Our marriages support our priests

| Brad Parent | December 15, 2017 | 0 Comments
Brad Parent

Brad Parent

I’ll never forget where I was when I got that call.

I was sitting on my bed in my college apartment, halfway through my sophomore year. I had just gotten off the phone with my younger brother, who at the time was a senior in high school. He had just told me he felt God was calling him to be a priest, and he would be entering college seminary that fall.

As soon as I hung up the phone, questions began swirling in my head. When the dust settled a bit, I realized that in addition to all the questions I had about my brother, I also couldn’t help but ask myself, “What does this mean for me?”

It took some time and a lot of prayer, but eventually I discerned that it didn’t mean I was called to the priesthood like my brother. I was grateful for this clarity, but I was still wrestling with the question of how I could best support my brother in his vocation.

Prayer was an obvious answer. You don’t have to have a brother who is a priest to know how demanding priests’ lives are and how much they need our prayers. Yet, it seemed like it was my duty to somehow support my brother in a more specific and tangible way.

One such way was to simply be his brother. He didn’t need me to treat him like “a seminarian” or now “a deacon.” That might mean sitting around a campfire and sharing a few beers, or working ourselves into a sweat anytime we come across a ping-pong table. But the important thing is that he can simply relax, be himself and decompress.

Recently I was blessed to marry the woman of my dreams. My brother was even able to be the deacon at the Mass and witness our vows! In preparing for that sacrament, I realized that there is something even more powerful and meaningful I can do for my brother, and the good news is you don’t have to have a brother who is going to be a priest to do it.

It is to have a great marriage.

On the surface, marriage and the priesthood may seem like opposites. After all, one embraces the union of a man and woman, while the other embraces celibacy. It might seem that letting a priest see the joy in your marriage could be a sort of “taunting” or “showing off” of the good which he cannot have. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Marriage is intended to be an earthly symbol of Christ’s love for us and of the hope we have of one day being united with our Creator in heaven. Our priests remain celibate in order to witness to this very same reality. By foregoing something that is so good, their lives point to something that is even better. In this way, the priesthood is inextricably tied to marriage. The better witness our marriages are to the world of Christ’s love for us and for his Church, the more they proclaim the greatness of the priesthood.

St. John Paul II wrote in “Familiaris Consortio” that “when marriage is not esteemed, neither can consecrated virginity or celibacy exist; when human sexuality is not regarded as a great value given by the Creator, the renunciation of it for the sake of the kingdom of heaven loses its meaning.”

Our priests have renounced marriage for us and for the Church. Now it is our responsibility as laity to live out marriages that witness to the goodness of the sacrament. This in turn extols the dignity and greatness of the priesthood, and it ultimately witnesses to the reality to which both marriage and the priesthood point: the incomprehensible love of Christ for the world.

Our priests have given their lives for this message; we owe it to them to do our part to share it.

Parent is a consulting actuary and parishioner of St. Mark in St. Paul. Learn about the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis’ Catholic Watchmen initiative at rediscover.archspm.org or facebook.com/thecatholicwatchmen.


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Category: Catholic Watchmen