An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Speak to Me Sunday, vol. 14 (Thoughts on the Priesthood)

*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.


Therese said...

Great post, Bia! And as the mother of 3 sons as well, I couldn't agree more!

Tiziana said...

Anche se non diventeranno sacerdoti i tuoi figli saranno sicuramente delle persone speciali come voi.

Lisa said...

So beautifully expressed, Bia. I feel the same way.

Damiano e Irene said...

Bellissime parole... Ci ha fatto venire in mente il testo di una canzone che cantiamo in Italia durante la messa.

Era un giorno come tanti altri
e quel giorno Lui passò.
Era un uomo come tutti gli altri
e passando mi chiamò.
Come lo sapesse che il mio nome
era proprio quello
come mai vedesse proprio me
nella sua vita non lo so.
Era un giorno come tanti altri
e quel giorno mi chiamò.

Tu Dio che conosci il nome mio
fa che ascoltando la Tua voce
io ricordi dove porta la mia strada
nella vita all'incontro con Te.

Era l'alba triste e senza vita
e qualcuno mi chiamò.
Era un uomo come tanti altri
ma la voce, quella no.
Quante volte un uomo con il nome
giusto mi ha chiamato
una volta solo l'ho sentito
pronunciare con amore.
Era un uomo come nessun altro
e quel giorno mi chiamò.

GrandmaK said...

Beautifully put my dear!!! Tough none of my three sons have been called to the priesthood I woud have bee jubilant if they had answered the call! God bless!!! Cathy

:o) mg said...

The thing that would be so overwhelming to me if I were in that position is that my child actually LISTENED to the call that the Lord put on his heart. As tough as it would be to put down my own dreams of seeing my boy(s) as tender, loving fathers, holding their babies in their hands, I would submit to God's will for their lives.
Don't be too harsh on the women who looked at you with shock... they just hadn't thought it through. Who knows? You may have been the mustard seed which needed to be planted in their own lives.

Hope y'all are having a great summer! muah!

PAOLA said...

Maria, grazie per quanto hai scritto: sono d'accordo.

Bia said...

Paola, Ciao!

Dami e Irene, che canzone bella!

Anonymous said...

Oh, what a wonderful blog you wrote dear daughter! You were truly able to express my feelings! As you know, everytime God has blessed me with a grandson I have shared with all of you my hope that one day he might be called by God to serve Him. And od course my ambitions do not stop at a possible of my seven grandsons has the potentisl to became a POPE!!!!!
Bacioni a tutti i miei cari nipotini dei quali sono molto orgogliosa.

Nonna Massimnilla

Ellen Stewart (aka Ellie/El) said...

I will start out by saying I was raised Catholic, but I am now born-again and attend and am involved in a non-denominational church. It's what works for me.

That said, in the Bible Paul says single people are better able to serve the church. I know when I was single I was able to do so much more, and when I married two years ago (today) I found myself also wanting to serve my husband, so I had to step away from the church.

While I have never understood why priests cannot marry, even though I sort of just explained it to myself, I have to say I think it's a fine, remarkable calling to respond to--the priesthood. Serving our God by bringing others to Him through knowing Jesus is the most honorable way to live this life.

It's exciting to think of who your sons will grow to be.

Kim H. said...

Beautiful post, Bia.

When I learned of the traditions of a priest's first Mass when our friend Fr. Patrick was ordained I was overcome with emotion. What a beautiful, beautiful gift for a parent.

I laugh, because I can't even imagine my boys now -- like yours, they are very un-priestly right now -- but I can pray like crazy, right?! St. Jude, patron of what seems to be a lost cause, pray for us! :)

Laura said...

We are also happiest when we follow our vocations and embrace them.

Lisa said...

When you posted this in 2009, Bia, I had no idea that I'd have sons in the seminary. The two that entered (Dominic, especially!) were so "unpriestly" --- seriously! But we never know who God is going to call -- And though it truly is one of thee most challenging vocations anyone can have, it's probably the one most highly blessed. I'm so honored and -- really awestruck -- that my boys are heading in the direction of the priesthood. But, ya know -- I'm just as awed and honored that our oldest had the calling to fatherhood. Wow. (How can I possibly be tha old?)