HPIM3124We are bombarded with negative reports involving Catholic clergy these days. Well, not here. The activities of Catholic priests are under appreciated and under praised. They perform a job that is difficult, lonely and demanding on their physical, spiritual and emotional lives.

Acting in persona Christi, is a consuming thing which requires a long journey of prayer, education and contemplation. This journey frequently takes the priest to places he had never expected, people that he never even thought he would know, and jobs he never imagined he would perform. When I think of the many priests that have positively influenced my life, I am thankful to have known such a colorful cast of characters that have kept me faithful to the Church and her teachings. We need to take a few seconds to think about that appreciation. Without the priest, we would have no Sacraments. The Eucharist, the source and summit of our Catholic lives, would not be there. All of the other Sacraments we frequently take for granted would be gone. Our lives as Catholics would be shattered without the seven sacraments that bring us into daily participation with God’s divine love.

All of the theological aspects we take for granted would be gone. Initiation into the faith, forgiveness from sins, spiritual strengthening while sick, marital covenant expression, links of Apostolic succession, the imposition of the Holy Spirit and Eucharistic nourishment all vanish without our Catholic priests.

This is the time to affirm their importance. Celebrate their Holy Orders and reaffirm support for all priests that daily bring to a fragile world the love of Jesus.

I think of the many priests that have influenced me in life. Good influences, holy men with countless talents as well as human shortcomings. The aroma of cigar smoke always brings Msgr. Joseph Waldron to mind. He was never without his beloved cigar. He gave me my first job, answering the phone and the door at Saint Gabriel Rectory. I guess it was a sign of things to come, namely my involvement for so many years in the telecommunications industry. Other priestly men are always with me as well. Rev.George Feider, O.Praem., a Norbertine priest that guided me through the complicated mazes of high school course selections as well as the guttural complications of studying German. No matter what I wanted to do, he always loved me and directed me to the right choice of doors.

I can never forget the person of Rev. Arthur Taborelli (recently returned to God). He kept me on spiritual track during my seminary years. His theological explanations and spiritual suggestions were always surrounded with humor but wrapped in pragmatic and realistic understandings of the Gospel message. His colorful personality always brought a welcome "cheer" to an otherwise dreary moment.

Little things always remind me of these men of prayer, learning and faith. Their lives illuminated and inspired me to study philosophy and theology. Regardless of each priest’s influence and personality they were all men of prayer and Eucharist. The celebration of the Sacraments was always the primary purpose for them. They brought Christ’s love and teachings to the world.

Priests today, no less colorful, accomplish the same tasks, with different methods. Those priests touch me as well through their daily ministry. The parishes are different but Christ is always brought into view at Divine Mercy Parish, Saint Madeline, St. Frances Cabrini, St. John the Evangelist and Saint Gabriel. Men that make a difference on a daily basis bring Christ to the world.

That is why we need to support and celebrate with them - and pray for them.

Whether we realize it or not, priests offer many facets to our lives that are being polished into theological diamonds.

Sometimes we think of our priests as ‘out of step’ and outdated. However, always keep in mind these guys are Jesus among us. A lot of times, because of our own human nature, we forget that the priest is human as well. We take for granted the Church’s Sacraments. A few moments of thought make me realize what an empty life I would have without sacramental grace. I appreciate and thank God daily for our Catholic priests and the great mission they accomplish.

When we go to the parish this Sunday, remember to thank your parish priest for everything, for being present, and for the Sacraments.

Copyright 2010 Hugh McNichol