The Priest

The Priesthood
In 1 Peter 2:9, Peter makes a remarkable statement: “you are a royal priesthood”. This statement is present tense, applicable for all graced with faith, and it stands forever. How are we called today as men?

In the early church, priests (presbyters) performed two roles, sacrifice and teaching. Their goal was mediation from this plane to the divine, from God’s children to their Father. Sacrifice was specifically an offer to God in worship and repentance. As men we’re called to sacrifice today, starting with ourselves: our choices, our bodies, our lives.

Ignatius of Loyola
Ignatius, the saint and father of the Jesuit order who had amazing impact on Christ’s kingdom, first experienced the living God in 1522 after a serious injury in battle. He made a pilgrimage and began to open himself to faith, sometimes spending all night in prayer. He eventually left his sword at the altar, surrendering his privilege and soul to God.

He planned to spend a few more nights writing his thoughts but stayed 11 months. The fruit of this period is one of the great works of Christian spirituality, the Spiritual Exercises, which includes the Suspice, a short but powerful prayer of radical sacrifice:

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.
You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.

That is a hard read which doesn’t marinate well in modern, ultra-independent ears. Who and what is man who gives up freedom, or without memory, or without will?

Good questions. God has the answer: only in losing ourselves to Christ - through Him, with Him and in Him - do we find our true identity.

Profile in manly Priesthood
Tom Vander Woude was a man among men - the father of seven sons. A commercial pilot, he moved the family from Georgia to a working farm in Virginia so his sons could attend a strongly faithful school, Christendom College, and keep the family together. Fit and active, he often worked the farm with his youngest son Joseph, with whom he had a special bond, and spent 5 years as basketball coach at Christendom, leaving in 2007. On September 8, 2008, 20-year-old Joseph, who couldn’t swim, slipped and fell in the farm’s septic tank and began to drown. Tom, 66, plunged into the sewage, and for 15 minutes lifted his son’s head above the filthy waters, sometimes standing beneath Joseph while he himself was submerged, until help arrived. Tom was pronounced dead at the scene, but his son lived, miraculously suffering no damage from the toxic fluid he ingested. Joseph never learned to swim because Joseph has Down syndrome.

Said longtime friend Bob Laird. “For all of the good he did, he took no credit, but gave the credit to others... He dedicated his entire life to his family and his faith.”

Tom was secure in his identity, living his priesthood as a true Priest in Christ.

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