I want to take you three days back, to Holy Thursday, because my pastor, Fr. Dennis, gave the most moving reflection on the priesthood also in light of the recent attacks on the Church and on the Holy Father, Pope Benedict.
Here are some excerpts, though you can find the entire content here. Note- emphasis added.
Notes on Fr. Dennis’ homily given on Holy Thursday- April 1, 2010.
Few Catholics ever witness the conferral of Holy Orders with all of it solemnity, when the profound significance of the priesthood is seen in the richness of its ceremonies. And perhaps, that in part is why so many don’t fully understand it. Especially today, there are so many misconceptions and misunderstandings about who a priest is, what a priest is and what he should be doing—even among some priests themselves.
Few stop to think that “Christ suffers more than us by the humiliation of his priests and the affliction of his Church” [and] “if he permits it, it is because he knows the good that can come from it, in view of a greater purity of the Church.”1 But perhaps, Pope Benedict called this Year for Priests also as a source of consolation and support for a category of people, who have been the object of unrelenting criticism, scorn, hatred, defamation, attack and denigration by many people in our country and the world. Although this phenomenon has been growing for many years, it broke out with a vengeance several years ago when the sexual scandal rocked the Church. And since that time, the forces of Satan, aided and abated by his all too willing accomplices inside and outside the Church, have struck blow after blow, hoping to destroy the priesthood, and with it the Church.We see this all to clearly in the recent attacks against the Holy Father himself. It is evident that by flinging mud at him, they hope to bring down the entire Church. It is a source of grave embarrassment and sorrow for priests, but one of the saddest and most shameful manifestations of our perverse culture is the manner in which so many Catholics treat their priests.
Priests have given up everything with no thought of reward for themselves. Through ordination their souls have been changed for all eternity to be configured to Christ in a life of self-sacrifice. They have allowed themselves to be used as Christ’s instruments so that He can do His work among you here on earth. And although any good and authentic priest will tell you the great joy it is to be a priest, he will probably not tell you that his life is also a life of constant immolation in so many small ways in imitation of the One, of whom he is an image. He is called to be “another Christ” and that is why, at the moment of his death, he will be called to an accountability far greater and more terrible than anyone else can image because he will be called to account for every single soul that was in his care. Did he lose any? Did he try hard enough? Did he do all he could to get his flock to heaven? He was both Christ among you but also so very human and frail.
Don’t judge them but leave them to the justice of God. And remember they will be judged far more severely than you. Remember—they absolve your sins, renewing God’s divine life within you, returning you to His friendship when you have imposed your own will over His. They bring you Christ in the Eucharist, without which you would not be able to spiritually sustain yourselves, for as St. Pio of Pietrelcina once said, the world can more easily live without the sun than without the Eucharist. Priests baptizedyour children making them children of God and opening heaven to them. They join you in marriage, so that you can draw from the font of nuptial graces to sustain you in that often difficult task of wedded life. They leave the comfort of their homes at sometimes the most inconvenient times to anoint you and impart upon you the Apostolic Blessing, to help you pass through the veil into eternity.
Pray for your priests. Not that they do your will but that they be holy and faithfulto the end.
I especially ask for you to keep in your prayers my cousins Xavier and Alex as well as my brother-in-law, Matthew, who are studying for the priesthood!