I went to confession the other day. We drove over to the University area to go to the Newman Center because we knew there would be no waiting. Convenient for us but kind of sad at the same time because I'm sure college kids probably need to go to confession more often than not.
As we drove up we saw a young man dash across the street with his Starbucks. Without his black uniform with the white collar, he would fit right in with other college kids. He was probably in his mid to late twenties. We parked and found out they moved where they were hearing confessions. It was now back at the old church building.
So, we walked in and saw this young man sitting quietly with his eyes closed deep in prayer. He didn't seem to notice us even though our kids were with us and weren't particularly quiet. After about five minutes he came out of his trance and looked over asking if he could help us.
I went over and asked if he was hearing confessions. He said yes, he was there for that reason, so I went over and knelt and we began. I started with "Bless me father, I have sinned..."
Of course, calling him father is the proper way to address him. Yet he was quite a bit younger than me. It was going to happen sooner or later. I'd meet a priest that was younger than me and call him father.
I told him what was up and he responded as if he had years of experience and wisdom. One thing about new priests which is nice is they're idealistic and enthusiastic. But he still spoke with wisdom beyond his age. It was a good confession and he sent me on my way.
I thanked God for calling this young man to the priesthood. We need more priests. We need to pray for them. They give us the Body of Christ. They are His instruments of salvation. They forgive our sins on behalf of Jesus. Jesus uses them as a visual persona Christi. I remember reading in St. Faustina's diary. Jesus would tell her to obey his representatives and He would let her know that He was borrowing their lips. They would in turn tell her exactly what she needed to hear and do. One time there was a bishop that yelled at her because of her visions and he rebuked her. So she was afraid to go to him again but Jesus told her to go ahead and He would again borrow the confessor's lips. Then the same bishop said something out of character and did a complete 180 from his usual gruffness. Because it was so different and out of character from what she experienced from him at her last confession, St. Faustina knew it was Jesus speaking through this bishop and could confidently carry on knowing she was on the right path.
People say things like how priests should be allowed to marry. These statements are naive and show little faith in God. Men who are truly called to the priesthood are given the graces to lead a chaste life. It's a supernatural calling. It demonstrates God's power over nature. Many priests who were truly called will tell you that they wouldn't have it any other way. They couldn't possibly raise a personal family and a church family without one of those getting the short end of the stick. The Church has made allowances for clergy converts of Anglicanism and Lutheranism who are called to the Catholic priesthood so that they could be ordained even though they may be married and have families. But God gives them special graces as well. Still, if they make wonderful married priests, they'd make even more phenomenal celibate priests. The priesthood is extremely demanding and they don't get the nice salaries that their protestant counter parts can often achieve. Then again, they have less to lose and are less distracted by material attachments. I praise God for the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience that are asked of by many in the religious vocations. Make no mistake, it is a gift from God. Their mission is single minded. Worldly desires and attachments aren't motivating them. Their job is to feed His sheep and they are serving only one Master. We need more men like these.
We must pray for priestly vocations.