As Msgr. Pope’s blog says, tonight is the night that the Church celebrates the ministry of priesthood. It is an opportunity for us to give thanks for the blessing that so many priests have been in our lives. Many of us can think of a time when the words of a homily, or a visit with a priest in a moment of crisis or a conversation we had as we were leaving church made a huge difference in our life.
One Tough Job
Arguably the ministry of the priest is one of the hardest jobs there is. It is 24/7, the phone does ring in the middle of the night, lots of people want a piece of your time, and everyone wants excellent preaching every week. The pastor is shepherd, CEO, CFO, CIO and maybe even the IT guy. We expect excellent homilies, the perfect prayer for every occasion, and that they are at the office when we need them. We’re happiest if they like everything in the parish that we like and not like all the things we don’t like. We want them to be human “just like us” and we want them to be just like Jesus.
I am fortunate to be able to say that some of my most favorite people in the world are priests. It was a priest, over pizza at Domino’s who first suggested that I might have a gift for parish ministry and theology. He helped me find a theology program that was right for me and was present when I defended my dissertation. In my first job in parish ministry when I told him that I went to visit a woman in the hospital and she asked to pray the Memorare, and I had to admit I didn’t know it, he made me a palm size copy of the prayer so that it would never happen again!
Sharing the Love
I’ve studied with priests, I’ve worked with priests, I’ve taught priests and so I’ve learned a lot about what they most like. With a nod to the more famous Top Ten list, here is a Top Ten list for sharing some love with our priests.
10 For no good reason drop off their favorite snack or a fresh cup of coffee
9. Before you tell them it was the wrong decision ask how they came to that decision
8. Write a thank-you note
7. Support a new initiative Father wants to try in the parish
6. Invite Father over for dinner or to a family celebration
5. For every criticism you have to share, share a compliment
4 Help Father be faithful to taking a day off, going on retreat and getting away
3. Offer to meet a need before Father needs to ask
2. Know that they are holy and let them be human
1. Pray often for your pastor and for all of our priests