priest mass - smallWritten by: Fr. Jason Kuntz

Every priest is someone who HAS fallen in love – in love with the Lord. Our Lord asked Peter three times, “Do you Love me?” joined with the command, “Feed my Sheep!” Like Saint Peter, priests have devoted themselves to the flock of Christ, because they love Christ Himself. It is for this reason that a priest chooses to live a celibate life. Celibacy is not a negation of love, but a choice to love Christ “with an undivided heart” [1].

Nevertheless, the fact that a priest has made a commitment to Christ does not mean that all attraction to women will stop. If he is not careful to curb such affections, they may grow and the priest will find that he is “falling in love” in the colloquial sense of the term.

To remain faithful to his commitment to the Lord, a priest needs to be discreet in his dealings with women, especially those whom he may find attractive. He must continually renew his affection for the Lord by a constant prayer life. He should have healthy and sincere friendships, especially with other priests. In particular, a priest should have a spiritual director to whom he can confide any affections or thoughts contrary to his commitment to the Lord. All Christians need to make regular recourse to the sacraments of Holy Mass and Confession in order to remain faithful to their vocation.

It is a sad fact that not all married men remain faithful to their wife, and not all priests remain faithful to the Lord. This should be called “Falling out of love” not “Falling in love” – for it is abandoning someone they committed their lives to. Such men can ask the Church for a dispensation from their commitments to the priesthood and to celibacy. If the dispensation is granted they may remain in the Church as laymen. This is an act of mercy on the part of the Church for the spiritual good of an individual who is no longer able to remain faithful to the promises they have made. It is not a sign of the Church’s approval of their decision. When a man leaves the priesthood it is always the source of great pain – discouraging brother priests, scandalizing the faithful, and tempting others to also give up on the commitments they have made in life.

In these final days of Advent, the Gospels reflect upon our Mother Mary and Saint Joseph’s generous response to God’s calling in their lives. The greatest sign of their love for the Lord was their faithfulness to Him despite great difficulties and trials. The greatest sign of our love for the Lord is our faithfulness to our vocation in life. Let us ask Our Lady and St. Joseph to assist us all that we may remain in love with the Lord despite the challenges that life presents us.

[1] The Rite of Ordination for a Deacon

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