Monday, July 8, 2013

A Priest is Not His Own

Two weeks ago, I had the honor of speaking about the priesthood at my good friend Fr. Jonathan Meyer's 10th anniversary of ordination celebration. 

That night I shared the following reflection:

"A Priest is Not His Own"

It seems like most people, especially those outside the Church, assume that priests live on one planet and all other people live on a different planets, and that people know nothing about what life on the other planet is like.

I've realized something though - the priesthood and married life have more in common than some suspect.

Husbands can be annoying
Wives can be annoying
Priests can be annoying
and parishes can be annoying

Husbands can bicker
Wives can bicker
Priests can bicker
and parishes can bicker

Husbands are called to sacrifice
Wives are called to sacrifice
Priests are called to sacrifice
and parishes are called to sacrifice

A book that changed my life and really formed me as a seminarian was a book by Archbishop Fulton Sheen - "A Priest is Not His Own"

That is what priests have in common with all people - God is asking us not to live for ourselves

Because of that commonality priests can be inspired by the laity who do not live for themselves and the laity can be inspired by priests who do not live for themselves.

Priests often fail to realize how important they are for the laity, and the laity do not realize very often how much of a witness they are to priests and the rest of the world. 

Jesus tried to tell us 2,000 years ago that "unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat...but if it dies it bears much fruit"

He tried to tell us, but we so often need to see other people put it into action...and those people are the saints.

The saints show us that falling to the ground and dying to one's self, not being one's own, is not the boring and terrible way of life that it is often portrayed as but is instead a most enjoyable fall.

Fr. Meyer's priesthood has showed us all that when a person doesn't live for one's self, much fruit is born - crazy things like obstacle races, dancing altar boys, crazy homilies, parish festivals, restored churches, Saturday Night Lives, World Youth Day car raffles, and New Year's Eve lock-ins. 

Thank you, Fr. Meyer, for showing us that priests (and people) who are not their own are not blind and boring rule followers, but are people who live thrilling lives of love.

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