Those who know me are well aware of the fact that I am not a reader. At least, not as much of a reader as many of my family members and friends. Until now. My love of the priesthood and priestly vocations, coupled with the launch of Vocation Boom, have compelled me to take up reading and learning all I can about the holy priesthood. All I can say is “Wow! What an incredible gift Jesus has given to his Church in the continuation of his ministry through our priests!”
It’s not that I had no understanding at all of the nature of holy orders before now. After all, I have a degree in philosophy and theology, spent six years in formation for the priesthood, and hosted the radio program Catholic Answers Live for over ten years. But to drill down into the deeper realities associated with the priesthood is simultaneously eye-opening and glorious.
Two of the books I’ve recently read I highly recommend to anyone who truly wants a glimpse inside the beauty and dignity that is the Catholic priesthood. One is Reclaiming Our Priestly Character by Fr. David Toups, published by the Institute for Priestly Formation. Fr. Toups is the immediate past Executive Director of the USCCB Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life, and Vocations, and now pastor of Christ the King Catholic Church in Tampa, Florida. In this easy to read work, Fr. Toups examines the permanent “mark,” or “character,” that is imprinted on the soul of a man when he is ordained. This mark, or character, is what transforms a man’s soul to be like Christ in such an intimate way that he is empowered to do many of the things that only Jesus, as God, can do - turn ordinary bread and wine into our Lord’s Body and Blood, forgive our sins, and so forth.
The book I’m currently reading is About Being a Priest by Fr. Federico Suarez, another tremendous look inside the dignity and duties of the priesthood. Fr. Suarez provides a fairly thorough look at the priest’s place in the Church and in the world, the importance of his faithful preaching and administration of the sacraments, keys to solid training of priests, where a priest can turn for ongoing strength and support, methods for priests to develop their spiritual lives, and more. The only challenge I am facing with this book is that what I’ve read so far is almost all marked with my yellow highlighter.
Of course, there are many, many more titles available to anyone who wishes to gain a better understanding and love of the priesthood. I can’t wait to move on to the next one!