A dear young man, whom our family met a few years ago, will be ordained a priest here in the Diocese of Albany on Saturday. Although we can't get to his ordination because of previous commitments, we will travel to his home parish on Sunday so that we can be there when he celebrates his first Mass. James spent his pastoral year in our parish and returned periodically after that to help out when he was home from seminary. He is the kind of young man who gives me hope for the future of our Church. I see him and think how blessed we are to have men like him willing to make huge sacrifices to follow a calling and serve the rest of us.
Sometimes, as we go about our Catholic lives, I think it becomes easy to lose sight of those sacrifices that every priest has made, of the often challenging lives they lead juggling the administrative duties of a parish with the spiritual needs of its people. I know how difficult it is here at home to maintain that careful balance between work and parenting, spiritual and secular, household business and family togetherness. I imagine it's similar for a parish priest trying to be all things to all people.
I have often wondered what it must be like to be able to celebrate Mass, hear confessions, baptize babies, anoint the dying. How do priests keep those powerful experiences from becoming rote with time and repetition? How do they keep from getting distracted when they are saying Mass after Mass, day after day? How are they changed by the ways they enter into people's lives at the most critical moments?
Jesuit Father James Martin, associate editor of America magazine and author of numerous books, among them My Life with the Saints, has posted a beautiful reflection on his ten years as a priest, answering some of those very questions and offering us an inside look at what he loves most about his vocation.
Head over to America's blog, In All Things, by clicking HERE to read Father Martin's post, "Why I like being a priest." And let us remember Father Martin in prayer as he celebrates the anniversary of his ordination today and James as he prepares for his ordination tomorrow and all those men who have answered the call to the priesthood. Thank you all for your sacrifice and service.