*this post was originally published a couple of years ago.
A fellow blogger recently left a comment wanting to know how I would feel if one of my sons were to become a priest. Here is part of my response...
A few months ago I attended a luncheon when the subject of the priesthood came up. During a momentary lull in the conversation, I happened to mention that nothing would thrill me more than if one of my sons decided to become a priest.
To my surprise, most of the women present looked at me as if I were crazy; in fact, many were truly horrified. It’s a lonely job, it’s too demanding, there won't be grandchildren, and he will be sent to a parish far away, they said.
Now, some of the women weren’t Catholic, so I understood their objections. But what really puzzled me were the reactions from the Catholics present.
Some of the women came from large families, so for them marriage and children were of the utmost importance. But John Paul II pointed out that we are called to serve God in different ways: some of us serve through the vocation of marriage; some serve as dedicated single persons; and some serve through a religious life.
The point is that all of these ways of serving are vocations, each noble in their own right.
Then, because our church is run by man, there have been mistakes, and some of the women couldn’t get past the negativity and scandal of recent years.
But there have been some incredible changes. For a young man to go through the lengthy process of screenings, psychological tests, and interviews shows that the priesthood is something they really, really want; in fact, all the young men I know who have been recently ordained are remarkably confident, intelligent, and spiritual. They bring with them a blend of spiritualism and exuberance that really connects with people of all ages.
Recently our friend Pablo celebrated his first Mass as a new priest, and during the Mass we sang a hymn called The Summons. The first verse of the song begins with Jesus asking us what we would do if He called us by name to serve Him:
Will you come and follow me if I but call your name?
Will you go where you don't know and never be the same?
Will you let my love be shown?
Will you let my name be known, will you let my life be grown in you and you in me?
These words bring me to my point. As parents, my husband and I strive to give our sons the gift of our faith, but if God should call any of them to serve Him further, how could we deny the strength, purity, and love of such a calling? How could we deny the good that could come from our son serving another in Christ's name?
When a newly ordained priest celebrates his first Mass, two special gifts are traditionally presented to the parents: to his mother, he gives the maniturgium, or the cloth that was used to wipe the holy oil from his hands during ordination; to his father, he gives the stole that he wore when he heard his first confession. These items will be placed in their hands when they die, making it known that they are the parents of a priest.
So, how would I feel if one of our sons should answer God's call to the priesthood?
Truthfully, when I look at my sons I don't think how such a thing could even be possible ... they are about as un-priestly as you can get.
But, if one day God should call any of them ... what an incredible blessing that would be.