I was blessed yesterday to attend the priestly ordination of a friend, a good man whose life is already a great gift to the Church. I’m headed out soon to go to his first Mass (and I went to confession yesterday so I can get the indulgence–ftw).
Throughout the ordination Mass, watching countless young, smiling Arlington priests (and the three added to their number) and reflecting on the gift of the priesthood, I was overwhelmed by gratitude.
I love the priesthood. I love the collar and the service and the sacrifice and the Sacraments and all the blessings the priesthood provides. I seriously get giggly when I meet seminarians–I’m just so excited for them! This year, in an attempt to spread my giddy love of our Fathers, I made seminarian trading cards and handed them out to my students to get them praying for future priests. I’m not kidding–I freaking love priests.
And so, to all priests, I want to say thank you.
Thank you for laying down your lives for Christ and his Church, for giving up your lives to help us get through ours. Thank you for your obedience, for showing us what it means to submit. Thank you for the gift of your celibacy, for giving up wife and children for your Bride the Church and your many children. Thank you for washing our feet, for loving us even when we abuse you. Thank you for coming into the parishes that were “just fine before he came along” and bearing with us.
Thank you for being on call 24 hours a day. Thank you for showing up in the hospital room 20 minutes after he called the parish for prayers. Thank you for talking to her when you found her crying in the back pew instead of just asking her to leave so you could lock up. Thanking you for being at the morgue, the jail, the courthouse, and everywhere we needed you and no other. Thank you for your counsel. Thank you for your silence. Thank you for being there even if we hardly knew you.
Thank you for loving us even when we take you for granted. Thank you for standing outside Mass every Sunday shaking hands with people who don’t bother to learn your name. Thank you for remembering my name. Thank you for caring who I am and what I do. Thank you for smiling when babies scream in Mass. Thank you for laughing and drinking beer and playing golf and just being a man instead of a plaster cast of a priest.
Thank you for loving our children. Thank you for speaking to the first communicants even if you have no idea how to teach seven-year-olds. Thank you for laughing at yourself when that was apparent. Thank you for children’s homilies and skits at Bible school and altar server retreats. Thank you for the example you set to our sons of what it means to follow Christ with abandon. Thank you for making them love the priesthood.
Thank you for refusing to be overcome by the world’s hatred. Thank you for putting your collar back on and standing as a target. Thank you for continuing to love your people even when they began to hate you because of the evil actions of a few who turned their backs on their call.
Thank you for loving youth. Thank you for wearing your roman collar under your tie-dyed youth group t-shirt. Thank you for playing ultimate frisbee in your cassock. Thank you for showing the girls that there are men who will fight to be chaste. Thank you for showing the boys that that’s what it means to be a man. Thank you for the example of a life lived for a purpose.
Thank you for the Sacraments. Oh, thank you, thank you for the Sacraments!
Thank you for confession. Thank you for sitting in an empty confessional for hours hoping someone will walk in to be reunited to God. Thank you for hearing my confession at 7 am because I couldn’t be bothered to make it to church during scheduled confessions. Thank you for listening, for never judging. Thank you for reassuring us that there’s nothing too big for God’s mercy. Thank you for knowing when I was too broken even to say my own penance and for offering to say it for me. Thank you for taking our shameful secrets to your grave. Thank you for hurting with us and hurting for us and wanting us in heaven so badly.
Thank you for saying Mass every day–even when I’m the only one there, day in and day out, for 2 months. Thank you for bringing the Eucharist to the sick. Thank you for exposing the Blessed Sacrament for adoration, even when youth ministers ask you to come do it at midnight. Thank you for the sacrifices you make to bring us the Holy Sacrifice.
Thank you for homilies that make me proud to be a Catholic. Thank you for homilies that remind me that the Mass is about the Eucharist, not the works of man. Thank you for consecrating the Eucharist so reverently that it moves me to tears. Thank you for the intensity of your worship and the love in your eyes when you look at your people and when you look at your God.
Thank you for praying over us and praying with us and praying for us. Thank you for your private faithfulness to prayer, to the Office and the Mass, to your own confessions and rosaries and fasting. Thank you for fighting every day to be men worthy of the call.
Thank you for preaching Christ to us, for bringing Christ to us, for being Christ to us. Thank you for putting out into the deep. Thank you for following him, never knowing where he will lead you. Thank you for teaching us to trust, for teaching us to love, for teaching us to live.
Dear Fathers, I pray for you every day. I am so thankful for your sacrifice and your ministry and your love. Please know that, whatever the world hurls at you, you are loved in return, by your flock and, most importantly, by your Shepherd.
What about you, friends? Any gratitude to add?