Striving for Holiness Means Accepting a More Humble Place at Table

James & John Ask to Sit

It’s easy as a priest to begin to buy into your own press. What I mean by that, is that as we’re preparing for ordination, so many people come and tell us how great we are and how proud they are of us for our decision to be ordained and our life-commitment to priesthood. Then many people will often tell us how good we are in one way or another. The temptation is there to begin to believe that we are great, that we are so gifted, that we do have and deserve a chosen place at table. I’m starting off my blog reflection here this way because I know that this is a reality in the lives of many priests and religious, many of my friends. We look for and desire the credit for what is God’s, and like the Apostle James and his brother John, there can be a temptation even among those of us who otherwise strive for holiness, to want a chosen place. It’s a very human desire to want to be liked, loved, appreciated, respected, honoured, valued – and in many ways there’s nothing wrong with this; as long as we don’t lose perspective. As men and women discerning our religious vocations; priesthood and religious life; we get all these things from God alone; what our brothers and sisters offer us is “gravy”, and what I mean by that is that we should be able to be joyful without it, just as roast beef is good even without the gravy, and even though we might think it better with it, it isn’t any healthier! Although I’ve succumbed at times to self-pity for feeling unappreciated, I try to tell myself that what we celebrate in the man ordained and the priests and religious sisters and brothers who serve us is that God gives dedicated people to His Church. Although I admittedly am not perfect at living this out, and I try to remind myself that the Apostles struggled to, I try my best to remind myself that we celebrate the office and not the man or woman.

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