July August 2023: Editorial

Priesthood – A Great Adventure


For my ordination to the priesthood 37 years ago I chose a quotation from St Thérèse of Lisieux to mark the occasion. She had written; ‘God does not call those who are worthy, but only those it pleases him to call.’ I discovered that St Thérèse, despite her enclosed way of life, had a particular understanding in her heart for priests and recognised such a man for what he was, an earthen vessel with all its strengths and frailties in God’s hands. As a young girl on pilgrimage to Rome with her father she had encountered some priests who were less than inspiring even, to her innocent eyes, scandalous. However, rather than take comfort in criticising their faults Thérèse decided that from now on she would place priests at the centre of her prayers. Some years later she wrote to one young seminarian for whom she had particular prayerful responsibility encouraging him to pray; ‘I ask you, O my God, to look not at what I am, but what I should and want to be, a soul consumed by the fire of your love.’

Apart from sometimes painful awareness of our own limitations there are many fresh challenges today awaiting those who respond to God’s call to the priesthood.
St Paul wrote of the message of God’s crucified Christ being regarded as foolishness and nonsense to those who considered themselves ‘wise’ in his own time. Similar skepticism surrounds a young person contemplating the priesthood today. But Paul concluded; ‘But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong.’ (1 Cor 1:27) There are so many examples of inspiring priesthood all around us to give encouragement and to remind us that priesthood remains as Pope John Paul II once described it, a great adventure, a profound opportunity to experience and enjoy the fire of God’s love through service of his people.