Priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus.
— Saint Jean Marie Vianney
Who is the priest?
Priesthood is a call from God. It is not merited or deserved, but a gift given by God to whom He wills. A man’s response should be one of humility in recognition of the gift. The response should also be one of trust in the Lord who nurtures that call in the heart of the man by grace.
By the Sacrament of Holy Orders a man is configured to Christ in a special way. By the grace of the Holy Spirit he acts in the person of Christ the head. This consecration is ordered to the service of the Church for the preaching of the Gospel and the sanctification of the people of God. While the call is deeply personal it is not for the man alone. It is for the building up of the Church.
What does a priest do?
Most people see the priest on the weekends hearing confessions and celebrating Masses. Celebration of the sacraments is of the highest importance. The priest acts in the person of Christ to bring the grace of the sacraments to the people of God.
What about the rest of the week? He meets with couples preparing for marriage, and with couples experiencing difficulty in marriage. He visits the sick and dying in hospitals and homes anointing them with oil to bring the love and healing power of Christ. He hears the confession of the person who has strayed from the Lord and desperately wants to come back. He consoles the family who suffers from the death of a loved one. He baptizes the child and welcomes him into the family of the Church. He buries the dead and offers prayers for their eternal rest. He looks after the material goods of the parish to ensure its health and growth. The priest is a man of prayer. Through prayer his own intimate relationship with Jesus Christ is nurtured. In prayer he also brings the heart of the people entrusted to his care with all their cares and concerns, their joys and sorrows, and he offers them to God.