Emmitsburg Council of Churches

The Top 10 Reasons to Be a Priest

Father John J. Lombardi

  1. You're right at the altar of Jesus: you're witnessing the Lord Jesus' prayer, as James McKay used to say on Wide World of Sports (which I enjoyed as a kid) "up close and personal". You don't have to take a back seat and get bored. Padre Pio, who had the stigmata (wound marks of Jesus Passion), was once asked how do you stand there and say Mass with those bleeding wounds, He replied: "I'm not standing there, I'm hanging there." Okay guys, young men-get into The Act like Padre Pio.
  2. It's The Year of the Priest: Pope Benedict has proclaimed from June 19 this year till 2010 in honor of priests. We need priests: for Mass, for baptism and weddings. If it's that important for the Pope himself to declare a Year for Priests then you-and others-should consider becoming a priest!
  3. Example of St. John Vianney-he's the seventeenth-century French guy, the Patron of Priests, who's diet mostly consisted of eating boiled potatoes; who hardly ever slept (and when de did. on straw mats); who lived in and dedicated himself to his parish-people for decades; who heard confessions many hours daily and converted many souls to salvation. He's kinda the "John Wayne of priesthood" and what boy doesn't wannabe like John Wayne (who un-coincidentally became a Catholic on his deathbed).
  4. Give people supernatural food: one time a priest was in Calcutta on Sabbatical, resting after surviving a morning of service and sweat. He gotta phone call: Father, can you please come down here?-Mother Teresa is home now! (She returned from Delhi after a death-threatening heart complication) She wants to have a Mass and receive Holy Communion. The priest got un-tired and went to say Mass for Mother Teresa and a few hundred sisters. A Dramatic Meal and deal. Thing is-the Supernatural Food of Jesus Christ is needed for a saint or a sinner and it is our priestly privilege to bring Him from Heaven and feed His people!
  5. You get a lotta good food-When you're a priest you get asked out a lot for dinner. One time I ate roasted goat in Tanzania-one of the funnest, funniest, faith-filled and most and ecstatic meals ever in my life. Another time I had crabs on the Chesapeake Bay. And tons of other times good, home cooked meals like pasta and seafood, picnic banquets by creeks, and tofu-tinged Chinese vegetables. Guys like to eat and ergo priests, and remember how important all over the world meals and fellowship are-"They recognized Him (Jesus) in the breaking of the bread" (Lk.24:35). Translation: Priesthood-you'll never starve!
  6. You can be married and single: You wed and are married to the Catholic Church as a bride and are still single-- you have the best of both worlds. Think of Pope John Paul II and how he inspired so many "John Paul priests" perhaps because they saw him both engaging the masses of people (get it-"engaging"!)And also was celibate-a holy icon to the High Priest Jesus Christ.
  7. Meet lots of people and experiences. I celebrated an absolutely beautiful wedding last week of Anthony and Natalie which was kinda' like a "big fat Greek wedding". It was reverent and mystically multicultural-from Greek and Latin songs to chant and Marian mediations, and then, at the reception line dancing, homemade wedding cake, and funny toasts and Palestinian dances and music of the family's home which were intoxicating. There were people from Israel, Frederick County and the mid west. It was a total joy to celebrate with this young couple and their families-and, also, have some good wine-and thereby encounter Christ in His myriad mystical mosaicness.
  8. Work at great places-I work at the Grotto, one of the most beautiful places in the world. Fr Dubois, a true guy and saint founded this mystical mountain Haven in 1805, and I enjoy meeting holy souls from all over the world. You'll also minister as a priest in other spiritual and sensately supernatural places and meet, by extension, a lotta holy folks. In all my priestly assignments' I've met so many saints.
  9. Play dodge ball games-(remember this talk was mainly directed at those forty altar boys at Mass!). Translation-stimulate vocations where you are and where it counts! Boys like dodge ball and so do priests! Frankly this one of my funnest things about being a priest and the Grotto. The manly-alchemy and spiritual joy we dads and priests and boys share always inspires us to love Jesus, His church and being a priest!
  10. Jesus Was…Last week I attended a "Summit on Vocations" and heard a talk by a priest and he mentioned that this "vocation business" isn't rocket science, helping to form vocations-whether to priesthood or religious life. Actually it's rather simple and illustrated by giving us the mnemonic device I C N U. Huh?!

He translated: By saying to an inspiring young man or woman: I see in you (I- C- N- U-get it?!) the qualities of a priest, or of a religious sister… You simply plant the seed of vocation in the person and let them -and God--take it from there. But if we never say anything we may be failing Jesus, the priesthood and the Church.

Read other reflections by Father John J. Lombardi