Priest finds joy in work that no material thing can give

I love being a priest. When I shared this fact in a homily a few years back on a college campus, … Continued

I love being a priest. When I shared this fact in a homily a few years back on a college campus, a young man came to me after Mass and told me he had never heard that from a priest. He had no idea priests were happy.  He respected the sacrifices of priests, was grateful for the ministry they provided, but the thought of priests as happy never entered his mind. I am happy to report that most priests do experience a great deal of joy in their life amidst the sacrifices. Priests live a life in deep relationship with God and in service to the people they serve. It is in this receiving from God and the gift of self that one finds the joy that no material thing in the world can give. I experienced this truth firsthand in my life.

I was blessed to have been raised in a strong Catholic family, going to public schools until attending the Catholic University of America. After graduating, my life on paper looked pretty good. I was working in Chicago, had a great apartment, and good friends. But I was experiencing an inner lack of joy and could not figure out why.  I believed in God, but my faith had waned considerably.  It was a pilgrimage to a Marian shrine in Europe that changed my life. I realized the one thing missing in my life was the most important relationship one can have: God was missing me, and without knowing it, I was missing him. 

I was pretty much living for myself at that time in my life, and the empty feeling that came from my selfishness was replaced by the generous love of our Lord. God gave me a taste of the happiness and peace that comes from living a life centered on him and others and not on self, and so I pursued that path, which eventually led to the priesthood.  People often ask why I chose the priesthood, and I reply with great confidence that I did not choose the priesthood, God chose it for me.  It is God who calls the priest through an interior desire, as he did the early apostles, and I am convinced that following the will of God brings one the greatest happiness and freedom.   

Once I remember rushing to the hospital late one evening to anoint a woman who was about to die.  Just moments before, she was happily having dinner with her family. These are the difficult moments in life that our Lord very frequently asks the priest to enter.  After reassuring the family of God’s deep love for her and reminding them of the promise of eternal life and a great family reunion in heaven that is sure to take place if we trust in God, her husband remarked, “Thanks for bringing Christ to us.”  It is in these moments that I realize why God called me to this life of sacrifice, to bring Christ to the world.  There are so many moments when the priest brings Jesus to the people through teaching, service, and the sacraments.  It is hard to explain the deep joy and satisfaction that one receives in the priesthood but it is evident to me and to the overwhelming majority of priests who are good and faithful in their vocation.  I love being a priest. 

(Recommended reading: “Why Priests Are Happy: A Study of the Psychological and Spiritual Health of Priests” by Msgr. Stephen Rossetti, associate dean for seminary and ministerial programs and clinical associate professor of pastoral studies at the Catholic University of America.)

Comments are closed.

Read More Articles

Valle Header Art
My Life Depended on the Very Act of Writing

How I was saved by writing about God and cancer.

Sociologist: Religion Can Predict Sexual Behavior

“Religion and sex are tracking each other like never before,” says sociologist Mark Regnerus.

The Internet Is Not Killing Religion. So What Is?

Why is religion in decline in the modern world? And what can save it?

river dusk
Cleaner, Lighter, Closer

What’s a fella got to do to be baptized?

Magical Thinking and the Canonization of Two Popes

Why Pope Francis is canonizing two popes for all of the world wide web to see.

An Ayatollah’s Gift to Baha’is, Iran’s Largest Religious Minority

An ayatollah offers a beautiful symbolic gesture against a backdrop of violent persecution.

Screenshot 2014-04-23 11.40.54
Atheists Bad, Christians Good: A Review of “God’s Not Dead”

A smug Christian movie about smug atheists leads to an inevitable happy ending.

Ten Ways to Make Your Church Autism-Friendly

The author of the Church of England’s autism guidelines shares advice any church can follow.

Pope Francis: Stop the Culture of Waste

What is the human cost of our tendency to throw away?

chapel door
“Sometimes You Find Something Quiet and Holy”: A New York Story

In a hidden, underground sanctuary, we were all together for a few minutes in this sweet and holy mystery.

Mary Magdalene, the Closest Friend of Jesus

She’s been ignored, dismissed, and misunderstood. But the story of Easter makes it clear that Mary was Jesus’ most faithful friend.

From Passover to Easter: Why I’m Grateful to be Jewish, Christian, and Alive

Passover with friends. Easter with family. It’s almost enough to make you believe in God.

Top 10 Reasons We’re Glad A Catholic Colbert Is Taking Over Letterman’s “Late Show”

How might we love Stephen Colbert as the “Late Show” host? Let us count the ways.

God’s Not Dead? Why the Good News Is Better than That

The resurrection of Jesus is not a matter of private faith — it’s a proclamation for the whole world.

The Three Most Surprising Things Jesus Said

Think you know Jesus? Some of his sayings may surprise you.

Jesus, Bunnies, and Colored Eggs: An Explanation of Holy Week and Easter

So, Easter is a one-day celebration of Jesus rising from the dead and turning into a bunny, right? Not exactly.