And what do I, a laywoman and a convert, know of the priesthood?
Not a lot. But I am learning - through reading Church teaching, through books like In Good Company, The Priest Is Not His Own, Many Are Called. Through the encyclical Mediator Dei. Through St Paul's letter to the Hebrews. Through my dealings with priests - during Mass, before and after Mass, in parish life, as friends.
Why learn about the priesthood?
Because , "What is a priest! A man who holds the place of God -- a man who is invested with all the powers of God' ....St John Vianney .
Or, as Fr Hardon has said,
Pope Benedict XVI, in this week's letter to seminarians, has warned against this style of thinking. The Holy Father has encouraged seminarians to put their relationship with Christ first; to do what is right, first
"It follows that . The priest is the leader of a sort of association whose membership he tries to maintain and expand."
And what can I, as a layperson, do to support priests? For, if there is no Church without our priests and sacraments, there lies a responsibility for all. For priests, to maintain their relationship with Christ, properly ordered, and then to serve. For laypeople, to pray and sacrifice for our priests, so they will be encouraged and supported in their vocations.
To pray and sacrifice for all priests and religious but most especially for those whom we know, for those in our parishes, for those from whom we have received the sacraments. For those whom we love, those orthodox self sacrificing, compassionate priests... and also for those priests who are, perhaps, misguided and who may be less of an example than they should.
And to pray and sacrifice for vocations to the priesthood and to religious life, so we may build up the Church as a shining star, an example, a beacon to our often secular world.