgerald and the Vatican, that the hierarchy was aware of the problem and its implications well before the problem surfaced as a national story in the mid-1980s.
Cardinal Roger Mahony of the Los Angeles archdiocese, reacting in February to a federal investigation into his handling of the crisis, said: “We have said repeatedly that … our understanding of this problem and the way it’s dealt with today evolved, and that in those years ago, decades ago, people didn’t realize how serious this was, and so, rather than
Indeed, some psychology experts seemed to hold the position that priest offenders could be returned to ministry. Even the Paracletes, as the order developed and grew, employed experts who said that certain men could be returned to ministry under stringent conditions and with strict supervision.
The order itself ultimately was so inundated with lawsuits regarding priests who molested children while or after being treated at its facility in Jemez Springs, N.M., that it closed the facility in 1995.
Whatever discussion occurred during the 1970s and 1980s over proper treatment, however, for nearly two decades Fitzgerald spoke a rather consistent conviction about the dim prospects for returning sex abusers to ministry. Fitzgerald seemed to know almost from the start the danger such priests posed. He was adamant in his conviction that priests who sexually abused children (often the language of that era was more circumspect in naming the problem) should not be returned to ministry.
In a 1957 letter to an unnamed archbishop, Fitzgerald said, “These men, Your Excellency, are devils and the wrath of God is upon them and if I were a bishop I would tremble when I failed to report them to Rome for involuntary layization [sic].” The letter, addressed to “Most dear Cofounder,” was apparently to Archbishop Edwin V. Byrne of Santa Fe, N.M., who was considered a cofounder of the Paraclete facility at Jemez Springs and a good friend of Fitzgerald.
Later in the same letter, in language that revealed deep passion, he wrote: “It is for this class of rattlesnake I have always wished the island retreat — but even an island is too good for these vipers of whom the Gentle Master said it were better they had not been born — this is an indirect way of saying damned, is it not?”
The documents were sealed at the request of the church in an earlier civil case involving Fr. Rudolph Kos of Dallas. Eleven plaintiffs won awards in the case in which Kos was accused of molesting minors over a 12-year period. He had been treated at the Paraclete facility in New Mexico. The documents were unsealed in 2007 by a court order obtained by the Beverly Hills law firm of Kiesel, Boucher & Larson, according to Anthony DeMarco, an attorney with the firm that has handled hundreds of cases for alleged victims of sexual abuse in the Los Angeles archdiocese and elsewhere.
According to Helen Zukin, another member of the firm, the documents have been used in some cases to dispute the church claim that it knew nothing about the behavior of sex abusers or the warning signs of abuse prior to the 1980s.
In a September 1952 letter to the then- bishop of Reno, Nev., Fitzgerald wrote: “I myself would be inclined to favor laicization for any priest, upon objective evidence, for tampering with the virtue of the young, my argument being, from this point onward the charity to the Mystical Body should take precedence over charity to the individual and when a man has so far fallen away from the purpose of the priesthood the very best that should be offered him is his Mass in the seclusion of a monastery. Moreover, in practice, real conversions will be found to be extremely rare. … Hence, leaving them on duty or wandering from diocese to diocese is contributing to scandal or at least to the approximate danger of scandal.” The advice was ignored and the priest was allowed to continue in ministry, and was ultimately accused of abusing numerous children, for which the church paid out huge sums in court awards.
While Fitzgerald told anyone who would listen of the futility of returning sexually abusive priests to ministry, that conviction became less absolute as the order, today headquartered in St. Louis, grew and the scope of its work became more complex. Fitzgerald, by most accounts, was deeply motivated by a sense of obligation to care for priests who were in trouble. Originally a priest of the Boston archdiocese for 12 years, he became a member of the Congregation of the Holy Cross in 1934, and started the Servants of the Paraclete in 1947. His concern at the time was primarily for priests struggling with alcoholism. As his new order matured and its ministry became known, bishops began referring priests with other maladies, particularly those who had been sexually abusive of children. The order for years was the primary source for care of priests in the United States with alcohol and sexual problems.
At times, Fitzgerald appears to have resisted taking in priests who had sexually abused youngsters. In his 1957 letter he requested concurrence from the cofounder archbishop “of what I consider a very vital decision on our part — that for the sake of preventing scandal that might endanger the good name of Via Coeli [the name of the New Mexico facility] we will not offer hospitality to men who have seduced or attempted to seduce” children. “Experience has taught us these men are too dangerous to the children of the parish and neighborhood for us to be justified in receiving them here.”
In September 1957 the bishop of Manchester, N.H., Matthew F. Brady, sought Fitzgerald’s advice regarding “a problem priest,” John T. Sullivan, who seemed sincerely repentant and whose difficulty “is not drink but a series of scandal-causing escapades with young girls. There is no section of the diocese in which he is not known and no pastor seems willing to accept him,” Brady wrote. The “escapades” involved molestation of young girls. In at least one instance, he procured an abortion for a teenager he had impregnated. In another case, he fathered a child and provided support to the mother until she later married. The charges of molesting girls would follow him the rest of his life.
“The solution of his problem seems to be a fresh start in some diocese where he is not known. It occurred to me that you might know of some bishop who would be willing to give him that opportunity,” Brady wrote in his original letter.
Fitzgerald responded that in his judgment the “repentance and amendment” in such cases “is superficial and, if not formally at least subconsciously, is motivated by a desire to be again in a position where they can continue their wonted activity. A new diocese means only green pastures.”
Fitzgerald added that the Paracletes had “adopted a definite policy not to recommend to bishops men of this character, even presuming the sincerity of their conversion. We feel that the protection of our glorious priesthood will demand, in time, the establishment of a uniform code of discipline and of penalties.”
He acknowledged the degree of deference with which Catholic clergy were treated even by civil authorities. “We are amazed to find how often a man who would be behind bars if he were not a priest is entrusted with the cura animarum [the care of souls],” he wrote.
Sullivan apparently had already been pulled from active ministry. In October 1957, less than a month after contacting Fitzgerald, Brady wrote a response to the bishop of Burlington, Vt., among the first of more than a dozen bishops approached by Sullivan for the next five years, warning against accepting him.
Brady then wrote a letter that he sent out time after time to bishops inquiring about Sullivan after he had requested acceptance for ministry. “My conscience will not allow me to recommend him to any bishop and I feel that every inquiring bishop should know some of the circumstances that range from parenthood, through violation of the Mann Act, attempted suicide, and abortion.
“Father Fitzgerald of Via Coeli would accept him only as a permanent guest to help save his soul but with no hope of recommending him to a bishop.”
According to a 2003 Washington Post story, Sullivan, who had bounced around from diocese to diocese for nearly 30 years, “was stripped of his faculties to serve as a priest after he kissed a 13-year-old girl in Laconia, N.H., in 1983, when he was 66. He died in 1999, never having faced a criminal charge.” After his death the church paid out more than a half-million dollars in awards to Sullivan’s victims, including three in Grand Rapids, Mich., and one in Amarillo, Texas, two dioceses that did not heed the warnings of the bishops in New Hampshire. The victims said they were abused when they were between 7 and 12 years old.
In April 1962, Fitzgerald wrote a five-page response to a query from the Vatican’s Congregation of the Holy Office about “the tremendous problem presented by the priest who through lack of priestly self-discipline has become a problem to Mother Church.” One of his recommendations was for “a more distinct teaching in the last years of the seminary of the heavy penalty involved in tampering with the innocence (or even non-innocence) of little ones.”
Regarding priests who have “fallen into repeated sins … and most especially the abuse of children, we feel strongly that such unfortunate priests should be given the alternative of a retired life within the protection of monastery walls or complete laicization.”
In August of the following year, he met with newly elected Pope Paul VI to inform him about his work and problems he perceived in the priesthood. His follow-up letter contained this assessment: “Personally I am not sanguine of the return of priests to active duty who have been addicted to abnormal practices, especially sins with the young. However, the needs of the church must be taken into consideration and an activation of priests who have seemingly recovered in this field may be considered but is only recommended where careful guidance and supervision is possible. Where there is indication of incorrigibility, because of the tremendous scandal given, I would most earnestly recommend total laicization.”
But by 1963, Fitzgerald’s powerful hold on the direction of the order was weakening. According to a 1993 affidavit by Fr. Joseph McNamara, who succeeded Fitzgerald as Servant General, the appointment of a new archbishop, James Davis, began a new era of the relationship between the order, which was a “congregation of diocesan right,” and the archdiocese. Davis and Fitzgerald apparently clashed over a number of issues. Davis was far more concerned than his predecessor about the business aspects of the Santa Fe facility and demanded greater accountability. He also demanded greater involvement of medical and psychological professionals, while “Fr. Gerald [Fitzgerald] distrusted lay programs, psychologists and psychiatrists,” favoring a more spiritual approach, according to McNamara.
McNamara said Fitzgerald was eventually forced from leadership by a combination of factors, not least of which was a growing disagreement with the bishop and other members of the order over the direction of the Paracletes. After 1965, said McNamara, Fitzgerald “never again resided at Via Coeli Monastery, nor did he ever regain the power he had once had.”
Nor did he get his island. In 1965 Fitzgerald had put a $5,000 deposit on an island in Barbados, near Carriacou, in the Caribbean that had a total purchase price of $50,000. But the new bishop apparently wanted nothing to do with owning an island, and Fitzgerald, who died in 1969, was forced to sell his long-sought means for isolating priest sex offenders.
When asked for comment, a spokesman for the Paraceltes referred NCR to historic accounts previoulsy written about the order.
Tom Roberts is NCR editor at large. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Catholic bishops warned in 1950s on child molesting priests
The New York Times
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
NEW YORK – The founder of a religious order that treats Roman Catholic priests who molest children concluded in the 1950s that offenders were unlikely to change and should not be returned to ministry, according to his letters, which were obtained by plaintiffs’ lawyers.
The Rev. Gerald Fitzgerald, founder of the Servants of the Paraclete, was so sure of the priests’ inability to control themselves that he tried to buy an island to isolate them.
Fitzgerald discussed the issue with Pope Paul VI and in correspondence with several bishops, according to the National Catholic Reporter, an independent newspaper that reported the full content of the letters Monday.
The documents challenge recent statements by U.S. bishops that before the clergy sex abuse scandal erupted in the 1980s and again in 2002, they were unaware of the risks of moving predators among parishes.
Fitzgerald wrote in a 1952 letter to Bishop Robert Dwyer of Reno, Nevada that “real conversions will be found to be extremely rare.”
“Hence, leaving them on duty or wandering from diocese to diocese is contributing to scandal or at least to the approximate danger of scandal,” he wrote.
The Los Angeles law firm Kiesel, Boucher & Larson, which has brought many abuse cases against California dioceses, persuaded a judge in New Mexico to unseal the letters in 2007, according to Helen Zukin, an attorney at the firm.
The attorneys then verified that the documents were authentic during depositions with Fitzgerald’s successor as the Paracletes servant general, the Rev. Joseph McNamara, Zukin said.
Leaders of the Servants of the Paraclete could not be reached for comment Monday.
Fitzgerald set up the Paraclete treatment center in the late 1940s in Jemez Springs, New Mexico, mainly to help clergy struggling with alcoholism and emotional troubles. Soon, bishops began sending him priests who had molested young people or could not keep their celibacy vows.
In a 1957 letter to Bishop Matthew Brady of Manchester, New Hampshire, Fitzgerald wrote that abusive priests only pretended to repent and change “to be again in a position where they can continue their wonted activity.” He said eventually the church would have to establish “a uniform code of discipline and of penalties” to protect the priesthood.
More than four decades later, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops did just that. It created a national discipline and child protection policy after news reports and court files unsealed in 2002 showed that many bishops had moved guilty priests from assignment to assignment without notifying parents or police.
Under the new plan, offenders are barred from church work or ousted from the priesthood altogether. American dioceses have paid more than $2.6 billion in abuse-related costs since 1950, according studies commissioned by the U.S. bishops.
By the 1960s, Fitzgerald was losing control over the direction of the religious order and medical and psychological professionals began working at the center – a change he had resisted. Those experts said some abusers could return to ministry.
The New Mexico treatment center closed in the 1990s in the face of lawsuits over priests who had molested children while staying at the Jemez Springs site or after being treated there.
Fr. Fitzgerald (Servants of the Paraclete founder)
By Jeff | April 26, 2003 9:40 PM
The late Fr. John Hardon, S.J., wrote A Prophet for the Priesthood, a biography of Fr. Gerald Fitzgerald, the founder of the Servants of the Paraclete (referred to in Fr. Mankowski’s post earlier today). The book is available from Eternal Life.
According to this review of the biography, Fr. Fitzgerald believed that “prayer in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament is critical for every priest. Sincere devotion to Our Blessed Lady isnt optional but obligatory. And, priests, deacons, consecrated religious and laity are to have a deep love for the Sacred Humanity of Jesus, which is still very much present in the world today by means of the Most Holy Eucharist.”
Because many bishops relied upon the judgment of the Servants of the Paraclete in dealing with abusive priests, the development of the scandal in the United States will be better understood when the history of the order is written, when it’s better understood how Fr. Fitzgerald’s sensible ideas came to be rejected. A brief history of the order appears on the Servants’ Web site.
(Biography: Father Gerald Fitzgerald)
by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
Father Gerald had a keen awareness, bordering on mystical experience, of Christ’s abiding presence in the Holy Eucharist. When he drafted the Rule of Life for the Paracletes, he directed that they spend, “A personal Holy Hour daily, spent whenever this is possible in a chapel where Our Blessed Lord is present eucharistically. This is your Holy Hour given with Mary to Jesus.” (Paraclete Customs, p. 10).
In his conferences to priests, whether his own Paracletes or others, he returned to the same directive: spend an hour a day before the Blessed Sacrament, besides the Mass and Divine Office. His praise of this practice and the promises he assured those who followed it, were lavish, almost extreme:
- A priest is to have an intense personal love of Our Lord. “Nowhere will that come to you, dear Fathers, so swiftly as in your quiet hours of adoration.” (D-146).
- A priest wants numerous graces from God. “Give God that hour and, if one places one’s soul in the spirit of faith, of profound faith, in the presence of one’s God, you will be surprised, pleasantly surprised, happily inundated by the graces your soul most needs.” (D-146).
- A priest is looking for support in his spiritual life. “If we ourselves can be faithful to a holy hour of prayer, especially a holy hour in the Eucharistic sunshine beneath the face of Christ in the golden Monstrance, and beneath His hidden sorrowful countenance, hidden beneath the veils of the tabernacle, we shall have a perpetual fervor . . . If you are devoted to the Blessed Sacrament, you will never be long tried by dryness or the typical afflictions of spirit.” (D-151).
- A zealous priest must give up many natural pleasures and satisfactions. He therefore looks for supernatural compensation. “In your holy hour you will find the source of this joy. Here are the fountains of the Savior in which we must come to bathe our tired and parched souls and refresh our thirsting hearts.” (D-152).
If the holy hour is so important, it is well to know how to make it, at least to have some framework within which to pray before the Blessed Sacrament.
What Father Gerald recommends is only a suggestion. He recognizes that “as a soul advances in the spiritual life, all formal framework becomes less important.” Still, it is useful for a priest to have some method available, for himself and for others whom he urges to under take this basic Eucharistic devotion.
One method is based on the four word aspiration and prayer, Adoro Te Rex Gloriae, I adore Thee, King of Glory. The idea is to divide one’s holy hour into four quarters: “You spend the first in adoration; you spend the second in thanks; you spend the third quarter in reparation; and finally you spend the last quarter in giving something to God.” (D-152).
Adoration. Every prayerful posture of the soul before God should begin with adoration. In fact every prayer, no matter what other form it may take, is basically a form of adoration.
The soul abases itself before the Divine Majesty and repeats quietly either verbally or in its own depths that offering: ‘Adoro Te – I like the repetition: Adoro Te – adoro Te — devote. I adore You – I adore You – I adore You – with devotion. My God.’ Now if a man has any depths of intellectual concept he does not need to get beyond that word God. My God! Thou Who hast brought me out of nothingness. (D-152-153).
All around us, in the world of nature, are countless reasons for adoration. Or better, all around us the universe of space and time is adoring its Maker.
We see the majesty of the mountains round about us: we have our ear gradually attuned to the harmonies and symphonies that are going around – even down into the insect world. There is the whole voice of nature and it is a harmonious voice: little robins breaking their hearts with joy in the morning and saying thanks to God in the evening when they sing their vespers and compline. The majestic beauty of the moon as it moves – a symbol of the Mother of God, taking its light as Mary takes all from God, taking all its light from the sun – Mary takes her glory from the Son of God – and casting it into the dark; the beauty of the stars set as so many candles upon the altars of the universe. (D-153).
So it is. “All except God’s rational creatures, do adore, according to their nature, even the stars singing in their orbits as they obey with exactitude the law of their Creator.” Sublime thought, but also terrifying, that “All but men and angels, all but fallen men and fallen angels obey the rule of their Creator, the raison d’etre of their being.”
This brings us back to the first purpose of the holy hour, to adore the Divine Majesty. Why should adoration before the Blessed Sacrament be specially commended and, for Father Gerald, be commanded to God’s priests? The reason is not far to seek. It is hidden in the mystery of the Incarnation.
Father tells the priest that, by the power of his ordination, he brings down on earth today the same fullness of the Godhead corporally that came down to Palestine at the dawn of Christianity. This Godhead is therefore present near him, as near as was the Savior to His earthly contemporaries when they heard Him say, “I and the Father are one,” or as was Thomas when he bowed down in adoration before the Risen Savior and acknowledged Him as “My Lord and my God.”
We realize that this great infinite majesty of God has been gathered up and placed in the womb of a Virgin maiden and then by the beautiful, mystical extension of her virginity in fruitfulness of the virgin priest of the Catholic Church and wombed in the golden tabernacle with the very same purpose that God the Creator without whom was made nothing that was made, from the bosom of His Father to the bosom of Mary and now to the bosom of the Church where we by our submission to the discipline of the Church have been privileged to bring forth in the fruitfulness that makes us even more than Joseph fruitful to God the Father in the bringing of His Son into the world: Et Verbum caro factum est et habitavit in nobis – and the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. (D-154).
Recognizing who is present on the altar, the priest responds accordingly, and prays, “I adore Thee.”
Petition. If adoration is the first attitude of a believing soul in the presence of the Word Incarnate, petition is the logical second. As a person realizes whom he is addressing, that it is the Lord of the Universe, here in human form; and he pauses to reflect on his own great misery, almost without reflection he will ask the Savior to give him what he needs. Where to begin? Begin by asking Jesus, Who is God, for His love.
What is the most precious thing that a man can have? To love Jesus. Without any doubt, without any qualification. To love God is God’s greatest gift. As a matter of fact, the man who truly loves God with the proper motive, loves God for Himself, already possesses God and is already sure of heaven. For to love God is heaven – it is to possess heaven by anticipation. And not to love God is the commencement of hell. That is why there is so much unhappiness in the world.
So ask above all for the grace to love God and that will please Our Lord very much. It surprises Him for so many people to come to Him and ask Him so many things. Like the father in a family or a mother – the little ones come in during the day: Mother can I have a cookie – Mother, can I do this, Mother, can I do that? But suppose one little precocious child, very sweet and very thoughtful, didn’t ask anything and the mother or dad said: All the others have asked for something, what do you want? And the little one said: Daddy, I just want to love you – I don’t want anything except your love. Where is the father that would not catch up the little one and hold it tight to his heart? Where is the mother who would not be touched to the depth of her being by her little son or daughter who wanted nothing but to be loved?
This is the better gift, this is the gift that harmonizes with the philosophy and spiritual program of St. Theresa: she was avid and she was asking for the better grace, and the supreme grace is caritas – to love God. “In the bosom of the Church my Mother,” she said, “I will be love.” That is what she aspired to. (D-155, 156).
Passing beyond the petition to love God, who is in the Eucharist as man out of love, priests are encouraged to pray for other priests, especially for those who are spiritually sick.
Father Gerald was always making references to the priest-guests at Via Coeli. He knew how desperately they needed the Eucharistic prayer of their brothers in the priesthood.
It just happens today that we had perhaps a record – the telephone rang more than five times – we have five priests about to come to Via Coeli – and what a sadness, for out of five priests, four of them are coming other than the first time. They are returning defeated, wounded, and we must set to work again. So we need the grace not to be discouraged; we need the grace to go on and on and on; we need the grace to whisper to Our Lord: “Lord, You never were discouraged even though You knew that even up to the Last Supper, Your chosen disciples whom You trained Yourself would still be disputing who was going to be first in the Kingdom.” They would be so slow to understand even in the Resurrection. Does not the dullness of the hearts of His Apostles call forth a cry from the Heart of Jesus? Does He not say: Slow of heart – ought not Christ to have suffered and so enter into His glory?
Or as He upbraided them when He came through the barred doors in His glorified Body, on Easter Sunday and He rebuked them for their tardiness to believe. So we must never be discouraged by human nature. And the only way not to be discouraged by human nature is to look with a very fixed look towards the Divine Master. Remember all the times that He has forgiven us – that He has pardoned us individually and out of the greatness of His patience with us, learn to be patient with these men of God who failed God over and over and over again.
Is it not true that only by great patience that Jesus has conquered in our individual lives? And if we then – if Christ has triumphed in our souls by patience, shall we find a better way to let Christ triumph for us in the souls of others? Then by patience upon patience upon patience – even when it is necessary for us to dismiss someone, let it not be because of our impatience, but because it has become evident that patience towards an individual must be sacrificed for the common advantage of the Community as a whole. Ask for priests who are dying obdurate and are refusing the sacraments, so that they may at the last moment capitulate to God’s grace and be saved. (D-156, 157).
But the prayer should be not only for priests. “Ask for your brothers and sisters in the world, ask for non-Catholics the grace of conversion, ask for dying sinners the grace that they make a little act of faith, perfect charity in their hearts.” Then on a personal note, “Pray for the next one of your dear ones to die. Then when the telegram comes saying that someone has died suddenly, what a consolation. You don’t know who, but you leave it in the hands of God.”
Reparation. The next stage in the holy hour, which may actually pervade the whole sixty minutes, is the practice of reparation.
Preoccupied as he was with the moral failures of priests, Father Gerald specially urged priests (and all the faithful) to offer their prayers and trials for priests.
What reparation (is needed) for the sins of priests. O how precious to Christ is a priest who comes to Him and offers with his bare soul to wipe the terrible spittle and filth that unworthy priests cast each day upon Our Lord. It is true that the physical sufferings of Our Lord are at an end: but the source of those physical and mental anguishes that He bore in the Passion are today and tomorrow and all the tomorrows till the end of time. And it is effectively true that if I make reparation today, Jesus will see that reparation together with Veronica’s reparation as He went the Way of the Cross. I went with the angel of consolation to Gethsemane – I went with Simon of Cyrene and lifted the cross from His aching shoulder – I was in the consolation that His Mother spoke to Him as He passed by – I was in the eyes of John when John lifted his lily face as a chalice to meet the eyes of Divine Love.
Learn the art of reparation and then the very little things that bother you, the little trivia of human limitations around us, the little contradictions and disappointments, can all be gathered up and offered in reparation – they become the myrrh of life. (D-158)
This art of reparation is mainly the practice of resignation. We resign ourselves to the trials and difficulties God sends us, and thereby expiate for the offenses committed against Him. Prayer before the Blessed Sacrament serves the purpose of motivating our wills and prayerfully uniting ourselves with Christ in the Eucharist, whose very presence on earth is a form of reparation.
Love. The final disposition of heart with which to keep the holy hour is affective charity.
In Father Gerald’s vocabulary, gratitude and love are almost the same. We love God because He has so loved us. We thank Him for His goodness to us by our “goodness” to Him, that is by giving Him our hearts.
Speaking to priests bound to a life of celibacy, the exhortations to the love of Christ in the Holy Eucharist take on a special significance. “When you give your love to God you give Him that for which He created your heart: the reason He refused to give that heart up to the daughters of men.” As a priest prays before the tabernacle, he is exercising his liberty in a way that no irrational creature can.
It is true the stars give their light and glory, but they cannot do otherwise. The birds sing their songs, but they cannot do otherwise; the flowers cannot help but be beautiful; the orchards cannot but be fruitful according to a fixed law. But you and I, dear Fathers, we can voluntarily, willingly give something to God. And what can a man give to God that He does not already possess? We can give Him our love. (?-???).
This is consistent with the Church’s traditional understanding of the four ends of the Mass: adoration, petition, reparation and grateful love. Worship of the Holy Eucharist reserved on the altar should take on the same four ends. As a priest gets into the habit of making his daily holy hour, his daily Mass will take on a deeper meaning. It will also gain for him, other priests, and the faithful the graces that the Redeemer intends to confer through the sacrifice-sacrament of the Mass.