Our priests are much more than sacramental functionaries. Obviously, we need them for the administration of the sacraments, but they touch our lives in many other ways besides liturgical services. They bring us Christ’s presence in the joyful occasions of life as well as during those times of great difficulty and suffering. I have been especially impacted by the prayerful example set by some of the priests I have known on a more personal level. These men showed me what it means to truly be rooted in Christ. I am grateful for their witness.
I have appreciated the pastoral presence of priests during times of great illness. I have been especially grateful to receive the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick prior to all of my major surgeries, and before some of the minor surgeries as well. Through the hands of the priest I have been well entrusted to the healing touch of God. There is great comfort and peace in this wonderful sacrament and it has brought serenity to me on numerous occasions even when I was facing some difficult illnesses and challenging medical interventions.
The Sacrament of Reconciliation also brings the forgiveness, mercy, and healing touch of God to us through the presence of the priest. I have received some valuable insights from the priest in these moments of forgiveness and conversion. It is my sincere hope that each priest recognizes the wonderful gift you give to us through this intimate and personal exchange. In recognizing that you are sitting “in the person of Christ” and extending forgiveness to us brings a deep sense of liberation and healing. Burdens of sin are lifted from our shoulders and for this we owe you a debt of gratitude.
Your teaching, preaching, and guidance can be a source of strength to all of us as we continue our spiritual pilgrimage. Please don’t underestimate the impact you have on our lives. You may not hear it after a homily or after a class you teach, but the work and preparation you put into these endeavors is appreciated. You challenge and inspire us to grow in our knowledge and understanding of the faith so that we can live it out more effectively. That is no small feat.
Finally, I appreciate your friendship. I am blessed in my role as a deacon to have come to know a lot of priests on a personal level. Many of you have touched my life immensely, and I am sincerely grateful for your kindness, your friendship, and your ministry.
On this Holy Thursday, may God bless you with an abundance of joy, hope, and peace!