Growing up in a Catholic Church with a priest and a nun in the family, one would think that I understood the ins and outs of the Catholic Church.
A write-up I read from Fr. Dr. John Baptist Masayi of St. Augustine’s Institute Nsambya (UCS), where he delves into the spiritual and celibate ideals of priesthood, sparked my interest in the unique aspects of Catholic clergymen.
Some of the important aspects he brought up that I had always taken for granted and never appreciated are as follows:
Priests’ vital position in religious rites and sacraments necessitates a rare and remarkable dedication to one’s faith as well as a willingness to forego certain aspects of a conventional existence.
Celibacy is one of the most fundamental aspects of being a Catholic priest. Priests, as Fr. Masayi pointed out, are well recognised for their commitment to a life free of romantic relationships and the joys of raising a family. While this may seem odd to some, it is a necessary condition for those who choose the path of priesthood.
We adored and appreciated hanging around the Catholic alter and helping in Church as children, but the notion of not having your own family scared my bones to do the duty.
They embrace a life without a companion to share their pleasures and sorrows, as well as the pitter-patter of little feet racing around the house. To priests, loving and dedicating their lives totally to their parishioners is a blessing and an honour, and devotion to God knows no bounds.
Choosing to forego love and familial joy in favour of a life of service to others boils down to realising that a priest’s calling is a heavenly vocation with a higher purpose that transcends personal wants. They have a significant impact by devoting themselves exclusively to their spiritual tasks.
Their days are filled with several tasks, as they preside over mass, hear confessions, and provide guidance to people in need of solace and direction. They are the backbone of their communities, guiding people through life’s ups and downs with their unwavering faith and compassionate hearts.
But it does not end there. A priest is not just a spiritual adviser but also a channel for God’s healing touch. They perform the sacrament of anointing the sick, providing comfort and strength to individuals suffering from bodily and emotional distress. Witnessing the power of faith and prayer in the hands of these dedicated folks is humbling.
Priests are sometimes portrayed as wise men dressed in regal robes, yet they are much more than their outward appearances. They are human beings with feelings just like the rest of us. They confront difficulties, doubts, and moments of weakness, but their steadfast faith keeps them going.
Some may claim that celibacy is obsolete or superfluous, but the Catholic Church regards it as a sacred practise strongly anchored in tradition and scriptural teachings. Priests commit their entire beings to the spiritual well-being of their communities by abstaining from marriage and sexual relationships, ensuring that they live lives of purity and holiness.
While being a Catholic priest may appear excessive to some, it is a decision made with dedication. Their life of service is characterised by the joy of bringing people closer to God and the satisfaction of witnessing spiritual transformations.
So, the next time you see a Catholic priest, take a moment to thank him for his sacrifices. Behind their gentle smiles and compassionate words is a story of undying dedication. They may not have their own families, but they have chosen to be fathers in their communities, embracing the gift of priesthood with fervent passion and unshakable love.