*Last night at St. Mary's, Monsignor Costigan returned to our parish to celebrate a special Mass in honor of the 50th anniversary of his priestly ordination. It was a beautiful service, and it reminded me of the time a fellow blogger wrote and asked how I would feel if one of my sons were to become a priest. Here was part of my response to her ...
Recently I attended a luncheon when the subject of the priesthood came up. During the course of the conversation, I mentioned how I would consider it a blessing if any 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.
What really puzzled me were the reactions from the Catholics present who saw marriage as the only viable course for their children. Many of them came from large families in which marriage is held to the highest esteem; after all, marriage ensures the growth of family and solidifies future generations. Marriage brings grandchildren and large family gatherings. Marriage provides inroads to society.
But in the eyes of God, marriage is about service (to each other, to children, to the Church), and as John Paul II stressed time and time again we are called to serve God in different ways -- whether by marriage, as dedicated single persons, or through religious life.
The point is, each of these is a vocation. Each one is about answering God's call. Each one is about service. Each one has purpose and meaning.
Recently our friend Pablo celebrated his first Mass as a newly ordained priest, and during the service we sang a hymn called The Summons. The first verse of the song begins with Jesus asking what we would do if He called us by name to come and 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.