Dear Father by Catherine Doherty

Dear Father – A message of love for priests by Catherine Doherty is a fantastic book for all priests, men in discernment, and laity who have an appreciation for the priesthood. Her approach to the priesthood is bold, passionate, and full of love. I plan to read this book again as I progress in my discernment and eventually (God willing) become ordained a priest. (The following are quotes that I have found useful to pray and use for further study).

 

The call to priesthood

To be a priest is to be indeed called by God, for he says clearly, “I have chosen you; you have not chosen me.” Do you know what that means? It means that you will be all his, but that your life will be the loneliest lived on this earth, naturally speaking. You will know darkness as few people know it. Then you will be as one dead – a piece of clay – for the Master Sculptor to work his masterpiece in you. You will feel the touch of his divine fingers, pounding, molding, hurting the clay that is you. It will be God the Father making you unto the likeness of his Son, the Man of Sorrows.

Are you ready?

If you are, then yours will be the most glorious life ever lived! You will become a living symbol of God, not merely by your words, but by your entire life. You will be a sign of contradiction that will make men think and live. Loneliness will be your constant companion. Yet your presence will be a blessing to all, and will disperse loneliness in others. You will be all things to all men. You, like Christ, will be lifted up, for men to see and follow you. But you will not mind being crucified naked on a Cross, because Christ will be on the other side, and you will be lost in the ecstasy of being with him, of being his own.

 

Talk to us about God

Do you know the God who is beyond all study, beyond all approaches of the human mind? Have you opened that door? Have you come through it?

We hope for words that come from your heart because you have listened to his heart. Give us that knowledge of God which came to you when you were alone with him in his immense silence. Stand still before God so you can speak to us. Tell us stories as He did, the simpler the better.

 

Holocausts of love (the secret of chastity)

You are a sign of love. You must give it away abundantly. Love makes the slightest gesture beautiful and holy. The ability to love as Christ loves: that is the secret of chastity. Remember this when temptations against Love come to you, because that’s what they are: temptations against the incredible Love in which you are immersed by the sacrament of your ordination. You are a sign of hope wherever you go, but you lift men up to heights unknown when you are chaste.

 

Loneliness and priesthood

We all suffer from loneliness, one way or another. To begin with, we’re lonely because we’re separated from God, in a manner of speaking. Loneliness is a gift; it is God calling you to Himself. We are meant for God. Sooner or later in life we discover that there is in us a garden enclosed, an area of our being where no one can penetrate, a loneliness no one can fill, a longing no one can satisfy. This enclosure is for God. If you go into that garden you will hear the incredible sounds that seemingly only one man heard before, the heartbeats of God (Jn 13:25).

The only way to assuage loneliness is love. I think that God created loneliness in us so that we might seek beyond our friends, husbands, wives, or communities to enter into his real plan for us. When my loneliness shares the loneliness of Christ, then his peace invades me and we become one.

When will we understand that happiness lies in entering into his loneliness? There he will embrace you and console you, providing you accept to be nailed on the other side of his cross. If you do, you will know happiness because the cross is the marriage bed of Christ. Loneliness shared with Christ, with a deep understanding as to why you are sharing it, turns to joy.  The way to holiness is loneliness. Holiness is the forgetfulness of one’s self for others.

You answer nothing, Lord. Yet I hear the music of your silence, which sings in my soul.

 

Alter Christus – Another Christ

The tremendous powers you have are not for yourself. He gave them to you for us, for all people, for other priests, but especially for us, your flock. Do not try to bring us to yourself; bring us to God through yourself.

A priest is truly another Christ. To find Christ, a priest has only to take one step inward. Talk to us about the love of God. Talk to us about your love of God. We need you. Show us the way, but walk it with us; don’t just tell us how to walk it. Walk it, and we will follow you. Don’t just teach us verbally to do this or that. Do it! Show us! The most effective lesson is seeing the message lived.

Don’t try to give us what others can give us. Give us what nobody else can give us – give us God. For this you have been ordained, and for nothing else. When you give us God you give us love, a love that this world doesn’t know because it is God’s love.

 

Final prayer

Teach me Lord to be more empty. Teach me to love with your heart, more and more. My Jesus, give me the grace to understand this: “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul” (Mat 16:26). Make me realize very fully that the world has nothing to offer me. That I am here only to do thy will, which is my eternal salvation. Jesus! Give me the grace to see it. Also, give me the grace to do it. Give me ears that hear your knock, eyes that see you hand in all my life, grace to grasp the meaning of the invitation, and strength to go and do your command.

 

 

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