Those called to priesthood often aren’t the most externally devout individuals but are instead simply ordinary men called to live an extraordinary life. It is through a priest’s own ordinariness that he is able to reach out to others and they in turn are able to relate to him. As someone once put it: “God calls those who most need His help”. First and foremost though, this requires an active prayer life since without God we can do nothing; but through Him nothing is impossible. A priest must necessarily be a man of prayer if he is to teach and encourage others to pray.
Equally important is a capacity to relate to others and a willingness to do so. As Pope Francis has said: “People love their priests, they want and need their shepherds! The faithful never leave us without something to do, unless we hide in our offices or go out in our cars wearing sun glasses.” Priests must also be able to relate to people from all walks of life since their ministry can’t be limited simply to some and not others – sometimes the most important work a priest can do is to simply sit and listen to someone in need.
A Priest is also called to be an “alter Christus” – another Christ – and so needs to be willing to give of himself for the sake of others. Sometimes this can be tiring or even frustrating and often priesthood can be about labouring without any reward except for knowing that we do God’s will. In other words, it’s not an easy life to live. That said, it can also be an extremely rewarding one with the greatest rewards often found in simple things including especially the privilege of being a part of some of the most significant moments in people’s lives.