The reflections of an Irish Catholic priest on his experience of loneliness moved me deeply, and confirmed me in own calling to adore and intercede for my brother priests. Among other things, this brother of mine in the priesthood wrote:
On a very personal level, when I go through the front door of the house, I sense the lack of another person in the house, in my life and in my arms. My vow of celibacy asks me to refrain from being emotionally involved (and indeed sexually involved) which is not easy by any means, and certainly I can understand why some of my colleagues would seek solace in the end of a bottle.
This week, I found myself in the arms of those friends who care a lot for me, and indeed I care as much in return. I would certainly wish that I could be with their company on a more constant basis, but distance prevents this from being a reality. We hugged as they came in my door, sat down for dinner and talked, then went to the local pub for a few drinks and walked home. When we got there, we sat down for a drink or two before another hug and adjourned to our separate beds.
As I got to bed, I went on my knees and offered up a prayer through my tears to God – a prayer of thanks – for bringing people such as these into my life and making me feel so human again. It was the first night in a long time that I can say I slept soundly.
I wish that I could have people like that in my life everyday and I know many would say well be it so but go and become a different religion or leave the priesthood, and I would have agreed perhaps before but I have no right to turn my back on God and leave after having received His call, and as for changing faith, it resolves nothing.
Many will no doubt say that when I was being ordained, I should have known what I was letting myself in for, and I cannot deny that, but it would be a reason why I would say to anyone out there who is considering becoming a priest, reflect carefully and honestly.
I know that I did, and I do not regret my life one bit, but I cannot forget that I am only human as well, and indeed I would ask you all to look at your local priest and remind yourself that he is human also – even with that special gift from God.
I ask you all to pray for me and indeed my colleagues as we endure such times in our lives, as we pray for you when you endure yours.
It occurred to me that this priest might find comfort in the words of Our Lord to another priest:
Friendship with Me is not difficult. It is the gift that I offer freely and gladly to all souls, but in the first place, to the souls of My priests. If priests lived in My friendship, how different My Church would be! She would be a place of warmth, of light, of peace, and of holiness. Many of the sufferings and hardships experienced within My Church, at the hands of her ministers, My priests, would not exist were priests, My priests, living daily in the grace of friendship with Me that I offer them and long to give them.
The solution to the hardships and trials of priests, the answer to the problems that beset so many of them, causing them to fall into patterns of sin, the solution is the friendship that I offer them. The Holy Spirit is poured out on every priest on the day of his ordination, and in that outpouring is given a marvellous capacity to live in My friendship and in the intimacy of My Most Holy Mother. So few of My priests accept this gift and use this capacity for holiness that I bestow upon them. This is the Johannine grace of which I have already spoken to you: friendship with Me, with My Sacred Heart, and a pure intimacy with the Heart of My Mother, like that of Saint John, and even of Saint Joseph.
The Immaculate Heart of My Mother loves all My priests. She accepts each one as her own son, and in each one she sees a friend of My Heart, a friend chosen by Me, and in whom I want to find all the qualities of friendship that I found in Saint John. This is part of My Mother’s role in the sanctification of priests. She will lead every priest who consecrates himself to her, as you did, into the deepest joys of friendship with My Sacred Heart. As for you, this has already begun, even though you may not always feel that you are living in My friendship and in the intimacy of My Most Holy Mother. Our eyes never leave you, not even for a moment, and our Hearts are united in loving affection for you, even as they were for My beloved disciple and friend, Saint John. Live in this grace. Do not refuse what we would give you in abundance. Remain confident. We bless you, My Mother’s hand in Mine.