This month, the year of the priest comes to an end. For a year, our entire church has reflected on the gift that is holy orders. It’s a big deal, and I had a whole set of ideas ready to share about how priests have impacted my life.
Until Sunday night. This week is the Life Teen Training Convention, when over 500 people come together to pray, praise, and work on making youth ministry great. What’s amazing about this year is that over SEVENTY priests are at the Convention – it’s like a priest bonanza (that’s a real thing I just invented). Everywhere you turn, there are men in black sporting Roman collars…
…and on Sunday, we had Mass. Yes, with seventy priests. So we got to one of my favorite parts of liturgy, when the priest says, “Through Him, with Him, in Him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, Almighty Father forever and ever.” It’s called the ‘Per Ipsum,’ (which is Latin for ‘through Him’) and it can be said or chanted. And I’ll be honest, it’s one of those prayers I always wish I could be praying too.
So at this Mass, when it was time for the Eucharistic prayer, seventy priests came up on the altar to concelebrate. The stage was packed, and it was seriously awesome. And when we got to the Per Ipsum, a choir of priests sang out a beautiful prayer to God.
As I knelt there, I realized I needed to rewrite my blog. Simple memories of priests weren’t going to cut it, because in this moment I saw a whole new part of the priesthood. These priests, all individuals, spoke with one voice; they spoke with the voice of Christ. It visually represented that all priests tie in with the one person of Jesus, no matter where they are from.
Which is really what brings me to the point God put on my heart in Mass – a point about what makes the priesthood so much more than a job or a simple career move. The priesthood is a place where humanity meets the mysterious. This year, Life Teen’s theme is ‘Behold the Mystery,’ and there are a lot of mysteries that can come to mind in the Church. But maybe now, as the year of the priest draws to a close, we can take some time to reflect on what a beautiful mystery it is that God takes humble men and lets them forgive our sins, fill us with the Spirit, and bring us the Body and Blood of Christ.