Sic fiat voluntas Tua
I was once asked to sing at a large meeting in the Paul VI Audience Hall in the Vatican. At the rehearsals the day before the event, I was seated behind the stage, behind the large sculpture of the risen Christ which provides a backdrop for the papal audiences. The location inspired me to write this song, titled Sic fiat voluntas Tua. I decided to sing it instead of the one I was originally scheduled to perform.
The song is essentially some of my understanding of what priesthood is all about. What I say here is a background to the song which hopefully will make the images more understandable.
Priesthood is fundamentally about service. Service to God and people, to be a sign of the divine and a sign of hope, particularly to those whose spirit is crushed or who feel imprisoned by circumstances in their lives.
As a priest I often find myself involved in the significant moments of people’s lives: the births, the marriages, the deaths, the happy events, the sorrowful ones, the struggles that people go through, the doubts and the discoveries of love, the kindness and the bitterness that can sometimes be part of our existence.
I, too, experience all those things in my own life. People come to me seeking peace or wisdom when I do not always possess them myself. Sometimes they seek answers and I don’t have them. At those times, when I feel empty and filled with nothingness, I can only listen and be with them. Perhaps that is all that God asks. We journey through the mystery of Life but doing it together enables us to have a direction. Our path is determined by a belief in love, by love shared with others.
I have been a priest now for 38 years and during that time I have celebrated Mass more or less every day. Although it is the same format and the words are often the same as the days before, I always find that it is different, always new, always more than I thought. I will never fully understand it.
Frequently when I am saying Mass, whether there are ten people or five hundred, I experience a real sense of standing in the centre of a vast cosmic space filled with people. Those who are beside me are those whom I have been asked to pray for or people I have encountered, alive and dead. It is sometimes hard to know who is Christ and who is me. In a way, I feel like an observer, another participant who is there with him and I feel I am being used by God in a very mysterious way.
I receive an awareness of the Eucharist drawing all of creation together, gathering all those who have ever lived, are living today and all those who will come in the future into what I can only describe as being an eternal moment that crosses all time and space.
Those of us who have been called to be priests are not called so that we can be dressed up in fancy vestments or be the centre of attention. We are not called so that we can be holy and go to heaven or gain some personal satisfaction. What we get, how we are treated, is utterly of no importance. We are called for the sake of the people. It is about God getting to his people. That is all.
Ultimately, I think that being a priest means carrying out God’s will and being an empty vessel which he can use regardless of my faults or failings.
The model of priesthood, then, is Mary, the mother of God. She was empty. She gave the world Christ. She was the handmaid, the servant, who only wanted to do the will of God. She was very much part of the community of believers but not the centre. She was the means by which God entered the world. For that reason I put a few phrases in Latin at the end of the song.
Sic fiat voluntas Tua – means – Let your will be done, said by Mary at the Annunciation when asked by the angel to become the Mother of God. This scene and depictions of the Visitation and the Mary at the foot of the Cross are shown.
The next lines –
Magnificat anima mea Dominum;
et exultavit spiritus meus in Deo saltutari meo.
come from Mary’s song, the Magnificat, where she says:
My soul glorifies the Lord
And my spirit exults in God my saviour.
I hope you enjoy the song.