Why Would Anyone Want to Be Priest?

14 Aug

I have never liked small talk. I always dread questions like, “So, what’s new?” Not because I don’t want to answer; rather, I’m usually skeptical about whether people really want to listen to my reply. So when I say , “I just got back from a road trip,” people naturally ask where I went and why, and I’m left to ponder how much I want to tell them. Not because I’m ashamed, but because, again, I’m not sure how much they
want to listen.

“Where did you go?”

“Tulsa, Oklahoma.”

(pause) “Really? What for?”

“A buddy of mine became a priest!”

(pause, slightly more awkward than the first)“Oh, cool…”

Okay, so I’m exaggerating a little bit. But it did strike me that 1.) I was hesitant to talk about it, and 2.) people really didn’t know how to respond. I might as well have said that I went to Oklahoma for a Warhammer figurine decorator exhibition. My conclusion? People think the priesthood is weird.

Why? Think of what most of the world really values: 1. Money/power/status, 2. Sex/romance/companionship, and 3. Freedom/license—and not necessarily in that order. What are the three promises a priest makes? Simplicity, chastity/celibacy, and obedience. So it’s no wonder that most of the world thinks that the priesthood is uncanny So, again, why would anyone want to be a priest? Could it be that a man wants to be a priest wants to be a priest, not in spite of the sacrifices but because of them?

Priests, and Christians in general, the paradox that it is in denying yourself that you find yourself; that many times happiness comes not when you seek it for yourself, but for others Ok, kind of cliché, I know. But while that idea might be unoriginal, it’s not exactly unsettling, and yet many people are bothered by the idea of the priesthood.

Why? Those three promises—priests give up everything that most people feel entitled to. And heaven forbid someone imply that those things might sometimes be sacrificed! It strikes me that there’s really nothing “small” about talking about the priesthood, because there’s nothing small about the priesthood. It’s a heroic life undertaken by courageous men. So why would anyone want to be a priest? Because they’ve discovered the key to happiness, a magnanimous way to seek it, and they’re just crazy enough to give it a try.

-Isaac Huss

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