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“I still haven’t made up my mind whether I shall publish it all. Some people are so humorless, so uncharitable, and so absurdly wrong-headed, that one would probably do far better to relax and enjoy life than worry oneself to death trying to instruct or entertain a public which will only despise one’s efforts, or at least feel no gratitude for them. Most readers know nothing about canon law. Many regard it with contempt and find everything heavy going that isn’t completely lowbrow. Some are so grimly serious that they disapprove of all humor. Others come to different conclusions every time they stand up or sit down. They seize upon your publications, as a wrestler seizes upon his opponent’s hair, and use them to drag you down, while they themselves remain quite invulnerable, because their barren pates are completely bald, so there’s nothing for you to get hold of.”
— St. Thomas More to Peter Gilles, 1516
Prayer Sustains Ministry
published 28 July 2011 by Guest Author

Each day seems to present a new set of challenges, needs, and experiences since beginning priestly ministry in a parish five short weeks ago. Many of the needs I try to meet are important and even urgent; needs such as counseling terminal patients through their final days and hours, giving a family who has suffered a recent death hope, and hearing confessions of those who are obviously desiring the absolution that only a priest can offer. Other needs that I face are important while perhaps not urgent; needs such as learning thousands of individuals’ names in the parish, helping to supervise parish funds to ensure that no money is wasted, and coordinating my calendar with the pastor’s to guarantee no conflicts arise.

While all of these opportunities of growth are important and have a part in shaping my priestly identity they pale in comparison to the most important task I believe that I have…to pray. Only in prayer do I find the strength to be compassionate in the confessional, to be sympathetic to the grieving, to be strong for those who need a shepherd, and to be prudent with my limited time. In the month after ordination prayer was very similar to my experiences in seminary, very routine and scheduled with very little variance in time/location. But, in the short time since I began my assignment I have already seen how quickly prayer could become the first casualty of an increasingly busy schedule . . . the very same warning I recently heard as a seminarian.

With so many needs and having just finished years of preparation it is easy to become overly eager to ‘jump right into’ ministry without proper safeguards protecting times of prayer. The more meetings that are loaded onto the schedule the more behind the day seems to fall, meetings go over time, emergencies demand time to be dealt with, funeral rosaries necessitate counseling sessions be delayed, etc. When every other event scheduled in the day is put off, the temptation to delay prayer past the proper hour increases; but luckily I have wonderful brother priests who offer me encouragement and guidance. Already I have been invited to join a priest-prayer group and have had wonderful advice given to me by a brother priest with one year of experience as well as from a priest ordained for over fifty years. And of course my pastor has provided a great example of priestly service and love as I develop the priestly identity I know the people of our Church both want and deserve.

The people of God have been incredibly generous and kind to me, and speaking for myself and for the rest of the ordination class of 2011, I offer my heartfelt thanks and beg you to continue offering your prayers that God will help us to be good and holy priests. And to my brother priests, to whom I will turn for help in difficult marriage cases, dealing with parents upset at the trouble their child has gotten into, and voicing the disappointments that will inevitably occur when occupying oneself in parish ministry, thank you for your support, encouragement, and guidance that you offer your newest brothers. Finally, to my brother newly-ordained priests I offer my encouragement that we all remain as committed to prayer as we ever were during our time in seminary. Benedictus Deus!

-A Newly Ordained Priest