For the past month or so, the Lord has been placing an extreme gratitude on my heart for our priests. With each Mass I attend, every time I receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, or when I enter a church and pray before the tabernacle, I am just moved with a spirit of thanksgiving.
Some of my most profound times with the Lord have been in the Sacraments. Those times are only made possible because some guy decided to die to himself and give his life completely to the Lord and to the service of the Church – to become a priest.
As I prepare to be a biological father within the next few days, I am just extremely grateful for all the fathers (priests) who have mentored me, prayed for me, and made Christ available to me in the sacraments and in the Word. I am grateful for the priests who have welcomed me into the Church. I am extremely grateful for the priest who has agreed to baptize my unborn child in August. I am also grateful for a priest who drove two hours both ways to hear the confessions of our teens for one hour with only a days notice, and that one priest that I met in college, who when he found out that I had not yet been confirmed invited me to RCIA. My conversion took place on the day of my confirmation, but it doesn’t stop there.
My appreciation for priests first developed about 9 years ago in New York City when my family and I went to my cousin’s funeral. Due to poor planning, when we arrived at the address for the funeral Mass, it was not a Church but a funeral home, and the parish priest had never been informed of the death so he wasn’t there. My mom and I walked to a parish down the street, found a priest and explained the situation to him. He immediately grabbed his vestments came to the funeral home prayed with us and held a service. That moment later lead to my father’s conversion to the Catholic Church.
To those men who have given up their lives in order to build the kingdom of God here on Earth: thank you. Thank you for the Eucharist, thank you for the countless times you have heard my confessions and still loved me through absolution, thank you for witnessing as the Lord united my beautiful wife and I through Holy Matrimony, and thank you for not only wearing that Roman collar, but living it as well. God bless you, and know that I will be praying for you.
And for the rest of us, let’s pray for our priests because without them, our beautiful Catholic faith would not be possible.
“Without the priest, the passion and death of our Lord would be of no avail. It is the priest who continues the work of redemption on earth.” St. John Vianney