The Priesthood and the Choice

Vatican Ordination

I heard an excellent homily last week, delivered by a young priest who spoke with passion and energy. It was clearly his own take on how the Gospel reading for this daily Mass spoke to him. He crafted it to offer lessons to us. It was beautiful, but that wasn’t what struck me. What moved me most this day was the very existence of this man and his vocation. I had a sudden and overwhelming sense of gratitude.

I’ll try to explain why.

There were only about ten of us in attendance. He crafted that homily for us. It required that he read ahead of time and think hard. He had clearly done some additional reading on the topic. He probably spent some time in prayer. Then he delivered it and could only hope that people would listen and learn from what he said. He does this every single day. And he will do this the whole of his life.

I have some sense that people take this skill for granted. For my part, I marvel at it. If someone asked me to stand up and say something intelligent about the day’s readings, I would sweat it out and probably flop. Most people would. And yet we somehow assume that the talent to do this is built into the genetic code of a priest—and if he ever fails, he will certainly hear about it.

Not only that, everyone in the parish assumes that the priest should be there at every instant to serve us in every conceivable way—on our terms. Maybe we will be faithful or maybe not. Maybe we will lean on the priest only in hard times, or in big ceremonial occasions like weddings and baptisms but otherwise pay no attention whatsoever.

We are happy to lose interest in the Catholic faith for months, years, or decades. This is a luxury afforded to the laity. But we believe that when we are ready, the priest will be there with all the answers, with a forgiving heart, and welcoming arms. He will hear our confession, happily, and rejoice in our return. He will baptize our children, marry them later, and be there when our lives have fallen apart. We can lose the faith at will; he, on the other hand, must never waver, else we will be scandalized and cry hypocrisy.

He is a servant to a much greater extent than other callings. He is called upon to understand—and fully explain and even solve—our troubles, issues, difficulties, struggles, failings, sins, and to comprehend and care about the endless details of our lives, to the precise extent to which we share them and call upon his intervention. In the confessional, he is (contrary to myth) not a judge but a dispenser of the grace of God’s forgiveness and comforting love.

Meanwhile, no one really ever asks us to understand his failings. Far from it: we imagine ourselves in the position of being his judge, never dispensing forgiveness but more commonly suspicion, detraction, and calumny. Catholics themselves are severe enough in this respect, but the rest of the world is ever more disapproving of the priesthood itself. His very existence is a provocation to debate every issue from the existence of God to the meaning of life. He is a lightening rod and yet must act nonchalant about this fact, going about his business as if to ignore the suspicions and doubts all around him.

A quick anecdote along these lines: I was in Rome a few months ago and met some high Church officials, and was pleased to take photographs with them. I posted them publicly and was happy and honored to do so. But of course I braced myself for the fallout from here and yon.

Sure enough, I was bombarded with commentary that ranged from skepticism to outrage, and some of it is truly unprintable. I don’t blame people who speak so bluntly about their feelings about the Catholic Church and its leaders; their feelings are authentic, however misinformed and unbalanced. What strikes me is: what other vocation in life calls forth such fundamentally violent opposition? And yet the calling to the priesthood, in the end, is about serving even those who hate the faith.

This is a cross every priest must bear. Of course if the priest were only a social worker, the antagonism would be far less pronounced. What’s controversial is that he serves in the person of Christ himself to confect and distribute the very means of grace, that is, to participate in his very personhood in Christ’s own sacrifice for the salvation of the world. This is an awe-inspiring choice, one that serves as a constant witness to a faithless world of the truth of the faith.

Consider the decision to become a priest in light of the current cultural moment. It is a startling and radical decision, one that results from an internal calling. It has to. I once prayed for that calling myself as a young man. It never came. I remember a feeling of disappointment that I would never become a member of the priesthood but it was for the best. My life as a professional editor and writer has its own rewards of a different sort.

Still, I think about the life of the priest and how remarkably and blessedly detached it is from the material and professional machinery that drives so much of the rest of the secular world.

There was perhaps a time in the Middle Ages when to be a priest was culturally and professionally advantageous, a better path toward security and health, a means to break through the barriers of a rigid class structure, a path toward literacy. You would have more options in the priesthood than out.

Today, none of this is true. If anything, the choice of the priesthood represents a radical restraining of one’s range of life choices. In every way, you are marked for life, every hour of every day is turned over to a purpose defined by the vocation itself.

It is an ominous choice but one that is liberating for those who are called. What sort of liberation? What are they freed from? The men I know in professional life with me are consumed by anxieties. We struggle constantly to stay valuable as workers and professionals. We fear falling back. We fear failure—and, even more so, fear the judgment of others about our failing.

All of us in the secular professional world are in a constant race. We race against technology that can do what we do better than our limited talents and minds. We look at younger people and see them as smarter and more suited to our jobs than we are. We wonder about our future and whether there really will be any rest for us as we approach our final years.

We feel a burning sense of ambition and strategize on how to make that matter. The time trade offs between work and family, career and leisure, are a pressing concern every day. The goal is always more, whether that means a higher position, a higher value, or more money, and never less. We like to think that our work is all about the desire for true success but in our hearts we know what is really behind it all: the fear of failure. It is fear above all else that consumes men in our time.

And yet to serve in the position of Christ himself is to embrace failure as the world understands that term. The world thought that Christ came to be a ruler, a king of the world. This he did not do. He was killed in defeat on the cross and his followers left him in disappointment and devastation. In resurrection, he then revealed an unexpected victory over death itself.

And so too with priests, who have rejected every definition of success that the world has to offer, and yet find a victory in a path that the culture and social order least expects: the service of Christ, his Church, and others. There are easier ways, more mainstream choices, smoother paths. But these men of courage have embraced the way of the Cross.

Priests have their own struggles and frustrations—and they could be just as intense as those faced by men in secular professions. And yet I look at the choice they have made and see something truly spectacular. They have chosen to reject fear as a motivating force in life. It’s as though they looked at fear and stood up to it with courage and uncommon conviction. They saw that a life of pure material ambition and material satiation, one that chases something that is ultimately unattainable in this life, is not a life of true meaning.

What an extraordinary act of courage to become a priest! It means embracing to the fullest extent the very thing that the world today completely rejects: the possibility for holiness to exist in any form. I don’t mean just the possibility that a person can become holy. Priests have the same moral struggles as anyone else. There are saints and sinners among them. What I mean is that the priesthood means giving up one’s own self to become an instrument for emergence of holy things inside of this world, and allowing one’s own self to become a vehicle through which the salvation of souls is made possible.

That act alone is one of incredible faith. It cuts across the grain of everything the world thinks it knows about the meaning of life. In effect, the world today thinks it knows that life has no meaning. We live in practical nihilism. We have come to avoid things like truth claims, but, in so doing, we end up turning our eyes away from anything that even explores the notion of truth. Without any notion of truth, we lose the capacity to recognize evil and vice, as well as their opposite in goodness and virtue. The possibility of sanctity vanishes.

A priest, then, is not just speaking the unspeakable, not just drawing attention to the very subject that everyone else seems to want to avoid; he has dedicated the whole of his life and being to the proposition that we can experience and even attain sanctity. There is such a thing as something holy and set apart. There is a reality outside of time. There is eternal life. There is a means to attain it. These are radical claims that contradict every intellectual trend of the last 200-plus years. And yet the men of faith who dedicate their lives to drawing attention to holiness persist and, in so many ways, sustain our highest aspirations as human beings created in the image and likeness of God who never stops calling us home.

Despite all that has happened over the last ten years in Catholic life—and it has been a difficult decade—all data indicate something completely surprising. Vocations to the priesthood are up. Mass attendance is up. Who could have predicted this? There is something wonderfully implausible about the priesthood, something radical and even revolutionary. God bless the men who follow their calling to lead us all to something higher and more spectacular than the rest of the world can offer.

Jeffrey Tucker

By

Jeffrey Tucker is managing editor of Sacred Music and publications editor of the Church Music Association of America. He writes a bi-weekly column on sacred music and liturgy for Crisis Magazine and also runs the Chant Cafe Blog. Jeffrey@chantcafe.com

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  • PiusFan

    Overall, a well done and impressive article.

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  • Bill

    You may not have had a calling to the priesthood, however the calling you did receive is a magnificent and needed vocation to the Church.

  • Jeanne Marie Booth

    On this feast day of The Most Holy Name of Mary, I must say this is most beautiful.
    I would even go so far as to say that within this article you have captured the movement profound in Musica Sacra. Your calling and consequent response of Our Mother’s “Fiat” bears great fruit..Deo gratias!

  • judystefencavage

    Beautifully written, one of the best descriptions of being a priest I have ever read!

  • maranathangel

    Thank you for such a beautiful article.

  • Jean-Francois Desmarais

    I just wished there would be a sharing about what was said in the homily!.

  • Steve Culy

    I share your marvel at the Priesthood, it seems such a compelling and attractive vocation! May God Bless all our priests!!

  • Voyages of Revelation

    Truly wonderful and inspiring! May I take the liberty of repeating an earlier comment – “Beautifully written; one of the best descriptions of being a priest I have ever read!”

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  • A Priest

    Thank you very much for this. As a priest experiencing calumny and detraction from a few of his parishioners right now, I appreciate very much what you have written. Sometimes all you can give just isn’t enough to keep people happy.

    • http://renewthechurch.wordpress.com/ Thomas R

      Be encouraged in your priesthood with the example of Jesus. Only He can bring the happiness that people are made for. You can offer Him to the people, but only they can receive Him in faith, and that, only with grace. I think the Lord is calling us to a much deeper life of prayer.

      • whw

        Amen. I pray that Father God will encourage you today, and let you know how precious you are to Him, and encourage you in your work, and glorify Himself through you.

    • John200

      Sometimes calumny and detraction are the result of a person(s) trying to project their own guilt onto you. To achieve this end, they need you to let them. But then you might be complicit in their sin.

      Many people are unhappy. Oh well, just keep us on the path to heaven.

      Just a thought.

    • Diane Sliger

      THEN RETREAT AND READ YOUR HOMILY FROM A SCRIPT LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE.

    • http://rosarynovice.stblogs.com/ Augustine

      “Remember the word I spoke to you, ‘No slave is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” (Jn 15:20)

      I believe that though in some places in the world becoming a priest does advance one’s status, as in some African countries, in the West it’s pretty much signing up for at least white martyrdom. It’s not easy to go through it though, especially because we’re not worthy of it.

      Didn’t pope emeritus BXVI say that if he didn’t read something against him in the paper he wouldn’t be doing his job, afflicting the comfort of the ways of the world?

      Hang in there, padre. The Master hanged there for you.

    • John Sposato

      I apologize for them, if that is possible. Indeed, Father, please know that, while I have had critical thoughts about priests from time to time, I love you priests and the priesthood, which Christ ordained. Most of us who are Catholic really do, but we love to whine and complain too much. Be at peace, and know that the world will hate you because you are not of the world. Rejoice, in fact, when the world reviles and hates you because of Christ’s name, for your reward in heaven will be great.

    • I_M_Forman

      Stick with it Father. Even Sts. Peter & Paul got grief. Remember, you’re not of this world; that’s why your here! Being at war with the Devil is never easy – he uses every unfair means he can by alarming even people near you to turn them against you. This is what you were built for – to beat him on his own ground!

    • John Radice

      That is so distressing to hear. I’m about to pray for you right now

    • Connie Woods

      Keep speaking the truth and thank you. Jesus let them walk away when they did not accept his teaching on the Eucharist. What I don’t understand are priests who cave in to parishioners’ demands not to talk about abortion, same-sex unions, etc. Thank you for being true to Christ, and we know in theory that priests are configured to Christ, ontologically changed, but how can we ever really understand that in reality? I am so grateful that we have priests as Christ among us, even if we do not understand. It’s another veil. God bless, Connie

    • WSquared

      Father, I am so sorry to hear what you’re going through. I am also sorry to hear that some people don’t think that all you can give isn’t enough to keep them happy– I guess we can see shades of “if you are truly the Son of God, come down from the Cross…,” not to mention “blessed are you when wicked men insult and hate you for My sake.”

      A good deal of trouble stems from the fact that we forget what belief in the Incarnation means. Therefore, we either forget that priests are men who hold the gift of sharing in Christ’s priesthood in earthen vessels, or if they somehow fall short of *our* standards (whatever they are), we think that they’re only men, and that there’s nothing divine about the priesthood. We forget that being “set apart” for something does not mean anything as petty as “power” or whatnot, but being given this particular gift for this particular purpose, and we often forget that “admonishing sinners” or “fraternal correction” is not for tearing anyone down, but to build them up; to encourage them to better live what they have been given.

      God bless you, and thank you for saying “yes” to the Lord, Father. Thank you for saying “yes” to becoming one of His priests. Thank you for saying “yes” so we can have Jesus.

    • Nancy

      A priest is in perona Christ. That means it’s the priest’s vocation to be crucified. This is why those happy-clappy, glamorized vocational marketing efforts are such a lie. First, they don’t tell the truth about the lived reality of the priesthood, and secondly, they don’t tell the truth about what the priest should expect. If you read Pope Benedict, he alluded to this often, almost unfailingly in his talks to priests and seminarians: you will be crucified.

    • Frado

      Dear Father,

      Don’t doubt yourself, there are many a sheep out there that you will never satisfy. There are many that you will not be able to reason with, because they are unreasonable.
      Our Lord’s Apostles had to endure many hardships, just as His Shepherds do today. Continue to do Our Lord’s work, led by His Holy Spirit, and you will never fail…

      Blessings

  • Jeros Amparo

    muy bien.

  • NewCatholic08

    To all our priests, Thank You! You are in our family prayers daily. God bless.

  • jack

    Thank you for the kind words, Jeffrey. As a priest of 35 years, your words are words of encouragement for me and my brothers.

  • geni

    Would a priest present his list of sins to a woman, prior to going to confession to a priest ?
    …like a pre-confession , just to see how pertinent is the feminine point of view regarding male sins.

    • Rev. Mark

      No. Only a priest can understand the life, the sins, and the victories over personal sins of another priest.

  • Tomas

    Thank you Jeffrey. As a seminarian it means a lot to hear words like these.

  • heretheycomeagain

    What you have to say about the vocation of a priest certainly has merit, although I seriously question your suggestion that vocations and Mass attendance are up. Up from when? Last year? And if so, by how much? A more revealing statistic would be to compare today in those two areas with those of the early 1960’s. It is that comparison that will reveal what is actually going on in the Church. And if you think its on the rise, you are simply fooling yourself.

    But back on the priests, while I’m inclined to believe that absolutely no serious Catholic would quibble with the challenges that are facing a priest today, the Church has turned a blind eye toward the world that we live in. And when I say the “Church”, I am really talking about the bishops. Read todays news and see what is of concern to the bishops of America. Is it the fact that men and women are living together without the benefit of marriage? Is it the fact that it is the rare family that has more than one or two children and that artificial birth control is accepted practice? Is it the societal acceptance of homosexual behavior as being normal? Of course not. Not only does the USCCB not say a word about these topics, neither do the individual bishops. The great concern is “immigration reform”, “feeding the poor” and even “climate change legislation”.

    And the priests you talk about say nothing as well. Of course they’re all but told not to do so by the bishops. They’re encouraged, instead, to avoid the controversial topics mentioned above, as well as a host of many other similar subjects that most Catholics have long ago all but abandoned––even those that still go to Mass on Sunday. Shouldn’t the recent Pew Research poll indicating that more than half of those Catholics who actually still attend Mass fairly regularly do not believe in the Real Presence be of great concern to our priests and bishops?

    Your focus on the the incredible love that a man must have for Jesus Christ to be willing to give their entire life to Him for the singular purpose of bringing souls to salvation by becoming a priest is not doubted. But where will those priests be 10-15 years from now? How long will it take the modernist bishops to mould these holy men into precisely what the bishops are today?

    • http://renewthechurch.wordpress.com/ Thomas R

      “How long will it take the modernist bishops to mould these holy men into precisely what the bishops are today?” – About as long as the men want it to take. Everyone when he is fully taught, will be like his teacher. Every Catholic must be a disciple – a learner, a follower – of Jesus our Lord. I’m sure it is a temptation for priests, to be a careerist among careerists and a clericalist among the clericalists both in the clergy and the laity. To be a servant of all, carrying the cross every day, seeking not the approval or praise of men but seeking only the praise of God – now that is a vocation needing more attention!

      • heretheycomeagain

        Yes, I agree. And as we had read yesterday in the Gospel which you accurately recited; “when fully taught, every disciple will be like his teacher”. And that, it seems, is the problem. The teachers are teaching modernism. Only those priests who are willing to accept modernist teachings will be identified as future bishop material. And those priests that insist on clinging to the traditional teachings of the Catholic Church (old fashioned ideas like there is only one Church, the Roman Catholic Church, and that all other religions are false teachings), will be shunted to the side. They will not be selected to lead anyone or anything. Even faithful Catholics are taught by the bishops pastors and loyal priests that the modernist way is the right way, and that all who refuse to follow are “clinging to old fashioned ideas”.

        And if one thinks for a moment that things will eventually just magically turn around, they are sadly mistaken. The bishops of the Church have the secular press on their side. The press heaps great praise on bishops who embrace modernist teachings and derision on those who are faithful to the true teachings of the Catholic Church. And while the Second Vatican Council is often unfairly criticized as being the cause of the all the problems, in truth, it was the heresy of modernism that was born years before the Council was even suggested in 1959 by Pope John XXIII. But by advancing the “new theology” that gave us ecumenism and a modern definition of religious liberty, to name just two great errors of the Council, the Church started down the humanist path that we are on today. That path, it cannot be denied, is the source of most of the problems being experienced in the Church today.

        Pope Pius X required that all seminarians take and keep the oath against modernism. That oath has been long abandoned and the smoke of satan has crept into the Vatican and the seminaries since that time. But will all priests fall prey to the traps being laid for them as they struggle to fulfill their mission of bringing souls to salvation? Absolutely not. But many will. For that reason I respectfully disagree with a philosophy that suggests that the individual priest will lift himself up by his own bootstraps and resist the temptation to rise up in the ranks of the Church. The fault lies with the bishops. And it will only be when one bishop, and it will only take one, has the courage to take the bold step of completely rejecting modernism and demand, with boldness, that all of his priests teach all of the teachings of the true Catholic faith will we see meaningful change.

        • SHARON

          WONDERFUL PAPER WITH GREAT PERSPECTIVE AND TRUTH.

  • Diane Sliger

    I DIDN’T EVEN READ IT. IT WAS OBVIOUSLY MISINFORMED. THE CATHOLIC BISSHOPS DON’T WANT YOUNG PRIESTS TO STAND OUT FROM THE CROWD AS YOU MENTIONED. RATHER, THEY WANT ALL PRIESTS TO FOLLOW THE SHPHERD, HIM.

  • Jacqueline Craney

    Thank you , Jeffrey. This made me call to mind all of the priests I have been privileged to know, and reminded me to thank God every day for their “Yes!” to God’s call. As you say, there are sinners and saints among them, but we are blessed by them all.

  • Mark DSouza

    Articles like these will encourage our young men and women to join priestly and religious lives. Thank you very much for such an inspirational and honest article.

  • http://www.facebook.com/glenna.bradshaw.5 Glenna Bradshaw

    As the mother & sister of priests who love the Church, thank you! I often think that the acrid venom that comes from people (Catholics & non & “I attended Catholic schools”) says much more about the hate inside themselves than about their target which is usually the priest or “the bishops.”

  • Anarcho-Papist

    “I don’t blame people who speak so bluntly about their feelings about the Catholic Church and its leaders; their feelings are authentic, however misinformed and unbalanced.”

    I do blame them. Yes, every religious group should be fair game in the marketplace of ideas, but the Catholic-bashers have mainstreamed mind-boggling double standards. They’ll treat every other religious group with even-handedness, even sensitivity and understanding. The Church and her followers, on the other hand, they defame without qualms.

    http://www.thornwalker.com/ditch/pivetta_cow_the_catholics.htm

  • AcceptingReality

    The decision to become a priest IS radical and courageous. And thankfully that decision is still made by some of us. Good article. Begs the question, “Can we help bring the best out in our priests by encouraging them in their vocations?” Probably can.

  • Kevin Aldrich

    Here is a link to a Year of Faith blog designed to help priests deliver more homilies like the one praised in this OP. Good bless our priests!

    http://www.doctrinalhomilyoutlines.com/

  • David M Paggi

    Marvellously penetrating reflection on the cross of the priesthood – and how we benefit so greatly from it while taking it for granted. Our priests are not only on the front line of the battle, they are constantly treating the wounded as well. They deserve and need our prayer.

    May I suggest one habit to cultivate? When the opportunity arises, thank a priest for his ministry. A really appropriate time is when leaving the confessional, an exercise that should fill one’s heart with profound gratitude.

    • JohnnyCuredents

      I thought this was a given for everyone, the thank-you after confession; that’s the very least we can do. Does anyone think it is pleasant sitting there listening to all that? We have one priest for three churches at our parish and he hears confessions twice a week and, beyond those sessions, any time someone makes an appointment. He’s tired, overworked, and in poor health (mostly because he grabs a bite to eat on the run!), but he keeps on plugging always with a smile on his face and a friendly greeting for everyone. If you don’t love someone like him, you simply have no heart.

      • David M Paggi

        Certainly! However, what I am suggesting goes beyond this. We should make it a point to thank him for his all of his priestly ministry, not just for the confession he just heard (or some other benefit we have received). Our gratitude should be so great that we seize every appropriate opportunity to thank the priests we encounter, especially when they least expect it.

  • profling

    For all his training, the modern priest appears to do very little. He uses no Latin, does almost no reading at mass, exhibits little liturgical competence or even interest, and is probably not a person to ask about a difficult point of theology. I think the Vatican II priest could get by with less than a year of seminary for what he is expected to do. By the way, does he recite the breviary any more, or is that just optional now?

    • Kalynne Pudner

      He does pray the breviary, on our behalf — mine and yours — for our benefit and in reparation for our breaches of charity. And he still stands in persona Christi , however little that may appear to us.

    • julia

      You may be right in some instances; though I know quite a few priests who speak Latin. Regardless, it is a mistake to think that the liturgy is all priests do. I work in a parish and people are in and out all the time. One minute our pastor is preping a couple for marriage, the next he’s consoling a grieving family, then meeting with the parish administrator, then helping someone find healing from an abusive relationship, then dealing with personnel issues and then spending the rest of the afternoon making house calls and hospital visits to administer the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick until he returns in the evening to meet with which ever ministry is meeting that night. Priests do so much more than preside at liturgies, they need to be counselors, CEOs, CFOs, grief support specialists, human resources agents, canon lawyers, confessors, pastors and friends to everyone everyday. It is exhausting and spiritually challenging.

  • guest

    I mostly agree with this. It is so encouraging. Most priests are super wonderful in being true to their calling. Thank you for sharing these important thoughts. I hope lots of priests read this and are blessed by it. They need all the support they can get these days!!!

  • TeaPot562

    Pastors take a lot of criticism any time they have to make decisions about limited resources. Example: a small church in a Hispanic neighborhood preceded construction of our larger parish church. The smaller church was closed for a few years, then on petition of a few was reopened.
    With the reduced number of priests in our diocese, our parish staff was reduced from three priests to two. The smaller church had a Sunday attendance much smaller than the larger church, less than one-half mile distant. Our pastor after due consideration decided to close the smaller church and add a Spanish language mass to the larger church’s schedule.
    The number of poison-pen letters sent to the rectory and the local newspapers, especially the area weekly, was incredible! And they persisted for several years!
    Pray for our priests. Many of them suffer from misunderstanding of their burdens.
    TeaPot562

  • Romans 12:12

    I thank God for all priests- without you all, we would not receive his Holy Precious Body and Blood- may our Blessed Mother always comfort you in your trials and difficult moments and may we, Catholics be kinder to you all. Amen.

  • Minh

    Really nice article, so much truth and motivation! God bless our priests!

  • http://www.acts24.com/blog Father Jacob Maurer

    Thanks for the great reflection and encouraging words of support. It’s a real blessing to have them, and to hear confirmation of the signs of life in our parishes & the Church as a whole!

  • Elleblue Jones

    I volunteered in our parish rectory twice a week for a couple of years and I’ve seen our priest leave his meals to go to the bedside of someone who is seriously ill or dying. He takes calls day and night, no matter how inconvenient. Most of this kind of dedication and commitment is taken for granted by the people in the pews. These are the same people who are putting sports and music lessons ahead of Catechism classes for their children. Then they have the nerve to blame the Church because their kids are not enthused about attending mass.
    You have my thanks for this article as it speaks to the lack of self that priests demonstrate in their daily lives and I’m most grateful to God that young men continue this selfless tradition.

  • DesertPriest

    Brilliant reflection. I sent it on to our bishop, vocation director and vicar for clergy in advance of our priest convocation this week.

  • I_M_Forman

    Excellent! Well done!

  • Basil Damukaitis

    After several days of putting it off, I finally got around to reading this article. You have written a very accurate assessment. I remember talking to a priest ordained about 10 years and we got to talking about a certain priest of “that generation” in his sixties, part of the rebellion etc… and still so. But he said something that struck me. He noted that despite all the social upheaval and all the difficult times, he may be a thorn in the cardinal’s side at times, but he’s still a priest, he didn’t leave, he’s been faithful and how many can say that about their vocation, their career, their job?

    I would also add as one who has several priest friends, they do so much more than people see. One friend, who has only his priest salary and stipends, has paid for two Catholic high school tuitions. They are children of a seminary classmate who left the seminary and married, works two jobs, but still couldn’t afford the tuition. So he anonymously paid their tuition and gave up many of the niceties his classmates are accruing. He is one of several examples. They’re an incredible group of men.

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  • http://22Catholic.com/ Matthew P. Schneider, LC

    Thank you for the encouragement. Please pray for me as I’ll be ordained a priest on December 14th.

    • slainte

      Congratulations Father, may God bless you with His wisdom and love as you undertake to do His work on earth.
      Thank you for saying Yes to your vocation.

  • A Filipino priest

    thank you for this article…

  • Discerning the Call

    Thank you for this beautifully written article! I am in the midst of discerning a Vocation to the Priesthood, and this article has in some way given me the courage to continue with that discernment. Thank you!

    • CC-seminarian

      As a current seminarian (with the Companions of the Cross), I am thrilled to see how this beautiful article was able to touch your heart.

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  • YoungDiscerner

    A brilliant article, thank you! As a teenage boy trying to discern his vocation, it is articles like this that give me courage and strength to continue down the path that I am almost certain God has intended for me.

    • CC-seminarian

      As a current seminarian (with the Companions of the Cross), I am thrilled to see how this amazing article was able to inspire you.

  • Michael

    Very good article. But I’m not sure about the last paragraph. Vocations to the priesthood are rising and Mass attendance is going up? Do you have statistics for this? I’m pretty sure the opposite is true…

  • Brendan Gallagher

    Thanks for you’r breakdown on the lives of our priests /I agree with all you say on this matter GOD BLESS

  • Liz

    This is excellent an excellent article, with so many good reminders. Our priests suffer and we need to pray for them. Thank you for writing this thought-provoking piece. God bless you!

  • Katie

    I love this. What a great presentation of the vocation to the priesthood. Have any of you seen the new TV show that’s online called “Ordinary”? It is SO GOOD. It shows the priest as a human being, along with showing other things happening around a parish like RCIA. It is NOT your typical pandering stuff of most Catholic productions. Their website is keyrowpictures.com and they have a facebook page too.

  • Mom

    Thank you for this uplifting piece. As the mother of a Jesuit, I worry about many of the areas you covered in the article. You very eloquently addressed the Catholic “beliefs” or attitudes in today’s society, not only towards priests but to practicing Catholics as well. The perspective of what it takes to be a priest is humbling.

  • Carolyn Schuster

    LOVE this article. My priest delivered such a great sermon this last Sunday talking about the Priesthood and the power of the vocation. After leaving the church and wandering about in the protestant churches, my return has offered such clarity i am blown away by the power and authority the Priest has. He stretches his arms out on his cross and raises up the church our mighty Savior has entrusted to him. Pray for our Priests!

  • selwyn francis

    Thanks Jeffrey i am a priest serving 4 diverse communities. This is very demanding and i feel many a time as if my whole life blood is being sucked/drained out of me yet i move forwards sometimes with a lot of questions going through my mind but i refuse to give up i love what i’m doing and enjoy what i’m doing and i am happy doing what i’m doing despite some of the negative things you mentioned we priests must endure. thank you very much for this encouraging article it really inspires a man that there are people who see the bigger picture as far as the life of a priest is concerned.

    • slainte

      Father, thank you for accepting your vocation to love and serve God and for gifting me as a Catholic with your selfless efforts. I am grateful to you for consecrating the bread and wine and making Christ available to me in the Eucharist, for hearing my confession; for taking on the burden of my sins in your role as Alter Christus, and for giving me Christ’s absolution. I am grateful for your presence at my wedding, and for baptizing my baby, and when you come in the middle of the night to visit my relative who may be near death. For all these things and more, be assured I will pray for you and your brother priests that you will continue to experience joy in your vocation, much laughter in life’s journey, and Our Lord’s blessings upon your every endeavor. Pax Christi.

      • selwyn francis

        thank you so much slainte, stay well and may God continue to Bless you abundantly.

  • christine

    Thank you for this wonderful well-written piece. It is certainly not easy to be a priest. It has helped me appreciate what my cousin (ordained 01/08/2013) & other priests have done & I will continue to uplift all priests and other religious orders. God Bless.

  • Taso

    Thanks so much Jeffrey – this is a fantastic, and inspiring article.

  • Newly-Ordained

    Thank you for this article, Jeffrey — as a newly ordained Priest who is a little bit overwhelmed by this “brave new world” of budgets, schedules, building campaigns, and crises, I needed this word of encouragement to re-center myself on the important things. God bless you!

    • Gwen of Cana Candles

      To Newly-ordained, remember that you will have qualified accountants, project managers and many others in your parish – they only have one person to baptise them (except in emergencies) to bring the Eucharist to them, to absolve them of their sins and to annoint them at death and that person is you. Bless you in your ministry

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