I went to the cathedral this morning for the ordination of Fr. Jacob McDaniel, our newest priest in the Diocese of Gary. After burying seven priests in the last eleven months, it felt great to welcome a newly ordained!
I wanted to share the reflection I wrote on my Daily Reflections page this morning entitled “Nothing And Everything” because it says a lot about the priesthood as I see it. I hope you get something out of it. Feel free to drop in and read the reflections. They are published each morning at 6:00 a.m.
Nothing And Everything
“O Priest! You are not yourself because you are God. You are not of yourself because you are the servant and minister of Christ. You are not you own because you are the spouse of the Church. You are not yourself because you are the mediator between God and man. You are not from yourself because you are nothing. What then are you? Nothing and everything.” ~ St. Norbert
The priesthood is a very complex vocation. There are many people who minimize what a priest is and does. Take it from me. It’s a lot more than you think. I remember my aunt, my mother’s sister, who told me the day of my First Mass, that I had it made. I looked at her and asked what she meant. In all seriousness, she said, “You’re a priest. All you have to do is say Mass on Sunday.”
That’s all? She hadn’t even factored in weekday Masses. Even if she had considered those as well, there is still much more to a priest’s life than celebrating daily Mass. There are all sorts of appointments. There is sacramental preparation for the various sacraments. There are emergency hospital visits at all hours of the day and night. There are also emergency anointings at all hours of the day and night.
There is also the reality of being highly scrutinized as a public personality. Everyone knows who the priest is, where the priest goes, what the priest purchases, where the priest vacations, and on and on and on. There is hardly anything that a priest can keep private about himself. He is an open book.
A priest also is open to incredible amounts of ridicule and scorn. The world, steeped in sin, does not like what the priest stands for and the world will do all that it can to slight a priest so as to make him less of a leader in the eyes of his people. Even his own people will say things about the priest that is untrue either out of malice, jealousy, or other emotions.
Who, given all of this, would want to choose the priesthood? Honestly? No one. That is one of the great mysteries of the priesthood. A man does not choose the priesthood. God chooses the priest. It happened that way in the Old Testament times when prophets went to anoint spiritual leaders and it happens today when the Church “calls” a man to the priesthood.
The priestly candidate discerns priesthood. But when all is said and done, it is the Church, in the person of the bishop, that chooses the man to be a priest. He is called to lose all that he is so that he could be more like Christ each day.
Today, we ordain a man as priest for the Diocese of Gary. We do so on the feast of St. Norbert, whose quote was used to begin this reflection. God bless Fr. Jacob this day. God bless the Diocese of Gary. God bless all priests. And God bless the people that the priests have been called to serve.
FAITH ACTION: Kindly pray for the newly ordained today — Fr. Jacob McDaniel — and pray, as well, for all priests that the manner of their lives gives praise to God. Please pray for an increase in vocations to the priesthood and religious life.