By Fr Richard Heilman on Roman Catholic Man
After 29 years of this great gift of priesthood, I believe I have heightened my sense of what the essentials are for priesthood …
1) Without a doubt the most essential duty of a priest is to bring Christ, in the Most Holy Eucharist, to our people.
2) A priest must be a man with a deep and rich prayer life. He must also go to Confession at least once a month (Actually, I think priests should go twice a month to be fortified in supernatural grace, since the devil hates priests the most).
3) A priest must offer the “most reverent” Mass as is humanly possible, in that it is due God, and it assists souls in opening to the first and most necessary Gift of the Holy Spirit – Awe and Wonder.
4) A priest must make himself available “all the time” for the Sacrament of Confession. This means doing all he can to make people feel comfortable asking for this Sacrament. A line in the bulletin saying, “Call for an appointment” does not accomplish this, in most cases (People feel they are bothering the priest). This also includes preaching often on the necessity of this Sacrament. We need our people in a “State of Grace!”
5) A priest must be on call 24/7 to the bedside of any person in need of the Anointing of the Sick.
6) A priest must constantly study. Read, read and read some more.
7) A priest must be an effective and inspiring teacher. This is why #6 is so important. You can’t give away what you don’t have. Homilies are the usual format for teaching, but the priest can and should teach in other ways. Mini-courses, bulletin articles, etc.. I have a teaching website that I use for this purpose (romancatholicman.com). My website articles are then automatically posted to our parish website (stmarypb.com).
8) A priest prepares and administers other Sacraments (Baptism, Matrimony) with charity and fervor. A priest also prays for the dead, and prays with and consoles others at funerals.
9) A priest must lead people to discover and love the rich treasury of the Catholic Church … devotion to Mary and the saints, devotional prayers (especially the rosary), sacramentals, etc. Be generous in offering Eucharistic Adoration.
10) A priest must do all that he can (especially through prayer) to exude the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. If these are missing in priests, who people look up to, they will seem unreasonably difficult for others to practice. The priest must make the parish seem like a second home for his parishioners, but that begins by his very persona being a home for others … easily approachable. This makes it easy for people to come to the priest for spiritual counseling.
You’ll notice I did not add the administrative duties that priests cannot avoid … the parish has to pay the bills, etc.. As an addendum, I would simply say that the priest must do everything he can to delegate many of these tasks to others. A highly qualified administrative assistant, a business manager, a building and grounds supervisor, a good finance council and a vital parish council … all go a long way to release the priest from becoming buried in administrative duties that can take away from the “Essential” 10 Elements listed above.
And, my advice to all priests: “Minimize Meetings.” And, make the meetings you “need,” efficient and brief. Before I wised up, I used to clown by using the old latin philosophical proposition “Cogito Ergo Sum” (I think, therefore I am) and I changed it to: “Meet-igo Ergo Sum” (I meet, therefore I am). Many long meetings not only drains priests, but it can throw cold water on the fire of the parishioners, burning them out for more essential activities in the parish.
I love, love, love, love being a priest, especially since I discovered the most essential elements of being a priest. For all of you young men out there. PLEASE consider it … IT’S AWESOME!! 🙂
CP&S Comment – It is no secret that our Catholic priests these days are suffering an increased amount of stress and overwork in many cases. It is indeed also no secret that recently many seminaries were nests of dissent and heterodoxy due to a ‘lavender’, Marxist infiltration, causing the loss of many great future priests who were turned away for being “too orthodox”. Therefore the encouraging signs of a slow but sure ‘cleaning up’ process by the new, more orthodox tendency of the younger generation…. and heroic, faithful priests (like this testimony given by the above author, Fr Heilman) are now giving hope to a lost generation.