In his insightful commentary on Matthew Chapter 26, Don Dolindo explores the meaning and significance of Christ's passion and how it relates to the priesthood. As Christians reflect on Jesus’s suffering and death, Don Dolindo’s words offer a profound meditation. He argues that the priest manifests knowledge and love of Christ most fully not through eloquent sermons but through devotion in celebrating the Mass. With the Eucharist commemorating the Last Supper and Christ’s sacrifice at Calvary, Don Dolindo’s excerpt highlights how every ritual and gesture of the Liturgy makes this sacrifice present again. By remaining “distracted around the fire of human things,” priests and believers alike risk denying the Lord and discouraging faith as did Peter on the night Jesus was betrayed. The following passage articulates beautifully how witnessing to faith through solemn reverence for the Passion in the Mass speaks louder than any words:
"The priest preaches much more from the altar than from the pulpit; it is enough for him to celebrate the Mass well to manifest the knowledge he has of Jesus Christ and the love he bears for Him; it is enough for him to perform a single gesture of the Liturgy, done with true and profound spirit of Faith, to ignite in others a fire of living love towards Jesus Christ. But when instead of immersing oneself in the mystery of the Passion that is renewed on the Altar, one remains, like Peter, distracted around the fire of human things, and seeks one's own gain, one practically denies the Lord, souls are driven away from Him, and the wicked are encouraged to persecute Him. The wicked and unbelieving world does not need great sermons today, but great examples of love for Jesus, it does not need great apologetic discussions, but great manifestations of faith and life in the sacrament of the Altar."
"The priest preaches much more from the altar than from the pulpit..." As Christ himself taught, deeds speak louder than words (Matthew 7:15-20). The Mass centers around the altar, where through the priest, Christ renews his ultimate act of love and service in the Eucharist (Luke 22:19-20). More than any homily, the priest's reverence and devotion in following Christ's command and example communicates his faith. "...it is enough for him to celebrate the Mass well to manifest the knowledge he has of Jesus Christ and the love he bears for Him..." By solemnly consecrating the bread and wine, adhering to Christ's command to "do this in memory of me," the priest manifests deeper understanding of Christ than any theological words could convey (Luke 22:19). The profound mystery of transubstantiation also testifies to the unfathomable love of He who is true man and true God, reconciling humanity to the Father even now through this living sacrifice (Hebrews 7:27). "...it is enough for him to perform a single gesture of the Liturgy, done with true and profound spirit of Faith, to ignite in others a fire of living love towards Jesus Christ." Each carefully proscribed action of the Mass has spiritual meaning and power. When performed with faithful intention, even a blessing or the lighting of candles kindles greater devotion in those who witness these rites (Matthew 5:14-16). The priest thus serves as an instrument of God's grace, stirring others to reject sin and live boldly by the light of Christ (Ephesians 5:8-10).
"But when instead of immersing oneself in the mystery of the Passion that is renewed on the Altar, one remains, like Peter, distracted around the fire of human things, and seeks one's own gain..." When priests lose sight of the spiritual reality before them and fail to enter fully into Christ's redemptive sacrifice made present on the altar, they risk falling into the same distraction and abandonment of Jesus that Peter exemplified (Luke 22:54-62). Preoccupation with worldly concerns and selfish ambitions causes them to neglect their sacred duties, like Peter warming himself by the fire as Christ was mocked and beaten. "...one practically denies the Lord, souls are driven away from Him, and the wicked are encouraged to persecute Him." Just as Peter three times denied even knowing Jesus while caught up in preserving his own wellbeing (Luke 22:54-62), priests who focus selfishly on earthly things deny Christ through lack of courageous witness. Their lukewarm faith discourages believers and emboldens those who oppose the Gospel (Revelation 3:15-16). "The unbelieving world does not need great sermons today, but great examples of love for Jesus..." More than eloquent preaching, transforming the hearts of nonbelievers requires tangible witness through acts of sacrificial service after Christ's model (Matthew 20:25-28). "It does not need great apologetic discussions, but great manifestations of faith and life in the sacrament of the Altar." Rational arguments alone do not overcome unbelief; living with conviction the mystery of the Real Presence bears greater witness to the truth of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:1-5). As at the first Eucharist, the Liturgy made present on countless altars remains the most perfect demonstration of faith for all ages.
O Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of our Savior and Mother of the Eucharist, how your heart must have overflowed with joy when you first held the infant Jesus, swaddling His tender body to shelter Him from the cold (Luke 2:7). As you offered your Son in the Temple (Luke 2:22-23), glorious Simeon foretold that a sword would pierce your soul, intimating the agony you would share with Jesus even from those early days (Luke 2:34-35). Dearest Lady, you who know the cost of discipleship, grant us strength to take up our cross daily and follow your Son (Luke 9:23). Like the wedding guests at Cana who ran out of wine, we thirst for the presence of your Son. Intercede for us that His hour may come through every Mass, where His Passion is renewed as a fountain of living water (John 2:3-4). O Tower of David and Comforter of the Afflicted, stand by us as you stood at the foot of Christ’s Cross (John 19:25). May His sacrifice penetrate our hardened hearts. Lead all your children who devotedly pray with you (Acts 1:14) into deeper share of “the breaking of the bread” (Acts 2:42) - the fellowship of the Eucharist. As you remain the Queen arrayed with stars and crowned by your Son’s glory (Revelation 12:1), enkindle our faith to gaze in adoration at so great a sacrament of His love. Teach our priests by your maternal guidance to celebrate every Liturgy immersed in the mystery of Jesus’ Passion, so that their every word and gesture at the Altar may stir the faithful to lives of holiness. Plead for us all, that our hearts may burn within us whenever we receive His Body and Blood, until that day we share in His heavenly wedding feast forever. Amen. You can read this article and other articles on my substack.