By MOST REVEREND WILTON D. GREGORY, Archbishop of Atlanta | Published October 23, 2008
Spam is the common name for junk mail in cyberspace. Internet filters often eliminate most of it, but some always does manage to get through. The other day, I happened to receive a spam message that read “quit your boring job!” I laughed out loud at the suggestion that my job was “boring.” My job is the most life-giving occupation that I could ever have imagined—although it is not anything that I would ever have expected when I first decided that I wanted to become a priest.
I then imagined that I would be a parish priest—baptizing babies, preparing young couples for marriage, visiting the sick, engaged in the social ministries of a neighborhood parish, spending time with youngsters at school, in youth programs and in religious education classes. I thought that I would be a priest like those that I had come to love and to respect as a youngster myself. God obviously had other plans, but for those lucky guys who are living the life that I first envisioned as a priest, I can’t imagine any of them thinking that they have a boring job—or at least, I pray that they don’t find their lives boring! Priests on a national basis continually rank high on job satisfaction surveys and this in the face of celibacy, scandal and shortages in numbers.
This coming Sunday is Priesthood Sunday, an effort sponsored by Serra International to recognize, honor and pray for the priests that we have and those that we hope God will send us in the future. Like so many other special days, weeks and even months that now fill the modern-day calendar, Priesthood Sunday is a moment to honor a particular group of people—our priests—but also to remind us of our dependence upon and need for good, zealous, holy and joyful priests.
One of the questions that a young man might well ask himself in considering the priesthood as a vocation is “will it be fulfilling, will it make a difference in the world?” Young people want to live a happy and satisfying life, which is why the spam question was so foolish in my estimation. Boring is never a word that I have ever even thought about when I consider the work that I do as a priest—much less as a bishop.
Priesthood involves me with people at the most intimate moments in their lives—birth, sickness, marriage, suffering, death and promise!
I could never think of an occupation that would be so different each day than my life as a priest. I am not so naïve as to deny the challenges that come my way—but what honest person can truly say that his life is not filled with challenge and difficulties?
Priesthood Sunday is a new calendar event but an important one for the entire Church. Whether your parish has a special intercession or has a poster in the vestibule or passes out a memento card with a prayer for your priests—remember these fine men for a few seconds on Sunday—wish them well and ask the Lord of the Harvest to send us more priests, more young men who don’t want to be bored in the service of Christ and His Church. Even worthless spam can sometimes spawn a worthwhile meditation!