Learn about the daily, spiritual, pastoral, and social aspects of living out the priesthood.
Much of the priestly life revolves around people. There are no two days that are the same, but here is a glimpse of what a typical day could look like. The priest begins his day with morning prayer and Mass, and perhaps some office work. In the afternoon, he makes his visits. Then in the evening, after more prayer and supper, there is almost always some kind of parish meeting or prayer service.
The Mass is “the source and summit of the Christian life.” The Church encourages its priests to celebrate mass daily, even if the the faithful are not present. It is that act of Christ and the church in which priests fulfill their primary function.
Priests accompany people in very dramatic moments of their lives: the birth of a child, a wedding engagement, or even death. There is a saying, “What a person goes through in a lifetime, a priest goes through in a day.” It’s important for a priest to maintain a healthy prayer life to sustain himself in the midst of these emotional events.
Being a Priest is not a 9:00am – 5:00pm job. Parishes are not businesses with office hours. A priest is always a priest and always present. The priest is preeminently a man of sacrifice. Priests are called to be agents of mercy and compassion by bringing people to God and God to the people.
Just as it is important for a priest to make a self offering gift of service to his people, it is equally important for him to receive from the Lord. A priest cannot give what he does not have. Therefore, it is important for the priest to have an active spiritual life that is able to sustain him throughout his ministry.
The sacramental life of the Church extends itself in the role of the Priest. It is the priest, as a sharer in Christ’s priesthood, who is not only able to offer the Sacrifice of the Mass, but is also able to extend the healing mercy of God in the Sacraments of Penance and Anointing of the Sick. It is the priest, as a sharer in Christ’s prophetic mission, who is able to speak in the name of Christ and His Church by preaching and teaching. The indelible spiritual character of ordination enables and facilitates the priest’s responsibility in the sacramental mission of the Church.
The priest’s daily prayer focuses on both his personal needs as well as on his service to others. The promise to maintain and deepen a spirit of prayer specifically includes the promise to pray the Liturgy of the Hours. The Liturgy of the Hours,contained in a book more commonly referred to as the Breviary, is prayed five times a day, at different times. Thus, “by tradition going back to early Christian times, the divine office is devised so that the whole course of the day and night is made holy by the praises of God” (Vatican II, Sacrosanctum Concilium, 84).
Diocesan priests work hard and have very demanding schedules. Priests typically get one day off each week and have up to a month for annual vacation. It is also wise for them to have hobbies to turn to for relaxation in the course of a normal day of priestly work, just as they should find time for prayer.
Just as importantly, diocesan priests are asked to make an annual retreat in order to experience, in the calm and quiet of the retreat atmosphere, the loving presence of their Lord. These times of retreat are blessed times of spiritual renewal for the priest, just as they are for other believers.
While priests may have made a vow of celibacy, embracing the church as his “wife”, they are not without a family–their congregation of parishioners become that family. Priests often say that while they don’t have any children of their own, they feel full of paternal love because they are a father to all.