A Priest is a man of Prayer
A priest is first and foremost a man of prayer. The priest lives ‘in persona Christi’ so his most important prayer is to re-present the sacrifice of Jesus during Holy Mass. His parish relies on him to offer a sacrifice “holy and acceptable to God.” Throughout the week, too, at parish meetings and community functions, he is often asked: “Father, will you lead us in prayer?” He is seen as a man who knows how to speak with God.
A priest spends each day in personal prayer through the Liturgy of the Hours and time in private meditation before the Blessed Sacrament. His private prayer is essential, for he must know Him of whom he speaks, teaches and preaches; he must come to have an intimate relationship with Christ. The priest becomes ‘another Christ’ for his people.
A Priest is a preacher of the Word
Since the beginning of Christianity, people have come to Jesus through the preaching of the Word. Today, this remains a primary ministry of a priest. Because the majority of Catholics encounter the faith and receive their inspiration to practice it from the preaching of their parish priest, men who can articulate their knowledge and excitement about their Faith are a great treasure to the Church. A priest’s duty, then, is to teach his people how Christ’s life is relevant to their own. He answers the question, “How can I live out my faith today?”
“The Church faces a particularly difficult task in her efforts to preach the word of God in all cultures in which the faithful are constantly challenged by consumerism and a pleasure-seeking mentality.” (Pope St. John Paul II)
A Priest is a Servant
A priest is not a priest for himself. The ordained priest shares in the mission of Jesus as Priest, Prophet and King. As priest, he prays and celebrates the Eucharist. As prophet, he preaches and teaches the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and as king, he serves others.
At the Last Supper, Jesus gave the Eucharistic mandate to His apostles, “Do this in memory of me,” but not before the Lord had knelt down and washed their feet. Jesus said, “What I have done for you, you must do for one another.”
A priest must be a servant to God’s people. He brings the love and strength of Christ into the parish, the school, the hospital room, the prison, the ghetto…wherever God’s people are and especially wherever they suffer, the priest is there.
Who is called?
God has called men of just about every personality to be priests, from fiery spirits like St. Peter and St. Paul to quiet men like St. John and St. Francis of Assisi. He has called fishermen, scholars, farmers, writers, noblemen, commoners, doctors, lawyers, slaves, soldiers, and tax collectors. We have seminarians who joined our program right after high school and others who were in IT support and chemical engineering. You name the background; God has called priests from it to serve him.
Sometimes you may be surprised by whom God calls, especially if he calls you. You may think, “God, you know me. You know what a sinner I am. You know my weaknesses. You don’t really want me to be a priest; there are other men who are much holier than me. Why don’t you call them?” But of course God does not need advice about his choices. In his divine wisdom, he calls those whom he wants.
Among other things, men differ in personality, background, and habits. God has called men of just about every personality to be priests, from fiery spirits like St. Peter and St. Paul to quiet men like St. John and St. Francis of Assisi. He has called fishermen, scholars, farmers, writers, noblemen, commoners, doctors, lawyers, slaves, soldiers, and tax collectors. You name the background, God has called priests from it to serve him. To hear if God is calling, a man needs to develop virtuous habits such as humility, courage, generosity, and patience. Growth in such areas will prepare him well for whatever path God desires him to take.
There is no single personality type that is “best” for the priesthood. The Vocations Director will meet and talk with you. He is basically looking for a good, well-rounded guy. He will look at your aptitude to gain skills to fulfill the requirements of the priesthood. St. Peter was an impulsive, emotional man with natural leadership skills, while St John was a quiet man with a tremendous contemplative mind. Pope John Paul II was an outgoing extrovert while Pope Benedict XVI is a shy introvert. If it is God’s will that a man be a priest, then every talent God has given him will be used in his priesthood.
Husband or Priest?
Having the natural instinct or desire to be a husband and a father, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be a priest. They aren’t, in themselves, contradictory. It only seems that way, because you can’t be married if you are a priest. But the Lord (and the Church) needs men who have all the natural desires to be husbands and fathers. With the grace of ordination, the Lord is going to focus these important attributes to make that man into a spiritual father who provides for, protects and nurtures the family of the parish. If you think about it, the natural love and care a father gives to his children are very important assets that a priest carries over to his calling.
I feel strong sexual desire for women.
It is normal and healthy for you to have these desires. God made us man and woman and by nature we are made for the sacrament of marriage, which is a gift from God. These feelings do not preclude us from being called to the priesthood. Being called to the priesthood is challenging in many ways, one of which is setting aside the natural gift of marriage and accepting the supernatural gift of vocation for the priesthood. A Priest’s duty is to join his brother priests in the church and lift up the married people and their children to heaven. God needs men like you that will say, “I will do it. I will set aside the gift of marriage and obey a special calling to work for the salvation of others.” Being a priest is a sacrifice, formed in the image of Christ, because that is the life that Christ led. Are you ready for the challenge?
I want a wife and kids.
It is natural and healthy to desire a family. God places this inside of us. Parents love, care for, protect and teach their children. A man who is uncomfortable with the thought of being a parent to a child will make a terrible priest. After all, a priest serves as a spiritual father to the whole body of Christ, the Church. A good priest guides his spiritual children on the path to eternal life, guards them against the snares that might trip them up and like a good father is ready to lay down his life for his children. It takes a humble yet remarkably courageous man to be a good priest. It is a life of sacrifice because it is a life modeled on our Lord Jesus Christ’s life.
A priest does not stop being a man when he becomes a priest.
Priests are men. Whether you are called to married life or priesthood, chastity invigorates manliness and unifies the mind, body and heart. In contrast, an unchaste man soon finds his mind, body and heart at odds, leaving him feeling ashamed, weak, pulled apart. Perhaps more clearly than any other sins, sins against chastity tear apart the soul. Living chastely strengthens you. A priest needs strength and courage to be a provider, to be generous, to promote life. A man brings all that to the priesthood and the Lord’s grace takes all of those natural instincts, drives and desires and makes him into a Godly, Holy Priest. A Godly Priest, then, provides spiritual nourishment via the sacraments (especially the Holy Eucharist), he generously avails himself for the needs of his parish family, and he presents and defends the truth so that his flock “might have life and have it more abundantly.” John 10:10.