My own earthly father (whom I love very much) was, out of his own brokenness, ill-equipped to be a spiritual father. Growing up, my dad claimed he didn’t believe in organized religion. Sadly, I have no recollection of him ever going to church or praying with us. That was my mom’s job.
Years ago, as I was growing in my faith and in my relationship with God the Father, I realized how that had left me with a large father-wound that needed healing.
Our experiences with our earthly fathers have a major impact in the way we see our heavenly Father. For some people, having a father-wound tends to make them shy away from getting close to our heavenly Father. Fortunately for me, it made me realize just how much I needed to find my identity in the One Who created me and loves me more than I can fathom.
Discovering My Identity
I have been blessed to have experienced sweet intimacy with Our Lord in my own heart through my friendship with Him. By having a real relationship with Him, I have come to discover one of the most important things I could ever learn: my identity lies in being His precious daughter. I am a beloved daughter of a Father Who willed me into existence, loves me through and through, and even knows how many strands of hair are on my head. My identity lies in a God Who knew me before He knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
That is one amazing Father!
The Ministerial Priesthood
By the nature of their ordination, every Catholic priest becomes a father. In His goodness, Our Lord instituted the Eucharist as His true Body and Blood and the Sacrament of Holy Orders all at the same time: during His Last Supper with His disciples.
During the Last Supper, Jesus offered himself as the Passover sacrifice, the sacrificial Lamb, and taught that every ordained priest is to follow the same sacrifice in the exact same way.
Priests are God’s Gift to Us
Many are called, few are chosen. What a grace and blessing must be to be called to be one of His priests.
Without our priests, we would not be able to participate in the celebration of the Holy Mass and receive Our Lord in the Eucharist. We would not have a way to receive another beautiful gift of our faith: the Sacrament of Reconciliation. When we walk into the confessional, we are walking to talk to Jesus about our sins. This is where we come when we know we have fallen short and fallen into the temptation of sin. Through the priest, we ask Our Lord to have mercy on us and to forgive us. I love what Saint Isidore of Seville had to say about Confession:
Confession heals, confession justifies, confession grants pardon of sin. All hope consists in confession. In confession there is a chance for mercy. Believe it firmly, do not doubt, do not hesitate, never despair of the mercy of God.
Of course, in our human weakness, we sometimes keep committing the same sins over and over again. God knew this about us, and that is precisely why He instituted the Sacrament of Confession. In His endless mercy and through the Sacrament of Confession, the good Lord brings forgiveness to our broken hearts, hearts that have been broken by sinning against Him, ourselves, and others.
We moved from Florida to my husband’s hometown of Bismarck, ND in 2008. There, for the first time in my life, I began having the privilege of experiencing amazing and holy friendships with our priests.
My husband has a good childhood friend who became a priest, and we had the gift of having him and many other priests in and out of our home. Breaking bread with them, laughing, and witnessing the beauty of a faithfully-lived vocation (while also learning that they as human) was truly a blessing.
Once, we had our friend and pastor, Father Guthrie, over for dinner. We enjoyed a nice meal together with great conversation and, as I walked away from the table to clear the dishes, I began to hear the two of them go on and on about their favorite movie quotes. It became clear that both had watched The Godfather many times. They were unabashedly trying to outdo one another as to who could recite more quotes from this iconic movie. I remember thinking how cool it was to watch my husband and our priest being just like two regular guys.
Serving Our Priests
As I started volunteering in different capacities at our parish, I had the opportunity to join a handful of women in our diocese who started a ministry which concentrated on caring for our priests' daily needs, including cooking for them twice a week. We would take turns cooking for different priests. Watching the pure joy and appreciation in their faces as they got together with other brother priests to enjoy a nice homemade meal was truly beautiful.
I began to realize that these holy men were indispensable and a big reason why I love my Catholic Faith. They show us and model to us what it is to live a life of sacrificial love. They give up everything to serve Our Lord in the most unselfish and profound way.
The Beauty of Sacrificial Love
In a world that is becoming more and more selfish and unwilling to understand the true meaning of sacrificial love, I can see why a vocation to the priesthood will always be inviting to so many faithful Catholic young men who are growing tired of this world’s empty promises.
Since moving to the Charlotte, NC area, my family and I now have the blessing of having Fr. John Putnam as our pastor. As a leader of a large parish that now has over 5,000 families, he has proven to be an amazing spiritual leader.
Fr. Putnam was the one chosen by God to be used as His instrument to completely heal me from the terrible trauma of the sexual abuse I suffered as a little girl. He walked me through an amazing healing process that has completely changed my life. Thank God for our holy priests, who in their wisdom know how to minister to us when we need it most.
Fr. Putnam has played the part of the supportive father, but most importantly, he understands that his first and most important job is to teach and guide his children towards God. I feel the Lord has used him to help prune me and best prepare me for a life of discipleship. I’m blessed beyond belief that God would be so kind as to give me such an amazing spiritual father.
Dear Lord, bless and protect all priests. Provide them with all the graces necessary to remain faithful and steadfast in their vocation with fidelity, love and zeal. Amen.