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Priests? Really?

I’ve been thinking a lot about becoming a priest lately.  
 
Not in a crisis-of-identity sort of way.  After all, my mom always thought I would be a Catholic priest.  When someone tells you that, it can be construed as a sort of backhanded complement: you’re pious and sweet, but you may be neither marriable or employable.  I’ve proven to be both (somewhat).  So that’s settled.
 
Since Sunday, when Mark challenged us with our identity as God’s priests in the world (1 Peter 2:9; podcast), I’ve been trying to consider what that looks like.  No, I don’t mean how weird it might look during our potluck to have everyone wearing clerical collars, but what it might feel like and take to be such a priest.
 
I think back to my Catholic childhood, full of good priests and not-so-good ones.  I try to remember what I thought of in my encounters with the good ones.  I think of vows they take: poverty, chastity, & stability.  Each of these represent their self-giving and devotion.  At their best they present a brilliant witness to both Christ’s way and the life of Christian discipleship.  I think of the parish priest who is always available.  Who welcomes the outsider.  Who is so for people that they understand that God too is for them.  I think of the relentless monks at the Abbey where my brother went to school, praying and singing at all hours.  I remember the joy and contentment of these set-apart fellows.  I remember the grace and appreciation shown to me, the husky, irreverent altar boy, ringing the bells at the wrong times and always forgetting my dress shoes.  All these things made these priests accessible, and by extension, made God accessible to me.
 
Consider with me, in this time leading up to Easter, what it might mean to take up this mantle as priests.  What if the Gathering Church continued to grow into a community of priests, being present to both God and our neighbors?  Connecting people to God by revealing God’s “rare relentless grace.”  What might it look like in our city, if the Good News was proclaimed in and by a handful of holy lives pointing wholly to Christ?

Comments

  1. Easter…wow. Has it been a year already? I realized tuesday, that I met Richella one year ago. That means our 'little' church has been meeting for one year. Okay, one more time, and then thats it: One Year. Just flown by. 'Great thoughts Chris. This blog made me want to take another viewing of the film INTO GREAT SILENCE, Look it up on line. Might be to slow for some, but I saw the 3 hour film on the live of monks who live in silence, in one sitting. They sing every night, but they spend their days in silence, reading and in prayer. The Very Few times we actually get to hear them speak, well, those are the best moments of the film. ~

  2. I've actually seen "Into Great Silence."  Beautiful.  Like you say, the combination between discipline and solitude, along with joy and compassion (I'm thinking specifically about the scene with the elderly monk) were inspiring.  The funny thing though, seeing that movie made me want to pursue a "priestly" lifestyle where I am more, not just move into a mountain cloister.  I remember thinking, "These guys know how to party.  These guys know how to live."

  3. I am quite fond of Thomas Merton, after having really loved his journal, Sign of Jonas, some 25 years ago.  I ordered it this past year and have been happy all over again with his insights into monastic life, and interior dialogue.  Recently watched 2 hour documentary on him and thoroughly enjoyed it.  I was always so happy for him that he was able to live as a hermit his last few years, which is appealing to me.  You would enjoy how he  mentions his bumbling ways at times in priestly duties during mass, when no one else saw.  We are always present to God.  So glad.

  4. Dear brother, once again, your ministry grows on me, and I find myself reading and rereading your message this week.   What a good word the Lord has sent us.  Thank you for your obedience.   Karen