He Will Make Your Paths Straight!
So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts….” (Heb. 3:7)
In June, I began sharing stories about people who inspire hope by bringing others into relationships with Christ. We are all called to holiness, and the Holy Spirit of God provides the necessary gifts for us. Individuals who commit their lives to Christ must be fervent in prayer. The battle of good and evil is very real, and our ability to seek true spiritual guidance is our salvation. In the gift of priesthood we have an extraordinary group of men who bring the Body of Christ to life in the Church. Their ministry, instituted by Christ, provides the Sacraments and grace needed for a full and happy life.
As members of the Body of Christ, we should all be concerned about the salvation of others. But an ordained priest sacrifices much of his personal life for Christ, and provides hope for the eternal life promised by a merciful God. Once again the Church faces devastating revelations of scandal and abuse through the sins of some weak and immoral human beings. We must remember the countless accounts in Scripture where no one was spared from the evil attacks on God’s creation. It is often greed and lack of obedience to God that leads to the downfall. The intimate relationship we obtain with our Creator is severed when we sin or do not make time for prayer. In prayer we talk to God; in a true relationship with Him, we also listen.
It’s been four years since my husband and I moved to Morgantown, Ind. One thing I didn’t plan for when we “retired” to these 22 acres of woods was that my husband would want to manicure the area like a front lawn. The two of us have spent hours in all kinds of weather clearing away dead trees and pruning thorny shrubs. I must admit, while working in the woods with creepy crawling things and poisonous leaves; I have questioned this decision. I also concede that my husband’s persistence in cleaning up the woods have made a more beautiful place to explore. The once-dense land of trees and shrubs, untouched by human hands for decades, looks like a state park. The paths for walking are safer; the creepy crawling things are more visible; there’s less chance for an itchy rash; and fewer dead limbs provide more firewood. The fruits of our labors will be an ongoing process! This is life!
The life of a faithful and holy priest requires so much more than “cleaning up” the woods, but there are analogies. A priest clears a path with spiritual guidance to help us avoid the creepy crawling things and poisonous leaves all around us. They help prune and remove the dead in our lives through the sacrament of Reconciliation. They provide the Eucharist for us daily so that we may be nourished with grace for the challenges of life. Our souls will not rest peacefully without the help of the ordained hands of a priest and the sacraments.
I cannot imagine my life without the priest who baptized me with living water, heard my first confession, administered my first Holy Communion, enhanced my catechesis, anointed me in Confirmation, witnessed my Marriage, provided comfort at the funerals of loved ones and daily serves the Church I love! These blessings continue for our children and grandchildren because of the priesthood. Pray for the good and devout priests who now live with the scrutiny of those who abandoned their mission for Christ.
Remind your priest how important his guidance and words are to you, and ask God how you can help in his ministry. Open your hearts to the Word of God … TRUTH! Amen!