If we truly understand how the Sacraments are God’s remedy given to mere human beings in the priesthood as the healing art for a world wrought with spiritual cancer, priesthood then becomes a meaningful life. Often when I begin a conversation with young men about the priesthood, I will ask them if they would be a priest if God called them to it? Some will say yes, and many will say no. Why would anyone say they would actually say “No” to God unless they didn’t understand who God is and what priesthood is? In the example about the “injectable cure for cancer,” young men will inevitably say that they would give up everything to be able to give the cure for physical cancer, because when great human need meets a healing art, there is a meaningful life. There is so much spiritual cancer in the world. An essential remedy for this spiritual cancer is the Catholic priesthood.
Appendix 10: What would you do if you were given the CURE for CANCER?
Often when I speak to a group of young men about the priesthood, it is difficult for them to see that the life of a priest impacts the very souls of people and their lives and destinies. In this article I would like to share with you an image we use in our talks to help make this connection, not only with regard to vocations to the priesthood, but to all states in life. It is based on a saying I heard years ago: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s hunger meet.”
Suppose that the pen you see in the accompanying picture were an injectable pen containing the cure for cancer and anyone with cancer, who received this injection, would be cured of their affliction. Would you be willing to spend your life giving this cure for cancer to others? (Young people tend to say they would, because it would help so many in need.) This gives us a glimpse as to why someone would choose to become a doctor or a nurse. There is a deep human need, a healing art, and when the two come together, there is a meaningful life.
What is worse than physical cancer? You can die with physical cancer and still get to Heaven, but what about cancer of the soul? Those who die with spiritual cancer can separate themselves from God and loved ones forever. What would you give to have the cure for spiritual cancer? Suppose with this special pen you could bring the cure for spiritual cancer to all people in need? To bring meaning back into their lives and connect them once again with the grace and friendship with God? Would you be willing to make this your life? To spend 40, 50, 60 hours a week bringing this kind of relief to people? (Again, young people say yes to this question, because you are helping people.)
Now you get a glimpse as to why a man would choose to become a priest. There is a unique spiritual cure given to priests in the Sacraments, and every priest can share story after story of the impact of their priestly ministry in the spiritual lives of their people—baptisms, Masses, confessions, anointings, marriages, funerals, visits to hospitals, spiritual direction, teaching and preaching, etc… There is a deep human need, a healing art, and when the two come together, there is a meaningful life. Similarly, a man who becomes a deacon in the Church participates in this healing ministry of the ordained.
But let’s not stop there. There is a spiritual cure for cancer which is unique and given to those who choose the Consecrated Life. Again, every person in consecrated life can tell stories of how their ministry transformed the lives of others and brought them deeper meaning in this life and brought them to Christ. There is a deep human need, a healing art, and when the two come together, there is a meaningful life.
There is also the healing art which is given to those who are called to the dedicated single life. The Lord calls them to reach people no one else will be able to reach. They are called to bring the cure which is Christ to others and to be that healing leaven in society. There is a deep human need, a healing art, and when the two come together, there is a meaningful life.
No matter where I go, I ask the question to people of what is the greatest suffering and need in their country or society. The answer is always the same. There are so many physical and spiritual wounds in marriages and in families. There is a cure for spiritual cancer which is given uniquely to those who enter into the Sacrament of Marriage (Cohabitation cannot address these spiritual needs). Marriage as a Vocation—a Call—puts into the hands of a husband and wife the healing power of God to help each other and their families to grow in love for one another and in their friendship with God. Marriage and family are the foundations for all other vocations. It is a stewardship in which the persons spend their lives being a healing leaven in their families, parishes, and society. There is a deep human need, a healing art, and when the two come together, there is a meaningful life.
Besides these states in life, we can also speak of choice of careers and occupations. When we understand our identity and mission as sons and daughters of a generous and loving God, then choosing a career is more than checking out my preferences or the best-paying option. Our life becomes a response in gratitude and our career or occupation becomes a means to enter more deeply into relationship with God and others. Each calling is unique and necessary for the life of the Church. Let the Lord lead you where He most wants your life to make a difference for others. The message on this pen applies to all of us:
Jesus: the cure for spiritual cancer.
One life to live. One life to give.
How is the Lord calling you to give yours?