Today the Church universal commemorates the Feast of St. John Vianney (May 8, 1786 - August 4, 1859), who on this date 150 years ago came to his dies natalis. Our Holy Father has deemed this year to be the Year for Priests, a time "meant to deepen the commitment of all priests to interior renewal for the sake of a more forceful and incisive witness to the Gospel in today’s world".
It was St. Vianney who stated, "The priest will fully understand himself only when he reaches heaven. . . If he understood while he was in this world, he would die, not of fear, but of love."
I'm spending this day at the Notre Dame Land O'Lakes property with about 15 other religious. It's a blessed time of reading, writing (few days over deadline!!), praying, and enjoying the sort of comraderie with fellow religious that is so essential to the life.
Certainly from recent reading and five years of priestly life, I am mindful these days of the sort of burden or weight or inconvenience the priesthood can be to me and I would dare say to all priests from one time to another. Whether it's the rare ability to worship anonymously, the higher moral standard by which a priest is judged, or the wonder-lust shared by all humans who occasionally think that just maybe fulfillment is found in a different setting with a different job with different people, the gift of the priesthood can sometimes seem less a gift and more a burden. But soberly I suppose it can be said that it is both. It is a gift granted by the one true priest, Christ Jesus, and is also a share in his yoke, which is easy and a burden which is light.
These days of reflection have helped me to renew my gratitude for the priesthood and my sharing in it. And I close this post with the quote with which I began this blog over 230 posts ago.
"To live in the midst of the world without wishing its pleasures; to be a member of each family, yet belonging to none; to share all sufferings; to penetrate all secrets; to heal all wounds; to go from men to God and offer Him their prayers; to return from God to men to bring pardon and hope; to have a heart of fire for charity and a heart of bronze for chastity; to teach and to pardon, console and bless always. My God, what a life! And it is yours, O Priest of Jesus Christ." - Lacordaire
Prayers for and by Priests