“What an extraordinary act of courage to become a priest!”

A terrific appreciation of priests—and a tremendous affirmation of hope—by Jeffrey Tucker in Crisis

What an extraordinary act of courage to become a priest! It means embracing to the fullest extent the very thing that the world today completely rejects: the possibility for holiness to exist in any form. I don’t mean just the possibility that a person can become holy. Priests have the same moral struggles as anyone else. There are saints and sinners among them. What I mean is that the priesthood means giving up one’s own self to become an instrument for emergence of holy things inside of this world, and allowing one’s own self to become a vehicle through which the salvation of souls is made possible.

That act alone is one of incredible faith. It cuts across the grain of everything the world thinks it knows about the meaning of life. In effect, the world today thinks it knows that life has no meaning. We live in practical nihilism. We have come to avoid things like truth claims, but, in so doing, we end up turning our eyes away from anything that even explores the notion of truth. Without any notion of truth, we lose the capacity to recognize evil and vice, as well as their opposite in goodness and virtue. The possibility of sanctity vanishes.

A priest, then, is not just speaking the unspeakable, not just drawing attention to the very subject that everyone else seems to want to avoid; he has dedicated the whole of his life and being to the proposition that we can experience and even attain sanctity. There is such a thing as something holy and set apart. There is a reality outside of time. There is eternal life. There is a means to attain it. These are radical claims that contradict every intellectual trend of the last 200-plus years. And yet the men of faith who dedicate their lives to drawing attention to holiness persist and, in so many ways, sustain our highest aspirations as human beings created in the image and likeness of God who never stops calling us home.

Despite all that has happened over the last ten years in Catholic life—and it has been a difficult decade—all data indicate something completely surprising. Vocations to the priesthood are up. Mass attendance is up. Who could have predicted this? There is something wonderfully implausible about the priesthood, something radical and even revolutionary. God bless the men who follow their calling to lead us all to something higher and more spectacular than the rest of the world can offer.

Read it all and share it with a priest you know.


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