Sunday, December 27, 2009

Fr. James Farfaglia: Reflections on the Catholic Priesthood

While I was pouring myself a hot cup of coffee in the rectory kitchen a number of years ago, a priest friend who lived in the same rectory came through the kitchen, his face beaming with his characteristic joviality. “Come here,” he said,” I need to show you something.” Father had just celebrated his birthday and he had bought himself a little present. As he carefully opened the box he looked at me with the anticipation of a small boy with a new toy and cheerfully said, “Look at this!” What he was showing me was a beautifully stitched corporal and matching altar cloth that he had ordered from a liturgical supply company for his celebration of the Mass. “This new corporal and new altar cloth will remind me to say Mass better and better,” he exclaimed. I was profoundly moved by his words.

Similarly, Pope Paul VI prayed a beautiful prayer each time before he celebrated Mass, “Lord, grant me the grace to celebrate this Mass as if it were my first Mass, my only Mass, and my last Mass.” When I was newly ordained, I mentioned this story to another priest friend who said, “Yes, I know about the Pope’s prayer, but I have changed the wording. Rather than saying as if it were my first Mass, I pray that my Mass will be better than my first Mass.”

How wonderful it is for me to be in the company of Catholic priests who passionately love Jesus, the Church and their vocation to the priesthood!

A few years ago I came across an acquaintance that I had not seen in a long time. We exchanged warm greetings and she asked me how everything was going at my parish. I told her that our new parish was growing. Are you still the only priest over there?” she asked. When I told her that I was, she wondered if I was ever bored with saying many Masses on the weekend. I assured her that everything was wonderful, but I thought to myself, “bored”? I love what I do! I did not want to embarrass my friend, but I wanted to tell her that my biggest problem on Sunday is that each Mass has to come to an end. How could I be bored when I have been called to the Catholic priesthood? Each time I celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, it is as though a new Bethlehem and a new Calvary have become present for me. How could I be bored when I hold Jesus in my sinful and trembling hands?

Married men with children are called “Father” by a select group, their families. As a priest, people call me "Father." I too have been called "Father" by the thousands and thousands of people that I have provided for, nourished, and educated as a priest. It is my vocation to celibate fatherhood that allows me to stretch my heart and give of myself unconditionally with joy and love each day with renewed commitment and dedication.

Our nation needs good fathers, be they heads of families, parishes, or dioceses; furthermore, that they be true and loving men who will live out their vocation. And what is their vocation? It is simply this: love. “A man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends” (John 15: 13).

~ Excerpts from Fr Farfaglia's blog post: Today, December 24, I have been a priest for 22 years. ~

Mary, Mother of Jesus Christ, Eternal High Priest, Mother of all priests, and our Mother, help us respond generously to the Holy Spirit's request, through the voice of His Church, to offer up to God Eucharistic adoration for priests. Amen.

No comments: