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Right before I was ordained a priest, someone close to me who was leaving the priesthood said to me: “Don’t be so concerned about what you do as a priest. Be more concerned about what the priesthood will do to you.”
Being so young, I really did not understand what he was saying. Today I do. Over the course of time it was easy for me to get down on people or to build an emotional wall between me and the people I came to serve. “Why are they bothering me on a Sunday evening? I’ve already put in fourteen hours today. I’m exhausted. Don’t they understand? I need a break!”
Over the years I keep asking myself: “Am I becoming a more caring and compassionate person as a priest? Am I less cynical and more patient because I am a priest? Or have I wound up criticizing and even detesting the people I was sent to care for and love?”
I also observe this in too many marriages and families. “This spouse I vowed to love…. this child I carried home from the hospital – I’ve wound up criticizing all the time or even hating.”
Our job is to love and to care for others without stopping to ask
Whether or not they are worthy of my love.