Friday, September 12, 2008

Value your priest

Today I picked up a book I read a few years ago, Angels & Demons by Joan Carroll Cruz, and out fell a pamphlet on priests. I'm not sure where it came from, but it contains some interesting perspectives on priests, and reminds us of their value in our salvation, along with a poem called "The Beautiful Hands of a Priest." Let me quote from the pamphlet:

What is a Priest?
Priests are mystery men. They come in assorted sizes, ages and clours. They are found everywhere speeding along, perspiring over, walking by, kneeling on, praying over, laughing with, preaching to, teaching about, pardoning for, and playing hockey with. (Hockey? -Now I know the pamphlet is Canadian!) Little children run to them, teenagers marvel at them, aged folk turn to them, non-Catholics stare at them.

A priest penetrates secrets, shares sorrows, heals wounds. He has the trust of a child, the kindness of a best friend, the sterness of a top-sergeant, the daring of a tightrope walker, the authority of an encyclopedia, the versatility of a commando, and the salesmanship of a Fuller-Brush man.

A priest is a humble creature, a mystifying worker at all professions. His hours are the longest, his salary the smallest, his Boss the best! He likes the smiles of children, a home-cooked meal, and the name "Father."

A priest is all things to all men in the sight of God. He may be misquoted, mistaken and misunderstood, but he'll always forgive because he's a mediator, a go-between heaven and earth. It's no wonder God loves him. He's a man standing at an altar clothed in Holy clothes, who, while being aware of his own nothingness, speaks to God for us and to us for God. And although his greatest act is to offer sacrifice, his most consoling one is to say to me, "Go in peace. Your sins are forgiven."

Beautiful Hands of a Priest

We need them in life's early morning,
We need them again at its close;
We feel their warm clasp of true friendship,
We seek it while tasting life's woes.

When we come to this world we are sinful,
The greatest as well as the least.
And the hands that make us pure as angels
Are the beautiful hands of a priest.

At the altar each day we behold them,
And the hands of a king on his throne
Are not equal to them in their greatness
Their dignity stands alone.

For there in the stillness of morning
Ere the sun has emerged from the east,
There God rests between the pure fingers
Of the beautiful hands of a priest.

When we are tempted and wander
To pathways of shame and sin
'Tis the hand of a priest that absolve us.
Not once but again and again.

And when we are taking life's partner
Other hands may prepare us a feast
But the hands that will bless and unite us,
Are the beautiful hands of a priest.

God bless them and keep them all holy,
For the Host which their fingers caress,
What can a poor sinner do better
Than to ask Him who chose them to bless

When the death dews on our lids are falling,
May our courage and strength be increased
By seeing raised o'er us in blessing
The beautiful hands of a priest.


Shirley said...

I think that's a pamphlet I put in the book before I returned it to you.

paramedicgirl said...

Shirley, I was wondering if the pamphlet was yours. It's a good reminder that we should treasure our priests.

Unitas said...

I read that book.

Shirley said...

I put it there because of your spiritual vocation of praying for priests. Might as well give where it will do the most good!

Mamselle Clare Duroc said...

I can never thank you enough for posting this. It came so timely for me! Unfortunately the majority of priests I come in contact with go to great lengths to portray themselves as 'just one of the gang,' while I see them in a unique and extraordinarily special vocation. They're constantly telling me that my perception is wrong.

Alec Guinness didn't believe it was wrong when he played Father Brown in the film and encountered the small child who chattered merrily to him all the way home. There is something wonderful about the priesthood, and when my priests are constantly telling me there isn't, I'm so grateful for this reminder.

paramedicgirl said...

Thanks, Shirley, for placing it there. I now have 18 seminarians and/or (hopefully) future seminarians that I pray for every time I pray the rosary. God willing, they will become good priests who will lead the faithful to tradition and holiness.

Unitas, good to see you back!

Clare, thank you. You are right in perceiving priests as very special. Even the angels bow before them, I have read. It is too bad that so many downplay their divine office.

Tom in Vegas said...

These guys are so unappreciated for what they do that our neglect of their efforts may rank as a sin. And to add injury to insult, they feel the stigma brought on by those who betrayed their vocation despite the fact that the overwhelming number of our clergy do their jobs faithfully, and with great sacrifice.