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September 27, 2009

Our Priests in Our Lives

     On the day of ordination a man receives the power of conferring one of the most important gifts to God’s people, i.e., the Sacraments.  These men study for several years preparing themselves for priesthood.  During these years of study they wait in great anticipation for the day when they will be able to serve God’s people by gracing them with no less a gift than God’s own life.  What a marvelous privilege!

    When we are born we are brought into the world through the love of our parents.  As Catholics Christians the gift of our physical life is only the beginning.  Not long after our birth our parents bring us to the church to be baptized.  The priest, as a representative of Christ, is there to bring us into the family of the church.  Through this beautiful sacrament, we receive the gift of new life wholly connected to God.  It is no wonder a Baptism ceremony seems to invigorate a priest.

    When we are a bit older, around the age of seven or eight, the priest is there to bring us to God’s love through reconciliation.  Once we are fully reconciled with God we are prepared to receive God himself through the Eucharist.  Receiving such a gift is a great honor.  It is no less of a gift for the priest who has the immense privilege of bringing us this gift.  Only the priest, through the power of the Holy Spirit, has the privilege of bringing us the consecrated form of Christ.  A Eucharistic Minister has the joy of being able to distribute the host but only the priest can consecrate.  

    When we mature a bit more we come the priest once again, this time to a priest who has been given the added responsibility of being bishop, and we are confirmed and thereby fully initiated into the Church.  On occasion, the priest is given special power from his bishop to confer the sacrament of Confirmation on an individual.  

    Sadly for many Catholics, the reception of this sacrament seems to be understood as a finishing date rather than a time when full commitment is in order.  Perhaps it is the wording that is used, i.e. “we will be receiving confirmation”.   Maybe we should change the wording to say something like.  “Now we are ready to Confirm the commitment we originally made in Baptism.  We do believe and we are prepared to live this life of faith”.

    Still later in life we go to the priest to prepare ourselves for marriage.  Although the preparation itself can be done by a lay minister, the marriage, especially one during the Mass, must be presided over by a priest. 

    Lastly, we see the priest in time of illness and times of near death.  When we see the priest during these times we are consoled in knowing that we are not alone as we prepare to meet our God.   This is a tremendous blessing for both the sick and the priest. At this point we come to realize that we have lived a full life and that the promise of Christ to be with us always has been fulfilled through his priests.  This is a great privilege but it is also a tremendous responsibility.  Let us not forget to pray for our priests.

                                Lorette P. Nault