GOOD MORNING WORLD
We all make choices in life. We choose to get up in the morning and got to work. If we did not we might not be able to choose what food to put on our table. We choose our life’s work by educating ourselves in a field where we have interest. Some people choose to teach knowing this will not be a large paycheck. The reward is in the work. Others choose to be lawyers hoping perhaps there will be big pay days. I know generalizations! Others choose a life of service with no regard to payment at all. They simply want to serve their fellow man.
The men and women of this country who choose to go into the military to defend America may or may not believe the hype of ‘see the world’. It is my belief that they have deep-seated desire to serve. I hear the nay sayers out there that this it is an easy out for many. I believe the vast majority of our military are there as they believe in what they are doing. You cannot tell me that my friend who is away from her family since Jan 1st loves life in Guantanamo Bay Cuba. I think she would rather be home taking care of those she loves instead of we who mock the military on occasion. Her husband struggles with health and her girls are growing without her. Easy way? Lots of pay? No! Extraordinary choice.
There are others who make extraordinary choices in their lives to serve as well. In many fields you will find people who love what they are doing. Some say they would do it for free if asked as they enjoy their life’s work.
One such field is that of the Priesthood. All of these men have taken a huge hit in the last few years with the news of the sex scandals in the church. These types of scandals happen in every profession and every faith. This was particularly repulsive as it was about children. It was a horrid thing for sure. Of the priests in this world it involved a few. The other extraordinary men living a celibate life were swept aside.
I have been blessed to have been raised in a family that was involved with church. I had wonderful ministers that were a part of our family. Two in particular became real examples of Christ on this earth when our family was in need. I am ever grateful for their loving examples.
When I converted to Catholicism I saw the priests as above me. Above even my ministers. As I grew in this faith I was reminded that the Church put Holy Orders and Marriage in the same sentence as the same Sacrament. Both vocations are equally important to the church. My marriage vow is as important to the church as a priest’s vow!!! That was a huge WOW!!!
In our ministry of Worldwide Marriage Encounter we have met some wonderful priests. They all have joyfully made a choice to give their lives to God in service. Can you imagine it? They have chosen a counter-cultural lifestyle to serve the Lord. They have chosen celibacy. Despite the news, the men we know are good honest caring men who believe in what they do and live their vows.
One of these men became a Bishop and he told the story that he knew from an early age that he was going to be a priest. Instead of playing cowboys he used to pretend to say Mass. His uncle was a priest and he was emulating him. I’ll never forget his comment about a pretty lady. I made a wisecrack about the inappropriateness to which he answered, “I am celibate I am not dead!” He has gone home to the Lord and we miss you +Jack!
Another is Father Mike who says outrageous things that we are often called to ask if he really is a priest. His claim to fame was that he often celebrated the Mass for Elvis week in Memphis! There is Father Stan with the Polish first name and Italian last who is the most joy filled inquisitive man. Being with him is like a warm blanket over you as he bubbles happiness. I do not think there is a hobby he has not tried as he continues to challenge himself in new ways daily. He is beloved by his parish family. I could go on and on with names like Father Jude and Father Chris and Father Charlie. Ordinary men who made and live a life of extraordinary choices.
Some of these men serve a diocese and actually receive a paycheck. Others, usually order priests, take a vow of poverty. Again can you imagine saying you will serve the world, not physically loving anyone and by the way do not pay me? There are men who do just that and serve us with daily. There are also women who do the same when they become nuns.
This whole post today came about as today is the 40th Anniversary of Ordination of a very special friend of ours. Father Joe serves with us in our ministry. We first met him years ago when we were living in St. Louis and attended a meeting run by three couples and a priest – Father Joe. They were from another area and they were going around the country giving retreat weekends for couples and priests. I was quite taken by Father Joe’s presentations on celebrating love in marriage. He was challenging we men and women to live our intimacy and to not take each other for granted.
Then we met him again when we moved to Maryland and have gotten to know him and love him. He is an order priest as an Oblate of St. Francis de Sales. Through Father Joe I have learned much about St. Francis de Sales and the simple wisdom he imparted to our world.
Today Father Joe will celebrate his 40th anniversary by participating in the First Mass of a newly ordained Priest. Another man has chosen to serve his fellow man through the Priesthood. In fact yesterday in this day and age of cynics and non-believers three men in the Diocese of Wilmington Delaware were ordained by our Bishop. While that may not seem to be a large number it is a blessing. For Father Joe to be celebrating his anniversary by sharing it with a new priest – well the smile on his face when he told us about it said it all. It will be a great day!
Happy Anniversary Dear Friend and thank you for your extraordinary choice Father Joe!
…..ONWARD TO MORE MISADVENTURE…