Noblesse Oblige! He never forgets: Children want to be able to follow their Father
“What” wrote Peter de Blois, “will a layman do but what he has seen done by his spiritual father?” The priest must shoulder manfully the heavy responsibility he bears towards all those in his care. Like Saint Paul he has to be able to say to them: “Though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. I urge you then, be imitators of me.” (1 Cor 4:15-16).
Only by acquiring the strengths of a father does one become an authentic father. Accordingly, what Saint Paul urged upon Saint Timothy is relevant for all priests: “Be an example to all the believers in the way you speak and behave,and in your love, your faith and your purity. In this way you will save both yourself and those who listen to you.” (1 Tim 4:12,16)
From the moment you enter the seminary and certainly from the moment you put on the uniform, you are no longer a private person. Like it or not, people look on you as a representative of the Church: indeed for many non-Catholics and uncatechized Catholics, priests are essentially the Church! For them you can become a signpost provoking the beginnings of a conversion in the measure in which you “let your light shine before men so that seeing your good works they will be led to glorify your father in Heaven”(Mt.5:16)
This starts with the “visibles” of uniform, speech and way of dealing with others; it continues with the example of focus, prayer and dignity in the sacred liturgy motivated by the alertness to the fact that as the people see the priest praying, they often pray.
All this from an officer’s sense of duty and a father’s sense of responsibility for his children.