nfischerPeople often believe that priests are overworked, overextended, beyond reach, and underpaid. There are many stereotypes that priests have to move beyond–such as being too conservative, too liberal, too concerned about money, not being the best preacher, or even being afraid of being hugged. Yet through the course of my priesthood, I have discovered that my fullest expression as a person and as a priest is through my relationship with Jesus Christ. He has revealed in simplicity, that as I trust in His priesthood, I will be given abundant life and joy along my spiritual journey as His priest.

The gift of priesthood has meant a discovery of what true love is! While one might think the decision of a young person to harness his love and energy for the building of God’s kingdom is noble, I find that it is a privilege and an honor. I am able to love, serve, share, sing, pray, offer the sacraments, paint, and bring healing and encouragement for God’s people as they move throughout their Christian journey! As I recognize my own fragile nature, I am lifted up and able to be in solidarity with those who are broken and in need of Jesus’ healing touch. Together we, “praise the Lord our God and savior, who daily bears our burdens” (Ps 68:19).

One of my greatest joys as a priest has been drawing all kinds of people together and spending time in prayer with them in the Mass. God has allowed me to meet and give a painting to St. Pope John Paul II, pray with the UK Cats Football Squad at the Music City Bowl, and celebrate Mass and speak with thousands of youth from California to New York, Chicago to New Orleans. I’ve been blessed to travel to the Holy Land and celebrate Mass in the holiest of shrines and pilgrimage sites.

Without a doubt the life of a priest moves and grows when God’s love is sought after daily in Christ and throughout the lives of those in our midst. It has been my joy to be a small shepherd who leans on the Good Shepherd of both heaven and earth! I find that my joy is especially invigorated through the Holy Mass. During each Mass I celebrate I stand humbly in the person of Christ, bearing witness and offering the Sacrifice of Jesus’s body and blood for the sake of the Church. With God, all things are possible, and He’s let me love him back fully, perfectly through the Mass! Whenever we join together in the Mass, He is there. He is our life and our joy!

I now ask God’s blessings upon each of you as we continue to know the graces of our common priesthood which all of us share in since our Baptism. I also request your prayers for me and my brother priests as we joyfully serve as ministers of Jesus’ priesthood at the altar of sacrifice and in our world.

by Rev. Norman A. Fischer, Jr.
Originally printed in Cross Roads, October 11, 2014