Saturday, March 08, 2008

Ex aedibus Sotto Voce...Ó Mo Chroí

My dear friends, it is not for me to write here in too much of a capacity if ever at all, but in recent times here, many comments have been sent whereby you have often wondered how I spend my time.

I am also aware that there is constant focus on the lack of clergy going through the seminary and being ordained.

In the last few days, I have done some deep thinking and reflecting on my life and my vocation which I always do when life is being somewhat more difficult than usual.

Since last weekend, I have had to officiate at the funerals of 2 family members and in between all of that, I have had to try and comfort their families which is in essence my own family but in their eyes, you are a priest...not a brother, son, nephew etc...

And this is why I sometimes find it so difficult because when one becomes ordained, a bond of family is lessened as the priest now stands to serve all and favour none. This can involve making sacrifices such as not being available at Christmas or Easter, missing on a birthday and other such family events.

Despite becoming the religious / spiritual father to so many, we are never meant to become paternal fathers which lessens our ability to engage with families in the community or to understand the intricate workings of family life.

I personally believe that over the last 9 years of my priesthood, I have never so strongly felt the sense of loneliness and aloneness of the last few days and yes I have indeed questioned my vocation...

It can be very challenging to be on one's own and reflect on life and the role we are asked to consider playing in it with sometimes more serious issues being raised and needing to be addressed.

Sometimes, as a human being which is what I am first and foremost, I think of the bodies of those who I have anointed as they are taken from terrible tragic scenes - newlyborns, young people, midlife and the elderly - bringing to the fore my own sense of being a human being who will also need anointing by someone also wearing the collar.

Lest I forget, I am in a position / vocation which has that special dimension to it which calls me to be a Christian / Catholic in the service of God and the community at all times. This can be quiet daunting and this week was no less but certainly moreso as I was conscious that I had to be stronger for everyone else this week but when I reached my own abode, I was weary from it all and needed to be consoled myself.

On a very personal level, when I go through the front door of the house, I sense the lack of another person in the house, in my life and in my arms. My vow of celibacy asks me to refrain from being emotionally involved (and indeed sexually involved) which is not easy by any means, and certainly I can understand why some of my colleagues would seek solace in the end of a bottle.

This week, I found myself in the arms of those friends who care a lot for me, and indeed I care as much in return. I would certainly wish that I could be with their company on a more constant basis, but distance prevents this from being a reality. We hugged as they came in my door, sat down for dinner and talked, then went to the local pub for a few drinks and walked home. When we got there, we sat down for a drink or two before another hug and adjourned to our separate beds.

As I got to bed, I went on my knees and offered up a prayer through my tears to God - a prayer of thanks - for bringing people such as these into my life and making me feel so human again. It was the first night in a long time that I can say I slept soundly.

I wish that I could have people like that in my life everyday and I know many would say well be it so but go and become a different religion or leave the priesthood, and I would have agreed perhaps before but I have no right to turn my back on God and leave after having received His call, and as for changing faith, it resolves nothing.

Many will no doubt say that when I was being ordained, I should have known what I was letting myself in for, and I cannot deny that, but it would be a reason why I would say to anyone out there who is considering becoming a priest, reflect carefully and honestly.

I know that I did, and I do not regret my life one bit, but I cannot forget that I am only human as well, and indeed I would ask you all to look at your local priest and remind yourself that he is human also - even with that special gift from God.

I ask you all to pray for me and indeed my colleagues as we endure such times in our lives, as we pray for you when you endure yours.

40 comments:

Father Mark said...

3rd try! I don't know what I'm doing wrong. Brief: my heart goes out to you, brother. I will keep you in prayer. Drop me a line.

Father Mark said...

Praying for you and for all my brother priests in preparation for the feast of Saint Joseph.

Saint Joseph,
I take you this day as my advocate and defender,
my counselor and my friend.
Open your heart to me
as you opened your home to the Virgin Mother
in her hour of need.
Protect my holy priesthood
as you protected the life of the Infant Christ
threatened by cruel Herod.
In darkness bring me light;
in weakness, strength,
and in fear the peace that passes understanding.
For the sake of the tender love that bound you
to the Virgin Mary and the Infant Christ,
be for me, Saint Joseph, a constant intercessor
and a shield against every danger of body, mind, and soul
so that, in spite of my weaknesses and sins,
my priesthood may bring glory to Christ
and serve to increase the beauty of holiness
in his bride the Church.
Amen.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much.

I too wish you and all our clergy had the option of a life partner. Priesthood should never have become a bachelor status of privilege.

Tony said...

Hey Father,
I just read your blog entry "Sotto Voce... O Mo Chroi"

I have been considering the priesthood a bit lately and this is one area that concerns me. I imagine it can be difficult at times being alone. I will definitely be praying for you and all other priests that they have the strength and courage to forge on.
Sincerely,
Tony
California, USA
age 22

Anonymous said...

You've had a rough week, and I send you my sympathy and prayers.

The problem is that your situation doesn't really contain seeds of hope, a better time ahead maybe.

There are different kinds of suffering, and this kind, due to Exclusion is a diminishment of a human being.

I wouldn't blame any priest who decided continuance wasn't for him.

Scott said...

I think almost everyone goes through this type of questioning at some point during the course of a lifetime. As a religious of some 40+ years profession, I am still not certain that I have a religious vocation. It is the grace and providence of God that gets us through those "dark night of the soul" times, and these times will periodically raise their head.

Anonymous said...

You are doing a great job. Keep it up. Make lots of friends in the parish and visit with them. Also ask your bishop for permission to have the Blessed Sacrement in your house. He will be available 24/7 and will never forget or fail you.
God bless you and pray for a brother priest.

Anonymous said...

This post of yours has prompted some thoughtful comments on Catholica Australia Forum

http://www.catholica.com.au/forum/forum.php

under the heading of
Clericalism: the death of priesthood - PeterR, 08.03.2008, (see 3rd entry and those following).

Anonymous said...
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Br. Sebastián MIC said...

Father:
I'm a religious brother from Argentina.
First of all, I apologize if my English is not clear enough. It's a long time since I finished my English studies.

While I was praying for you this afternoon, this came to my mind and I need to share it with you:
Our Lady once told St Bernadette (in Lourdes) that She wouldn't make her "happy" in this life, but that She would make her "happy" in Heaven.
After that, St Bernadette discovered the greatest joy one can have on this earth. The joy of not having to "take care" of her own happiness. From then on, Our Lady was who took care of her happiness.
Giving your life to Our Lord, you have given Him a lot.
So ask Him, implore Him, "make" Him promise you that He will take care of your "happiness" from now on.
I know (and you know too) that He is GREAT enough to be "your joy" now and forever.

Father Mark said...

Dear Father, Your reflection continues to touch my heart, and has moved me to prayer for you. I commented on it on my own blog:

http://vultus.stblogs.org/2008/03/seeking_solace.html

Anonymous said...

dear Father, thank you for your post.as we get older is not easy to see and experience the call to be celibate demands going deeper and it gets more complicated.
if one sees it as just a discipline to refrain from sexual activity, it will be an impossible struggle. i think it is rooted more as a call to enter and live the mystery of human lonliness and solitude. then it is not something that somehow denies our humanity, but calls us to deeper immersion into it and to a greater solidarity with all on this deeper level of our humanity which may not be talked about but is with all of us.
when we learn to embrace this lonliness (and not run from it or fill it up with emotional or even spirtitual escapes) somehow it becomes a source of new life and even becomes our greatest gift to others.
this journey is not easy, but stay the path and it will be worth it.
years ago i found an essay by Thomas Merton called "Notes on a philosophy of solitude", and still consider it one of the best things on being a celibate. patrick in ny

Charles Ryder said...

Father,

Thank you for this beautiful testimony. It dovetailed beautifully with a conference we had here (at the seminary) yesterday on the trials (and gift!) of celibacy.
It is priests like you who serve to continually edify and inspire me to reach higher and depend more firmly on the grace of God.
God bless you - you are in my prayers.

-An American Seminarian

Terry Nelson said...

Dear Father - Thank you for being so honest and candid - what a beautiful testimony to the vocation of priest.

I don't know if this would be any consolation at all, but I have lived all my life celibately - although, not always chastely until I got older. I still have a friend or two now - yet I can identify with your solitude and loneliness very much. I have lived most of my life feeling very much alone and no one has ever been able to assuage that... So maybe, I understand your sense of being alone. At any rate, please know you are not really "alone" in this, as others suffer similar trials - of course you know that. I'm not saying this well at all - but the other side of this is that even with a companion, or in the midst of a community, the sense of loneliness often remains. I think it has something to do with the vocation.

Forgive me for trying to compare my situation with yours, but be assured of my prayers for you and my hope that our Lord will not let you down.

God bless you.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Dear Father,
You describe so poignantly the sorrow in your life and the weariness you feel from the service you give to the Lord and to others. You are grieving and weary - you need rest and the opportunity to grieve supported by friends who can give that tangible touch so meaningful to healing. Christ healed with touch, it is an essential human expression.
Know that Christ will comfort you when you go before Him - a hour of companionship means telling him everything. And He will give you peace. Peace which family members and friends do not possess. Christ also shared time with friends - you can be friends with married couples and families - you may be suprised how willing they are to invite you into their homes and lives. Like Mary, Martha and Lazarus, there are people waiting to befriend you and support your vocation. And perhaps help you grieve all those tragic deaths you are still carrying in your heart.
Lisa

Anonymous said...

[yeah, i noticed the allusions to a crush.]
it can be lonely in a marriage and family situation too.
u have to spend less time on the computer and get out more and make a huge effort to make friends. be much more pro-active about it.
*god bless* and lots of prayers for u.

maria said...

Dear Father,

I wish there were more priests like you! God's love and Jesus' companionship will get you through these tough times. I have faith that it is so.

Jesus is right by your side. Don't ignore Him.

Adoro te Devote said...

Dear Father,

Your post has touched me on so many levels, and has reminded me once again of the importance of praying for our priests, which I do regularly. I will add you to my prayers as well.

I am a single woman, and I understand what it's like to walk into an empty house, especially after/while suffering grief. No, I can never understand your own solitude, but I will say this; in your Vocation you KNOW where you have been called, you KNOW where you belong and that your solitude is perhaps often akin to Christ's own solitude in the garden. This at least gives you some meaning. And I disagree with a poster above who says there is no hope in what you are saying; I do see a great deal of hope, and even resignation, a sort of attitude of "This too, shall pass." And it will.

Know that you are in my prayers. When I go before the Lord today and when I pray Stations, you will be with me.

God bless you.

Anonymous said...

Dear Father, You work very diligently as a supporter of truth and fairness and this too has taken its toll. The contancy and thoroughness of your writing always amazes me, but what leads me to your blog is the knowledge that I will find accuracy and insider thinking, which to me as a lay person is of enormous value in dealing with the sometimes awful events happening within the Church and in the world as a whole.
Your post has touched many hearts and I thank you for your honesty especially in the face of such a drop in vocations.
I will pray for you, Father, and I will ask God to strengthen and re -new the wonderful He has given to us, through you.

Soli Deo Gloria said...

Dear Father,

You have been in my prayers since the day I read your commentary in defense of the rights of the abused.
I believe God is holding you in the palm of His Hand and that He can count each tear you let go and even those tears you suppressed. Our Blessed Virgin Mother will hold you every time you need her embraces for her Son Our Lord Jesus Christ loves you too much not to send His Faithful Mother.
I know you will smile again after you overcome this passing grief.

Janice said...

Please remember that loneliness comes to many people... and that married life is not always a cure for it. I am married and the mother of nine children and through my life I also have experienced many periods of intense weariness and loneliness in this hidden life of mine. It seems to me that in every exchange of love there must be needer and giver. And the giver can need to give and needer can give in his necessity. So... it seems needing, as much as we dislike it, must be present for love to be complete... right? We don't want to choke back or surpress our needs knowing that they must accompany us if we are to love in a complete way. When I am in this weary, lonely place with my messy unmet needs hanging out, I become like a child; I must wait for someone to meet them. By being left in my need I can see how,through the years, I have grown to be a better lover, drawing from that pain a deeper sense of humility and compassion. As I look back on my life I see those times as sweetest gift!
So... Ask God to help you draw from this loneliness the sweet fruits which He, in His goodness, intends to give you.

Fr. Andrew said...

A priestly heart goes out to you my brother. Though young in my own life, I encourage you to delve into intimacy of prayer with our Lord, especially in the Blessed Sacrament. He is to be our true friend, the reason for our celibacy. I was tested early by the loss of my own father (in fact he was my first funeral) and our Lord was my rock in that unexpected and unforeseen deluge of my first 3 months.

My Lenten discipline has been to pray the daily Rosary for my brother priests, especially those who struggle. I pray that you may weather this storm in the graces of our Lord. Remember Peter, and all his difficulty to follow our Lord's vocation.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your honesty, Father. For some time I have prayed for those Religious and Priests who are struggling and desolate. This lent has been a dark, dry and lonely...a daily trial. I have been unable to pray. When I read about your loneliness and dark night, I began praying. I will continue to pray that the Father takes tender care of you. Spring and the Resurrection is coming.
God Bless

Anonymous said...

In solidarity with priests around the world, I am a committed celibate woman (never married)serving the Church, living alone in midlife, and I pray the Office daily; in this way I live the two obligations you took on yourself. But there is no distance in the Body of Christ, and I am close to you in prayer. For your witness may God bless you and keep you, and please pray for me too.
(p.s. some of the loneliest people I know are married!)

Anonymous said...

Dear Father,

Your comments touched me on such a profound level. I have young sons who talk often of the priesthood and I want so much to encourage them and, do, and yet, this is the exact issues that tugs at my heart...the lonliness. I see how hard our parish pastor works, how devoted he is to us all and yet, there is this sense of detachment...there has to be, I suppose.

And yet, as it has been mentioned, and as you probably know from counseling those of us in the married state, there can be tremendous lonliness despite the presence of a spouse. We go through these seasons, too. And, the ache is quite profound, the presence of someone that you once felt so connected, too, and now no longer do. I have spent many a night on my knees begging God to take away the kind of pain that only comes from being alone while in the company of another.

There are no words such a simple woman like me could offer to a many who has given his life in the service of others. All I can offer are my prayers and the quiet confidence that our Lord knows what is best for us and gives us the stregth to endure.

Anonymous said...

Dear Father,
I am sorry for the pain you are experiencing. The pressures of concecrated life are unique; the loneliness you feel knows no limits in that it is willing overshadow people living out their vocations, single or married. I in no way want to minimize your suffering, I do want you to know that the distance that you experience because of your vocation (literal distance as in from your family, and interpersonal distance because of your position)is also felt by those married pastors shepherding flocks of our protestant bretheran.
I grew up the child of a Lutheran pastor so I saw firsthand the unrelentless burdens that are placed on the pastor, and in turn the family of that pastor. The distance between parishioners and the pastor also translates to a distance between the pastor and his immediate family. When I got old enough to talk to him about it, he knew, but he said he was so tired of being needed all of the time that he just didn't know how to give any more. When I asked if he wished he would have chosen a different path for his life, he said he felt like he would choose the same thing all over again, it was his calling.
I even considered the ministry (when I was still a Lutheran) and had several friends who did go to seminary. Those who went on to become ordained say that it is always a struggle for balance, but if they give everything to the church they can't do justice by their families. If they are right by their families, their ability to care for their flock is dimished. There just is no win-win. When I asked them if they had regrets, ALL of the women said "yes" and the men all said they felt guilty, one considered quiting. Each (I have called/emailed 11 ordained pastors that I know personally, who are currently holding parish positions) said they don't feel as close to their families as they wished, everyone had missed holidays with extended family, Every Single One said they had to miss/leave an important family event to attend to the needs of the parish community, and all but one said that this is the main source of conflict in their marriages (3 confided that they had seriously considered/talked about divorce but the concern was how this would look to the parish.)
When I asked them for some advice, they said that their pastor friends are the ONLY people who understand them and that their support is key to their ability to continue serving the church.
I pray that the peace of Christ, which is beyond all understanding, be with you.
I pray that all priests will find stregnth in the Lord so that they may continue to provide a model of charity and service for all people in their parishes.
I pray for an increase in vocations to concecrated life, especially the priesthood, so that the burdens placed on our hardworking, beloved priests can be carried by a greater number, as well as provide more opportunities for priests to share in the friendships they need to support and revive their weariness.
I pray that families will be open to life, and will encourage their sons exploration of the priestly vocation.
I pray that parish members recognize the gift that is their priest, offer thanks for the gifts and talents he freely shares, consider his needs and feelings as a person, and provide love, companionship, and support to him as their brother in Christ.
Amen.

Gordo the Byzantine said...

Father,

I was deeply touched by your post. I responded to it on another blog, and thought that I would also post it here.

God bless you!

In ICXC,

Gordo
------------------------

Father Z,

Thank you for posting this article. It is a good reminder that loneliness and a sense of isolation from others can define so much of our experience at times, whether clerical or lay, celibate or married.

While it would be easy for some to say that the issue is one of mandatory celibacy, I think that is far too simplistic. (I say this as one who favors a married priesthood.) I believe it has much to do with how the laity have been taught to view the ordo of presbyter. Without denying any of the sacramental reality of priestly ministry in this ordo, the notion of "eldership" places the priest-presbyter squarely in the context of the parish community. Ideally priests should have their vocation fostered and formed in the context of a specific parish community, where they should remain for the majority of their ministry. The notion that a priest should be a rotating dispenser of sacraments, easily moved from parish to parish like a cog in a diocesan wheel seems to fly in the face of his local identity as spiritual father...and I believe it can contribute to his own sense of isolation and loneliness. To get the full effect of this, envision if you will fathers in the natural order operating in a simliar way. Who would not view such a family system as dysfunctional?!? Fatherhood, whether natural or spiritual, is fundamentally relational. There should be an organic connection between priest and assembly, which is more than simply an "assignment". (The exception to this rule would perhaps be missionary situations, or circumstances where there is a dire need and no priest is there serving.)

Ultimately the bishop is the spiritual father to both his priests and their congregations. It seems to me that a key role of his ministry is to foster a sense of fraternity among his spiritual sons as presbyters so that this grace of spiritual filiation flows into their ministry within the parish communities. Many bishops now seem to eschew this understanding of their ministry, and the result are "latch-key" priests who function in large part as employees of diocesan administrators. We need to return to a much more organic, familial model of priestly ministry. In so doing, the grace of fatherhood and filiation cultivates new vocations to the prebyterate and diaconate, all at the service of Christ and the royal priesthood of the faithful.

Just my two cents...

Prayers of gratitude for all who serve as spiritual fathers.

In ICXC,

Gordo

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Dear Father,

I am a widow and I know what it's like to feel lonely and alone, to enter an empty house and be engulfed by overwhelming silence that makes one feel the last survivor left on Earth. And yet, in this strange space that we call solitude, I have learned that unexpected doors are opened and that somehow joy and hope are not extinguished even in the depths of despair. I have also learned that people can feel alone even when surrounded by family, even when in a loving relationship. Perhaps deep down all of us are really alone, for nobody can truly grasp another in his or her entirety except for God.

An anonymous writer here says that "your situation doesn't really contain seeds of hope." How wrong he is, for your hope is a Greater Hope and far from your situation being "a diminishment of a human being" I feel convinced that it is an enhancement of humanity for the selfless work you do touches the hearts of many who have need of your love and help and would be lost without it.

I pray that your loneliness and solitude be eased by God's love and by the love, appreciation and friendship of all those people whose lives you touch.

With best wishes,
Numancia

Castellanus said...

Fr., you can be assured of our prayers in this difficult time. I'm glad of what you said regarding your commitment to your vocation. Whatever our vocation, religious, married or single we must be faithful to it. People often comment how much easier it would be if only priests could marry yet that is certainly no answer. That does a disservice to all those who are single who likewise must remain celibate. Before I got married I thought I might have a religious vocation but realized I didn't and that I was called to the married life. As a father of seven you can bet that there are times when I don't wonder if I made the right decision. Yet make it I did and I must be faithful to it. Can you imagine what they would tell me at the Seminary if I came and said I wanted to join and by the way I left my wife and kids in order to do so? As someone wrote above, marriage is no guarantee of happiness or that you won't be lonely. Some of the lonliest people are surrounded by others, as anyone who's been to a nursing home knows. This situation is further reason that we must prayer harder for more people to choose a religious vocation. When there were 2-3 priests living in the rectory it must have made things much easier. Remember too that God does not give you a greater cross than you can bear and that Jesus and His mother are there for you.

Anonymous said...

I am adding you to my prayer list.
I have a comment about something you said, and bear with me, it may not come across the right way.

"which lessens our ability to engage with families in the community or to understand the intricate workings of family life."

I will give you more credit than you seem to be able to give yourself, you have a deeper understanding of "family life" than you know. You came from a "family." How to say this....?

You are human, we are human, you hurt, we hurt...etc. You understand what I am trying to say. We have more in common than is first visible. And you have your own history of being raised in a family to understand how families work.

There is a Priest here where I live and I see him very much as a Priest but also very much "as a brother, and friend to me." Because I choose to treat him that way and he appreciates that. I am someone he can talk to.

Pray, and then look around your Parish, someone is waiting for you to talk to them. They are nearer than you think.

Michael said...

Father, further prayers here as well.

Please, at a future time, help us laity with what you and other priests have found most helpful in supporting your vocation. Maybe a post that priests can share what they found the most rejuvenating and enriching experiences for their vocations.

Without yours, and other priests dedication and sacrifice it would jeopardize the very proclamation of the Gospel; the Sacrament of Reconciliation; the Sacrifice of the Mass and the Holy Eucharist. We would be a people without Hope...

We need you.

God Bless You.

Diane K said...

Dear Father,

I too posted my thoughts on the blog of Fr. Z.

Hang in there.....

First, my deepest sympathy on your losses.

I prepare for consecrated life – alone (I won’t go into details at this time), I have had to ponder many of the same things a priest or seminarian may, such as coming home to no one in particular.

My most heartfelt prayers are with Father and may the Blessed Mother hold him close.

Through a serious health threat while lying in the hospital, I realized, only by the grace of God this lesson:

Seek comfort in Him and in Him alone.

I have had to live with an understanding that as I go through life, I will have to fall back on that many times. At the root of it is a deep prayer life and through the practice of detachment and mortification – something which I fear has been absent in much seminary training because it is absent in most of our parishes (along with frequent confession which aids us in this regard).

Consider that even married couples must learn to seek total comfort in the Lord. Man and woman cannot fully give comfort to each other unless it is rooted in Christ. When he is the center of that comfort, they can withstand all that He sends them, including the loss of the other.

My Carmelite studies have led me to realize that things such as loneliness and sadness are tests and trials. I believe it is a form of temptation – one that can potentially lure us into seeking answers in the world. But resolution is not in the world.

Look at Psalm 42 in the Extraordinary Form: Iudica me, Deus….

The psalmist must bear patiently with the deception around him. So subtle is that deception that St. Augustine calls our attention to the parable of the wheat and tares (Mt 13:24-30) in his Exposition on the psalm (labeled 43). Tares look in appearance like wheat and the seeds were planted quietly during the night while the laborers slept leaving it undiscovered until there was significant growth. Jesus admonishes them to not be impatient, and urges them to leave the weeds until the harvest lest they pull up some of the wheat with it.

Psalm 42, in part, is about long-suffering and patience. What could take greater forebearance than to withstand the perceived absence of God at the time when one needs Him the most?

In the same exposition, St. Augustine says further…

“Why go I mourning, while the enemy harasses me?” Thou complainest of the enemy. It is true he does harass you; but it was you who “gave place” (Ephesians 4:27) to him. And even now there is a course open to you; choose the course of prudence; admit your King, shut the tyrant out.”

What matters is not that the psalmist experiences sadness and the pains of perceived abandonment, but what he does with it. Does he give up, or despair?

The great writers on the interior life have led us to an understanding that in order to build holiness we may experience such abandonment and even loneliness. It is a test to see if we will remain steadfast even in the absence of comforting consolations.

So, does what does the psalmist do? This becomes known in the next line where he acknowledges God’s light and truth. This is where he seeks his comfort amidst his affliction – not with feelings of consolations, but trust in God – the God of his youth, when he first knew those consolations. Only now he knows not by feeling, but by past experience, that God his strength will aid him in prevailing against these deceptions.

I pray that seminaries will cease being indifferent and even hostile to the works of St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Therese and other great mystics who have been treated as the other proverbial “nutty aunt in the closet”.

You will remain in my deepest prayers. May God be your strength this day and forever.

Anonymous said...

I too am prayihng for you, and for all those that feel lonlieness in theri lives. Having been married, divorced, and then re-married I can tell you that the lonliest I have ever been was when I was married to the wrong person. Every calling requires sacrifice, and the burden does indeed get heavy. Look towards the cross!

Anonymous said...

Dear Father,

I would first like to say that I respect and admire all the priests of the Catholic Church. It takes a lot to do what you do. As a Catholic from a small diocese, I am constantly in contact with priests. Whether it be at my home parish or at school, and they mean the world to me, I look up to them in the same way that I look up to my paternal father. I think that one of the hardest things for the lay people of the Church to realize is that priests are people too, but a realization that all need to come to. Yes, there are sacrifices to every vocation, but there are so many beautiful parts to each, especially the priesthood.
1) You get to be with people in the most intimate parts of their life. When they become a member of the Church/ when they are born, Marriage/ Holy Orders, and death.

2) You get to bring Jesus to His people. You get to Celebrate Mass, and bring Jesus literally to His people.

3)You are a spiritual father to many. That is a beautiful thing.

and there are so many more!

My prayers are with you and I hope these feelings pass and you have the opportunity to see the beauty in your life and vocation as a Roman Catholic Priest. Check out the song: Tunnel by Third Day. You should be able to find it on www.youtube.com .

There's a light at the end of this tunnel
There's a light at the end of this tunnel for youFor you
There's a light at the end of this tunnel
Shining bright at the end of this tunnel for you For you
So keep holding on Keep holding on.

God Bless You! :)
You are in my thoughts and prayers. Keep us posted.

Anonymous said...

Father,
I wish you lived next store to us. We have a growing family and meet up with many struggles in trying to live out our vocation and our faith. How we would love to have you as part of our family, to provide a safe heaven from the storm, to pray for you and you for us. We married folks have a great deal of respect for your vocation, and I truly believe that a good priest has better insight into how to live fully the marriage/family vocation than those of us who are trying, ever so imperfectly, to practice it. There is a family close to you who would be so blessed by your becoming a special part of their family -- and they would be a blessing to you. I pray that you find one another.

I am so grateful to our priests! Thank you for this post and for your vocation. My prayers are with you and all your brother priests.

Heather said...

Priests are people too...

What you wrote has really struck me. I haven't gone to Church regularly for quite some time, but when I do, and when I alter served and the rest, I was (and am) always sort of intimidated and... confused by the priests, even though they were very nice. It breaks my heart to hear of your struggles, and to think that my favorite priests may have felt the same way as you at some point is very very sad..

I think when you gain the position that you have, relationships with (almost) all people sort of change, as if you have authority over them.

It's kind of like doctors too...sometimes it's hard to see that they are people with emotions, and faults and that they make mistakes...because they have your life in their hands....we choose to view them as more powerful and in control than they really are.

As someone who has dealt with deep and dark depression (and who has come out the other side) the only advice I think is worth giving is to let yourself fully experience what you're feeling. Don't try to bury it or hide from it. Those emotions are there for a reason, and if you face them head on, there is great meaning inside of them. This meaning can only strengthen your purpose in life, as it flows directly from God to your soul.

I hope your best days are ahead of you Father, and from now on I will remember that people are people first.

Anonymous said...

my dear Sotto Voce... The sweetness and honesty of this entry... this glimpse into your heart... has touched my heart to its depth. In your struggles and pain you are beautiful.
I have adopted you in prayer... my dear Sotto Voce...
Everyday...
God is Gracious

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your courage and continued beeing that close in sharing hope.