Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
June 22, 2009
Priesthood stands as challenge to a world of secularity
The Year of Priests, declared by Pope Benedict and which will begin this week, should be a time to rejoice in the great gift of the priesthood. In a world that too often grovels in infidelity to anything of real worth, the priesthood and the consecrated life are shining beacons of glory beyond our imaginings.
There is much that is good about the secular world. But at heart, it is sick, full of sin and covering that filth up with glamour and shiny new toys. When it looks beyond that which is detectable with the senses, it sees nothing. It is empty and blind because it has no spiritual vision.
The priest offers such a vision. By his preaching, his celebration of the Eucharist, his compassion for the suffering and above all by his lifelong commitment to the Church, he raises our eyes to the Transcendent. There is nothing more valuable to our world. There witness of the priest is of inestimable value.
It has been said the Church would look odd without the laity. Indeed, it would. It would be a body without feet and hands. But a Church without the priesthood, without the man ordained to serve in persona Christi, would be no Church at all.
Without the Church, we would be lost souls scavenging the planet for scraps of bread to eat and a few rags to wear.
The priesthood has been dragged into disrepute because of the unconscionable actions of abuse by many of its members. The Church has rightly been going through a purging and serious self-examination to rid itself of the filth within. We pray and we hope that the years of this scandal are coming to an end and that the victims will somehow be restored to wholeness.
But the scandal of the world goes on and on, sometimes with no recognition that there even is a scandal. There is the scandal of abortion, the scandal of war and the merchants of war, the scandal of poverty amidst plenty, the scandal of environmental devastation so people today have wealth while those in the future will have nothing, the scandal of the separation of the gift of sexuality from openness to new life.
These are scandals that the world either will not recognize or is powerless to overcome.
The Church - broken and battered and sinful as its members are - stands as the only hope for such a world. It offers the hope of the presence of God, that God who is love and who makes all things work for good for those who love him.
The priest - more than any building, movie or piece of artwork - is the most visible symbol to the secular world of the presence of God. It is the presence of the priest that calls each person to turn their heart toward God. That presence deserves honour and respect and even reverence.
Many will not respond to the call. But some will. The priest must be held up proudly to the world. The world needs to see the priest.
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