Today is the second anniversary of my priestly ordination. I love being a priest, very much.
However, in God’s providence, today was one of those days that cause me to think that the priest is the loneliest man in the world. I guess all priests have these days. I suspect it’s integral to priestly identity.
The priest isn’t really the loneliest man in the world. The loneliest man in the world, I think, was Our Lord – afflicted in the Garden of Gethsemane, abandoned during his trial, scorned on his way to Calvary. During that time, Our Lord had no one. Priests, in contrast, have him.
The Mass for the priest on the anniversary of his ordination includes a very beautiful prayer:
that I may be in truth
what I have handled mystically in this sacrifice.
I think I might adopt this as a daily aspiration.
UPDATE Please don’t take this post as melancholic or self-pitying. Or even as a subtle plug for International Buy a Priest a Beer Day!
I had breakfast yesterday morning with two of my dearest friends. Later in the day I caught up with my spiritual director. And I had dinner last night with a group of priests with whom I was in the seminary. So the loneliness I experienced was not for want of human company.
Fr Mick MacAndrew has the right idea. In the comment thread below he describes it as “an aloneness.” It is, I believe, one of the singular privileges of priesthood, since it relates directly to what the priest does, and who he is.
So . . . by all means, buy a priest (any priest) a beer! But pray, too, that he is conformed to Jesus Christ not only ontologically (by the sacrament of orders), but also personally and affectively (by his interior life).