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Happy birthday, priesthood!

Holy Thursday is many things: the day of the Last Supper, the day when Christ was betrayed, the day when Christ washed the feet of His apostles. It was the day that Jesus instituted the sacrament of the Eucharist. And it was the day that He instituted the sacrament of Holy Orders, giving the first priests the power to turn bread and wine into God, body, blood, soul and divinity.

A great day for humanity! So much help was poured out for us on that first Holy Thursday. In particular on this year, I’m grateful for our priests. I’m thinking of all the men who’ve poured out their lives for their flocks . . .

The priest who let me in in the middle of the night when I went for a hysterical walk across town and decided I needed to go to confession for the first time in years now now now. The priest who took us seriously as a dating couple and encouraged us to stay on track. The priest who thought some of my spiritual struggles might be physical, and told me which tests to ask for.  The priest who took over our parish when the pastor retired. The pastor who came back out of retirement to help the new pastor, because there weren’t enough priests to go around.

And all the hundreds and hundreds of priests who forgive our sins, baptize our children, bury our dead, officiate at our marriages, and bring us the Eucharist. All the priests who proclaim the gospel, who bless and encourage us, who counsel and comfort us. All the priests who sing, whether they can sing or not. The priests who fight a thousand spiritual and physical battles on our behalf. The priests who endure suspicion and ridicule from a jeering world, and criticism and grousing from their own people. The priests who are expected to know everything, fix everything, pay for everything, and please everyone. And yes, all the priests who are tired and grumpy sometimes, and who say the wrong thing, or miss opportunities, or make things worse because they are just men. Every single priest wakes up in the morning and see an impossible job in front of him, and he gets up and goes to work anyway.

We love you, our priests, and we are praying for you, especially during the glorious marathon of the Triduum.

A prayer for a priest from Catholic.org:

O Jesus, our great High Priest, Hear my humble prayers on behalf of your priest, Father [N]. Give him a deep faith, a bright and firm hope and a burning love which will ever increase in the course of his priestly life.
In his loneliness, comfort him In his sorrows, strengthen him In his frustrations, point out to him that it is through suffering that the soul is purified, and show him that he is needed by the Church, he is needed by souls, he is needed for the work of redemption.
O loving Mother Mary, Mother of Priests, take to your heart your son who is close to you because of his priestly ordination, and because of the power which he has received to carry on the work of Christ in a world which needs him so much.
Be his comfort, be his joy, be his strength, and especially help him to live and to defend the ideals of consecrated celibacy.
Amen.

***

Photo: By Matthias Ulrich. The original uploader was Matteo3000 at German Wikipedia – selber fotografiert, CC BY-SA 2.0 de, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19508162

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