“To go from men to God and offer Him their prayers; to return from God to men to bring pardon and hope.”

Portrait_of_Dominique_LacordaireThis post is a continuation of a previous post. To read the previous post, click here: What Does it Mean to be a Priest? Part 5: On Healing

I’m writing this on Election Day 2016. By the time you read this we will all know who will be the 45th president of the United States. I must say, that in the few years I have been on this earth, and in the even shorter time that I have been cognitive of current events, these have been the most tumultuous times I have experienced. How appropriate is it then, that in the midst of these troubling times we discuss the section of Lacordaire’s quote pertaining to prayer and hope.

A Match Made in Heaven

My original plan (set out in the intro. post found here) was to split up these two characteristics of what it means to be a priest and discuss them individually. The more I thought about it however, and when I realized I would be publishing this post the day after the election, I knew that I had to combine the two. Prayer and hope go hand in hand. You can’t really have one without the other. Why do we pray? To give God glory and praise, of course. But why else? Because we want to have a relationship with God in the hope of spending eternity with Him.

My Sacrifice and Yours

There is no more perfect example of the intimacy between prayer and hope than in the most perfect prayer that we have: the mass. During mass our human supplications and earthly requests mingle with divine answers and heavenly replies. It is during Mass that the priest takes not only bread and wine, but he gathers together all of our prayers and petitions as well and offers them to God (the priest goes from men to God). It is in this offering that God, through the person of the priest, gives us hope (the priest returns from God to men). Hope is a divine gift that is given to us by God. It is to have a confident expectation of a future reality. What realities are we confidently expecting? Certainly the reality of answered prayers, but more so the reality of eternal life. By offering up our prayers at mass, the priest takes our prayers to God and then God bestows upon us the grace of confidence that we will be brought into everlasting life. So to be a priest means to gather together all prayers, petitions, and supplications and present them to God as a sacrificial offering, then return to His people with hope of answered prayers and eternal life.

 Look to the Priest

About a year and a half ago I was reading a moral theology book (scintillating, I know) and it read that during times of politics and elections “look to the priest” for an example to follow. For the longest time I couldn’t quite wrap my mind around what point the author was trying to get at. Was he saying that we should vote like the priest votes? Was he naively implying that there are no politics involved within the church’s ministry? It wasn’t until I wrestled with this part of Lacordaire’s quote, until I thought about the relationship between prayer and hope that I came to have a better understanding. We look to the priest during these times because, following the example of Christ, they unreservedly and unbiasedly accept what we have and who we are and he, in turn, offers it to God. The priest then returns from God to give to the people His many graces and blessings, not the least of which is hope.

So no matter who you voted for, no matter who wins (or won at this point), no matter if you’re right or left, red or blue, a donkey or elephant, the priest, like Christ, will show no partiality in who they offer up to God or, in turn, who they give God’s gift of hope to. And so we shouldn’t either.