Each day brings something new to my priesthood. I was ordained one month ago yesterday so I consider my explanation of this life so far vastly inadequate. However, even this short time has taught me a few lessons: priesthood is victimhood, and a priest is a priest for others.
This is the third in a series that was supposed to be 3 – I guess it’s going to be 4. I couldn’t fit being a priest and ordination into one post. This week I’ll cover being a priest and I’ll conclude next week with my experience of ordination. The goal is to explain this life from the inside to help those working with teens who aren’t priests or religious. (The other 2: Vocations Come from Love and A Religious in a Secular Society.)
A priest is another Christ. Fulton J. Sheen points out that this means he’s another victim. Living as a priest means a life sacrificing for others.
I want to finish my meditation but someone needs confession so I leave my dialogue with Christ so someone else can dialogue with Jesus through me. I celebrate the mass but I say “this is the chalice of my blood … which will be poured out for you.” And it is poured out for others. I haven’t had to do sick calls yet but I can just imagine that sacrifice for others.
Mother Teresa told her nuns to led others eat them up yet so often we priests are even more eaten than those holy nuns. When I celebrated mass for them, they all wanted my blessing and to kiss my hands afterwards; they all wanted to eat me up.
Being in my home town – which was not expected considering I’m in a missionary congregation – gives me ZERO privacy. I pop my head into a room to say hello to 4 people, and a week later someone on the other side of town mentions it. That’s a sacrifice. Even though I’m fairly open on social media, I can control that and not mention everything. Life doesn’t give me that freedom. You might say, many others lack privacy; true but as a priest I’m expected to be an example for all.
Being a priest is everything but at the same time it is nothing. I recently visited Sacred Heart Apostolic School (one of the few high school seminaries in North America) and I had to preach on St John the Baptist: the idea came to me that St John the Baptist is a model for us because he shows us that a vocation is not for yourself but for another, for others. John’s whole vocation only makes sense in the light of Christ, likewise, the priesthood only makes sense in Jesus’ life.
St John Vianney notes that a priest only performs sacraments for others. He cannot absolve himself. His whole life is giving himself to others. So often people think a priest gives up love but because every moment is giving himself to others, he lives love to the full.