A Day in the Life of a Priest
Fr. Kurt Young
Never are two days exactly alike in the life of a priest. From baptisms to funerals to weddings to daily masses to anointings of the sick, a priest is required to offer up himself and his time to serve the people of God in whatever way he is needed. St. Paul tells us, “I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some.” (1 Cor 9:22b) Indeed, a priest is called to be all things to all people because he is working for the salvation of souls.
That being said, I would not trade being a priest for anything in the world. From the day that I was ordained a priest of Jesus Christ, I have had the privilege and the opportunity to be present in people’s lives in a way that is unprecedented in any other walk of life, and for that blessing, I am very appreciative. There are times when the mission of priesthood seems unrealistic or overwhelming, but in those moments, Christ always finds a way to fill up what is lacking in each of us and to remind us that it is not us, the priest, that people are seeking, but it is Christ, in the person of the priest, that people seek.
A priest’s life is generally composed of four areas, sometimes referred to as the four pillars of priestly formation—Human, Spiritual, Academic, and Pastoral—the combination of which might vary from time to time.
I begin my day with prayer and I end my day with prayer, these are two bookends that cannot be negotiated. Prayer is the key to fulfilling the mission of Christ and his Church as a priest, and every priest makes a commitment to pray the Liturgy of the Hours, which is an ancient prayer of the Church that is prayed five times throughout the day—at morning, at midday, at evening, and at night, along with an office devoted to lengthier readings of scripture and writings of the saints. In addition to the Liturgy of the Hours, a priest must be rooted in his own private prayer, which is the fuel for one’s personal relationship with God.
Prayer, is of course the Spiritual Pillar, but outside of prayer, there is a need to labor in the vineyard of the Lord, that is to do ministry. This ministry would be known as the Pastoral Pillar. After I begin my day with prayer, I then walk over to the office to greet the secretaries and the money counters and anyone else that is present. I then return emails and phone calls and create a “game-plan” for my day, based on what needs to be accomplished. Sometimes I have to immediately run to an anointing of the sick, other times I celebrate Mass in the nursing home around the corner. Some days I might spend a bit of time working on my homily preparation for the weekend, other days I might have meeting after meeting with people who are looking for some spiritual guidance and help.
In the evenings, after having celebrated daily Mass in the parish and having attended to all the aspects of ministry to which a priest must attend, I take some time for personal recreation and physical maintenance, otherwise known as the Human Pillar. Sometimes this takes the form of visiting with friends and catching up, other times this takes the form of physical exercise or sports. Whatever the case may be, I try to fit in some time for personal growth and development.
Finally, the area of a priest’s life that is oftentimes the most difficult to make time for but is also the most fruitful is the Academic area. I try to have a book, whether on a theological topic or a spiritual topic or a world event, that I work through at my own pace.
No one day is ever the same.
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