No wonder young John had to be by His cross, with His Mother. The sheer wonder of the priesthood is that, by the miracle of his ordination, the priest is made into a nother Christ, and thereby continues the holiest and highest thing that was ever on the earth: God the Son's sacrificial love for God the Father, and this truly awesome reality is what is protected by celibacy
A man does not become a priest because he has some talent or other, or because he likes liturgy, or because he wants to study the Scriptures, or win a doctorate in theology, or any other reason: he becomes a priest because he cannot resist the Person, Jesus Christ, and losing himself in Him. He loves His work, and all those people who are searching, and the glorious gifts the Master has left us in His Church, all of which lead us to Him.
A priest's life might be expressed like this:
To allow all the sadnesses and griefs of mankind to seep into one's being,
and there to understand them by the power of Christ's mind working
and to turn the sadnesses and the griefs to hope and the joys of man to foretastes of heaven -
and then to hand it all back to man to show him how to long for God -
this is life's pinnacle and the place where the priest stands.
And when all this is done, to meet Him, whose cross we shared so intimately.
Fr John O'Neill is parish priest of Doonside in the Parramatta Diocese, NSW.