Most likely every human being at some point in life, perhaps even frequently for long periods of time, feels deep within that God has forgotten us.

Our cry is never unheeded and always there will be those moments of sweetness when God who is Love speaks tenderly to the depths of our being, assuring us He is so close, keeps us so close, our very name is written upon the palm of His hand. [Is.49:14-16]

The name which He has written upon the palm of His hand is our real name. [Rv.2:17]

It is easy for our hearts to see Jesus in the Garden, in the intimate prayer for every soul offered by Him to the Father, raising His hands in the gesture of orans, and seeing on the palms of those Sacred Hands our true name.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches the truth about our real name, ‘the name one receives for eternity’, in paragraphs 2156 to 2159.

They are a beautiful source of meditation.

We, in the mystery of our divine election to this vocation of joy which is ours, receive not strictly speaking a new name but a defining indicator of our sacramental identity as shepherd and servant: Father!

We become priest and henceforth from the day of our ordination, thanks in large measure to the tender prayers of our people, with the intercessory help of Our Blessed Mother, and the lavishness of grace, struggle each day to truly become what we are.

A young priest came to speak with me the other day.

To use his own words he was ‘totally fragmented’.

He felt like bits and pieces of his self were scattered everywhere. The comfortable, secure, sense of wholeness, and budding holiness, of ‘completeness’, as he described it, had left him.

There were those days, weeks perhaps, immediately following his ordination when, as he said, ‘it seemed all was right with the world.’

Now all he seemed to experience each day was a relentless barrage of demands, criticisms from the laity, bad temper from the pastor, distractions in prayer, itself experienced as a burden, doubts about his vocation, and much, much more.

He ended with those words which most priests at some early juncture of our lives have been heard to utter: “Who knew being a priest contained so much suffering!”

Perhaps all of us are initially surprised to discover ordination is not some magic potion which removes the clay from our feet, the passions from our flesh, the distractions from our imaginations, and the need for approval from our emotional life.

Yet if we kneel beside and with Christ in the Garden, putting our face to the ground beside and with Him in offering to the Father, we would not be so surprised.

Jesus Christ, High Priest, is the One who offers.

Jesus Christ, High Priest, is the One who is offered.

So it is for we who are sacramentally in persona Christi.

The canticle from tonight’s Evening Prayer still sings in my heart as I compose these pages.

It is a canticle which consoles the heart of every priest if we would but take it to heart, for truly Jesus suffered not only for the collective ‘you’ St. Peter speaks of, but for the personal ‘you’, the ‘I’ and so ‘I’ am the one healed by His wounds. [1 Pt. 2:21-24]

This too is an example of divine intimacy with the entire human family, in particular for the baptized, even more deeply for priests.

We will frequently have great difficulty understanding and embracing the sacramental reality of being in persona Christi, as the one offering and being offered, if we are seduced by the modern relativism which leads to gross errors regarding the essential truth about the necessity of the sacramental priesthood for the entire human family: for the salvation of souls.

                                              Christ’s priesthood flowed from the paschal mystery. Our priesthood is not ours but His. We must therefore draw the most profound truth about life from Christ’s death and resurrection. “May He make us an everlasting gift pleasing to You.” (3rd Eucharistic Prayer): that is how we speak to the Creator, our Father, in the name of Christ and “in persona Christi”, and at the same time in the name of every creature. Because of its own meaning the priesthood will always contain within itself a profound “hermeneutics” of the mystery of the world and above all the “mystery of man”. Any world which sought to delete the priesthood from its structures would deny its own self, and above all would destroy human nature in its most essential aspect. [41]

We well know it is not only the secular world, the culture of darkness which seeks ‘to delete the priesthood from its structures’. There are those dioceses, parishes, religious communities which, sometimes openly, often under the guise of enhancing the role of the laity, are essentially deleting the sacramental priesthood from their structures.

Even many priests are caught up in this progressive deletion of their very own divine election.

This progressive deletion of the sacramental priesthood from life accounts in no small measure for the paradox of those who claim to be catholic while advocating the so-called ‘right to choose’ abortion, acceptance of homosexual practice, inter-communion without the prior true union of faith, etc.

It is even in seemingly small things, such as the refusal to wear proper clerical dress, or be called by our proper title of Father, that we become complicit in the process of deleting the sacramental priesthood from human life and become participants in the destruction of ‘human nature in its most essential aspect’. [Mk. 6:34]

The Good Shepherd, in whose person we are by ordination, instructs us to enter into intimacy with, Himself: ultimate experience of learning the depths of priesthood. [Mt.11:29]

We need to beg for the grace to be purified of the modernist notion of priesthood, which has prevailed since the late 1960’s. 

It is a notion which claims adherence to the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, though in reality betrays a total ignorance of the Council’s document on the priesthood and the subsequent teachings of Pope Paul VI, and most particularly, Pope John Paul II.

Indeed it denies over two millennia of orthodox teaching and tradition.

This modernist notion of the priesthood is based on a minimalist, and very limited, functionality and decries any attempts to adhere to a specific priestly spirituality.

It is a reductionist notion bandied about under the guise of enhancing the role of the laity in the life of the Church, but actually detracts from the laity’s vocation by a type of co-option into that which is reserved for the ordained priest alone.

The result is a progressive diminishment of both the lay and priestly vocations.

Returning to the story of that young priest who came to speak with me, what became clear was he was in a particular diocese where the bishop and majority of the priests were completely in bondage to the modernist, minimalist ideas of priesthood.

The Holy Spirit calls us to surrender to the yoke, meekness and humility of the Sacred Heart, the Priestly Heart.

A brother priest likes to repeat: “We must serve the Church as the Church wishes to be served.”

This is more than a deep spirit of obedience. It is a true spirit of humility.

Holy Mother the Church wishes first and foremost for we priests to serve her as true priests, true shepherds of the flock, in the full reality of our being in persona Christi.

In that, we shall, no matter the depths of our suffering or the intensity of the struggle to be faithful, experience the true joy of our vocation, a joy which will come to completeness within the core of our very being, a real participation in the joy of the Baptist. [Jn.3:29, 30]

The simplest way for us to decrease, so Christ increases in every human heart we serve, is for us to set aside personal notions of what priesthood ought to be and surrender, joyfully, to being hidden in the reality of what priesthood is, set forth by Holy Mother the Church as was given to Her by Christ Priest Himself.

What can it be that lurks behind these modernist notions about sacramental priesthood which defy the teaching of the Church and the absolute reality of the sacrament itself?


Sin expressed in our hearts as lack of faith, pride, and refusal to trust in the communion of love offered us by the Holy Trinity.

Sin, expressed as arrogance, anger, greed, and lust, and if not through sexual sin, certainly through other means of gratification.

In my interviews with laity, young, old, professional, working in factories, offices, on farms, believers and non-believers alike, I was struck by the common answer to my question: what most disturbed them about priests today?

I had expected they would address the issue of sexual scandal, extremes of so-called liberal or con Instead the most common issues which disturbed them were: priestly arrogance, refusal to be seen in clerical clothing, to be addressed as Father and a lifestyle deemed to be ‘high on the hog’?

Each priest has to look into his own heart to see clearly the root causes of his own sin, and confess the sins he commits.

Each priest has to embrace the reality that we are ‘vessels of clay’, and cry out constantly: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me a sinner.”

                                          Sin creates a proclivity to sin; it engenders vice by the repetition of the same acts. This results in perverse inclinations which cloud conscience and corrupt the concrete judgement of good and evil. Thus sin tends to reproduce itself and reinforce itself, but it cannot destroy the moral sense at its root. Vices can be classified according to the virtues they oppose, or also be linked to the capital sins which Christian experience has distinguished, following St. John Cassian and St. Gregory the Great. They are called ‘capital’ because they engender other sins, other vices. They are pride, avarice, envy, wrath, lust, gluttony, and sloth or acedia. [42]

The final stress in his suffering the young priest referred to spoke about was the pain caused him by the mouths of his brother priests. They had labeled him as rigid, conservative, ‘clerical’ in the most demeaning sense.

What struck my heart was that this young priest was orthodox in his faith, dressed in clerics, insisted he be called Father, was devoted to Our Blessed Mother, believed the truth about and was devoted to Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar, was loyal to the Holy Father, etc.

All those things deemed to be too ‘clerical’ by the modernists and minimalists.

That there was some rigidity about him was also true. Yet the rigidity was as much a defense against the disdain of his brother priests as it was to any degree a wound in his personality.

In my experience the fodder for clerical gossip, that most pernicious and destructive of priestly sins, is the individual priest’s bondage to one or more of the capital sins.

True, as vessels of clay, we will be constantly in the battle between sin and virtue, between truth-teaching and the struggle to live what we teach.

This is the reality of spiritual warfare within which each priest SHOULD be a good fighter.

It is when we, not just our people, have a cognitive disconnect which we fail to struggle to overcome that we become those who seek to delete the priesthood from humanity.

Disunity among the shepherds leaves the flock vulnerable to the wolves, for, obviously, if the shepherds are at war among themselves, who is there to guard the flock?

Satan is not only a liar and the father of lies; he is also the great distractor.

Perhaps he cannot distract us from Christ through our committing mortal sin. He certainly will attempt to distract us from Christ by enticing us into committing venial sins until our will is so weakened we do indeed turn completely away from Christ through mortal sin.

Anything: to disrupt the unity among us, which should be the hallmark of our love for one another.

Anything: to keep us from decreasing so Christ may increase.

There is a beautiful passage from St. Paul which is a template for daily meditation, an encouragement for us to struggle to become what we are, and to love our brothers in the priesthood: Col.3:1-11.

Christ IS everything!

When that young priest had finished speaking what came to my heart was pretty clear: he had if not forgotten, because of the stress and suffering he was enduring, at least was having difficulty trusting who he truly was in persona Christi.

The modernists attempt to delete the priesthood from humanity most ardently does so by a denial of the vital importance of our sacramental priesthood as a real presence in the lives of all our brothers and sisters.

The Servant of God, Catherine Doherty, in her book DEAR FATHER, pours forth from her own heart, on behalf of the laity, her passionate love for priests, her faith in the reality of sacramental priesthood.

Catherine speaks to the reality of joy in an entire chapter, posing a basic question to our hearts:

                                            Do you realize that you are a joy to the world? [43]

To which I would add this question: Do I strive to be a joy to my brother priests?

Catherine connects our capacity to trust the joy we are to others with our willingness to be and move rooted in the virtue of faith. Thus, towards the end of the chapter where she teaches on joy, Catherine recounts the healing of a sick child, whose mother accredited his healing to the prayers of a priest.

Catherine then concludes with words which have seared my heart when I would hear her speak, such words sear my heart still whenever I read them:

                                              I am almost afraid to say the next sentence, but I have to say it because it’s the truth: Do you have that kind of faith? Have you really looked at yourself and understood who you are? Oh, you might be Tom, Dick or Harry. You might be fat, thin, old or young. You can look in a mirror until the mirror falls down, but you will not see in a mirror who you really are. It’s when your eyes are turned to the heart of Christ, which is your real mirror, that you will see that you are another Christ, with all His powers, amongst them the power of giving hope, joy, faith and love. [44]

It is our sacramental duty to exercise lavishly ‘the power of giving hope, joy, faith and love’ to all our people.

However if we are to avoid in anyway deleting the priesthood from humanity we must also exercise lavishly our power to love one another as brothers in the priesthood. We too need hope, joy, faith and love in our lives. Who better to be vessels of such grace to a priest than a brother priest?

Again and again we cry out all day long, in the reality of ‘praying always’: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me a sinner.

Thus we beg the Holy Spirit to purify us of any and all things, choices, attitudes, sins which cause us to seek anywhere other than Christ the ‘everything’ our hearts have been created for.

It is a matter of embracing the cross, a willingness to be an offering, a victim, in imitation of Christ.

                                                       The priest is alter Christus and, like his divine Master, he must be a victim immolated to the glory of God, and delivered up for the salvation of souls…This is our program of sanctity…If we share in His priestly dignity, is it not right that we should take part in His oblation?….These, then, are our orders of the day: to follow Jesus in the absolute consecration of His life to the glory of the Father and to the salvation of  the world…We also at the altar present to God the whole course of our life, accepting it, loving it, dedicating it in the spirit of love to the cause of God and to the salvation of souls. Thus, by daily imitation of the offering of Jesus, it will be granted to us to enter, little by little, into the mysterious intimacy of the soul of the divine Master. [45]

Many, many years ago, when in fact I was a non-believer, I happened to be visiting a friend who worked in a charity hospital. One day my friend asked if I would go with them while they dropped off a message to their former pastor.

The pastor was a middle-aged priest who lived in the hospital.

I assumed he was living there as the chaplain.

In fact, and this really took me aback, he was living there permanently as a patient. He has been permanently disabled, in the physical sense, as a result of a car accident. The accident had occurred some ten years before the day I met him.

I understand now that this priest sensed immediately when I entered his hospital room, which was actually a ward and not a private room, that I was both uncomfortable in the presence of a priest and in the presence of a disabled person.

However he did not say anything directly to me until my friend and I were leaving.

At that point he said, with as I recall a true tenderness in his voice:

“A priest is not per se what a man does. Priest is who I am. I am a priest forever. Every priest is both the one who offers and the offering. It has pleased God to allow me truly to be a victim-priest. Life truly is beautiful and my life, well, it’s a real joy.”

Few of us are asked to embrace the mystery of being ‘ a victim immolated to the glory of God and delivered up for the salvation of souls’ to the extent of that particular brother of ours.

But the truth remains each of us is asked by the Holy Trinity, through the nitty-gritty reality of the duty of the moment of being priest, to embrace with joy being victim, oblation.

Mainly we are asked to be so in a manner which appears externally to be very ordinary, as the life of a priest goes, indeed. It is a blessed hiddenness which is a divine protection. In that ordinariness however we must strive for the ‘I’ to decrease so Christ increases.

Suffering then in all its dimensions should be a cherished companion of every priest.

For the young priest who came to speak with me that was my one word for him: become what you are.

Some of us will be asked to embrace even outrageously seeming, at least to the eyes of the world, perhaps even to our own emotions, immense depths of suffering. We may be invited to embrace immolation for the ‘glory of God and the salvation of souls’ a union with Christ in the mystery, for example, of the Tenth Station or the Eighth Beatitude.

We should not be afraid.

Christ is everything.

He is with us.

Any suffering we are invited to embrace is suffering for the salvation of souls, including our own.

It is part of the joy of our divine election to be one with Him in the vineyard during the heat of the day, in the Garden, on the Cross, even in the Tomb.

Christ’s love towards men was so great that not only was he willing to endure the most cruel sufferings for our salvation and an atrocious death on the Cross, but also He wished to nourish us eternally in the Sacrament of His Body and Blood…having loved His own beloved He loved them to the end…He instituted permanently His priesthood in the Catholic Church. He decreed that the same sacrifice He performed is…to remain until the consummation of the world. He decreed that it be renewed and take place daily by the ministry of the priesthood……

                                                       In the unbloody sacrifice of the Mass, celebrated by priests, the same life-giving Victim is offered up……No unworthiness or wickedness on the part of those offering it can ever defile this oblation. [46]

While we can be consoled by the truth that the effectiveness of what we celebrate does not depend on our state of holiness, or generosity, even our willingness, or lack thereof, to be a true victim, nonetheless how much more wonderful is it IF we strive, truly, to be full, complete, holy, willing oblation when we offer Holy Mass.

It is a matter of participating in the communion of love.

It is Christ’s love of the Father, and for us and for our salvation, which drives Him towards His Passion and Death.

The same love should drive us to ever more become what we are, in persona Christi, filled with the same passion for the Father and for the salvation of souls.

Such a passion fuels the fire of joy which burns within us as we love the Blessed Trinity, one another, and all our brothers and sisters, friends and enemies.

                                                      ….the Gospel insists especially on renouncing self, on accepting the Cross. Many were the crosses which presented themselves to the Cure of Ars in the course of his ministry: calumny on the part of the people, being misunderstood by an assistant priest or other confreres, contradictions, and also a mysterious struggle against the powers of hell, and sometimes even the temptation to despair in the midst of spiritual darkness. Nonetheless he did not content himself with just accepting these trials without complaining:  he went beyond them by mortification, imposing on himself continual fasts and many other rugged practices in order ‘to  reduce his body to servitude’, as Saint Paul says. But what we must see clearly in this penance, which our age unhappily has little taste for, are his motives: love of God and the conversion of sinners. Thus he asks a discouraged fellow priest: ‘You have prayed…, you have wept…, but have you fasted, have you kept vigil…?’ Here we are close to the warning of Jesus to the Apostles: ‘But this kind is cast out only by prayer and fasting. In a word, John Mary Vianney sanctified himself so as to be more able to sanctify others…..

                                                 Dear brother priests, let us not be afraid of this very personal commitment – marked by asceticism and inspired by love – which God asks of us for the proper exercise of our Priesthood…. ‘It seems…that in the difficulties of today God wishes to teach us more deeply the value, the importance and the central place of the Cross of Jesus Christ.’ In the priest, Christ relives His Passion, for the sake of souls. Let us give thanks to God who thus permits us to share in the Redemption, in our hearts and in our flesh! [47]



There is a cry and deep sorrow at the very center of our world. A sorrow: born of confusion, and abandonment. The cry is wrenched from the hearts of adults but is rooted in the hearts of children.

Someday a wise anthropologist, or someone versed in the human sciences, will do an in depth study of our culture of death and make the connection between the origins of this cry and deep sorrow. Perhaps then we will have a better understanding of the complexities of human intercourse which resulted in the 20th century being so soaked on every page of its history with the blood of the innocent. Perhaps then we will be able to come to grips with a generation or more of fatherless men, of boys growing up, in the words of Susan Faludi in her work: STIFFED, growing up in “…a culture that has them by the throat.”
The following statement is not offered in the remotest as an excuse for evil, simply as an observation: put an adult whose own experience of being fathered, being authentically masculine, was that of being father deprived, in close proximity to a child likewise starved for affirmation and completion as a male and you have a situation ready made for legions of demons to create the evil of abuse.
Place such an adult in any relationship and likewise chaos will result through domestic abuse, divorce, child abandonment, promiscuity, homosexuality, addictions of all kinds.
My purpose here is not to attempt to address the all too well known scandals among the clergy, the bitter attitudes towards men in general and priests in particular of some women, religious and laity alike, nor to debate with those whose particular agenda of chaos co-operates in things like the promotion of homosexual and abortion agendas. {Interesting how frequently those issues find companionship.}
Rather it is to suggest we have a model of manhood and an intercessor for all fatherless adults and children alike in good Saint Joseph.
To the point he is the model of priestly manhood and fatherhood.
Given the simple reality that many men entering the seminary these days do so without their virginity intact we must do everything possible to enable them to have their virginity restored to them through a deep healing of memories, the transformation of their inner selves, and a true openness to, acceptance of, that most manly of virtues: chastity.
Chastity: as a charism of our divine election.
Chastity: as a living witness to the Kingdom.
Chastity: too as the purifying of our hearts that we may be true fathers to all whom we serve.
                                                 The spiritual formation of one who is called to live celibacy should pay particular attention to the future priest so that he may know, appreciate, love and live celibacy according to its true nature and according to its real purposes, that is for evangelical, spiritual and pastoral motives………priestly celibacy….is profoundly connected with ordination, whereby a man takes on the likeness of Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd and Spouse of the Church, and therefore as a choice of a greater and undivided love for Christ and His Church, as a full and joyful availability of his heart for pastoral ministry…the priest…as he witnesses to the evangelical value of virginity…will be able to aid Christian spouses to live fully the ‘great sacrament’ of the love of Christ the Bridegroom for His Spouse the Church, just as his own faithfulness to celibacy will help them to be faithful to each other as husband and wife. [30]
Such a clear teaching and invitation is based on the assumption that it is a whole man, a real man, a person comfortable in his skin as a man, who embraces the chaste life of our divine election.
In our culture, however, we have seen a progressive denigration of that which the Father has created man: that is the human person, in the God created beauty and dignity of an equality of person which flowers in the diversity of some persons being created male and some persons being created female.
Not here the place to explore any further the sheer idiotic stance of those who pretend there is anything right in debasing either gender, much less in those futile and sacrilegious continuing efforts, in particular, to un-male or un-female children to the point of making adults who are so totally confused about gender they no longer even know they are persons.
Here is the place for affirmation of our manhood taken on by the Holy Spirit at ordination and restored to us in the sacrament as consecrated manhood: priesthood.
Each person, each male his maleness and each female her femaleness, sanctified at Baptism.
We priests have our maleness consecrated at ordination.
Therefore we cannot participate in any impurity of thought, word, deed, action, in heterosexual or homosexual activity, participation in any cause which diminishes the human person, especially not in any form of exploitation of the young or the vulnerable, nor in any cause which advocates the denigration of any human person. Rather as true fathers we are to be the prime protectors of every human person from the moment of their conception until natural death.
We are irrevocably and indisputably the protectors of the domestic church, proclaimers of the Gospel of Life, defenders of the human person, especially in those stages of life – it’s very beginning and natural end, its childhood and old age, its times of sickness or weakness – when life is most vulnerable.
To do less is to betray our male personhood and the priesthood of Jesus Christ.
Bl. Pope John Paul II placed before all men, and for priests most necessarily, Saint Joseph as a model of true manhood, true fidelity to all that is most holy in masculinity.
Saint Joseph is a powerful intercessor for us as we seek to be whole and holy as male persons, mature men with childlike hearts as priests who are at one and the same time son of the Father, father to all our brothers and sisters in Christ, brother to all the children of the Father, through the activity of the Holy Spirit within us by our sacramental ordination, in persona Christi capitis.
Commenting on the visit of the Angel to St. Joseph [Mt.1:20, 21] Pope John Paul notes:
                                                       The divine messenger introduces Joseph to the mystery of Mary’s motherhood. [31a]
It follows quite simply then none is better than Joseph to introduce we priests to, and teach us about, Our Blessed Mother, Queen of the Clergy, than this model of manhood. Indeed since St. Joseph is also the Universal Protector of the Church, who better to enliven in our priestly hearts a profound love, respect, and devoted service to, Holy Mother the Church?
                                                  It is to Joseph, then, that the messenger turns, entrusting to him the responsibilities of an earthly father with regard to Mary’s son…he became a unique guardian of the mystery…Together with Mary, Joseph is the first guardian of this divine mystery….Joseph’s way of faith… was totally determined by the same mystery of which he, together with Mary, had been the first guardian. [31b]
This is our vocation, to be protectors of the sacred as well as ministers of sacrament.
This requires we be real men, holy men, and fatherly men. Men capable of a husband’s and father’s, of a whole, holy man’s strength, courage, tenderness, love, wisdom, and generosity to provide for and protect those confided to our care by the same Heavenly Father who confided the Child and His Mother to the care of St. Joseph.
Our priestly vocation is an entrustment by the Most Holy Trinity, to our care, of countless immortal souls.
Our work is the salvation of souls.
                                                        Saint Joseph was called by God to serve the person and mission of Jesus directly through the exercise of his fatherhood. [31c]
That is an absolute truth which we should keep within our hearts as a template of our priestly lives.
We have been ordained to serve the person and mission of Christ with the fatherly care of our own hearts: Christ in the Church, Christ in all our brothers and sisters, in particular those whose material or spiritual lives are marked by such suffering they are deemed poor.
Being father, exercising holy fatherhood, is constitutive of our divine election.
Reluctance to being addressed as Father is a serious denial of sacramental reality and a gross lack of humility.
                                                       Joseph showed Jesus ‘by a special gift from heaven, all the natural love, all the affectionate solicitude that a Father’s heart can know.’ [31d]
Thus we are to love all those whom we serve.
Besides being a model of manly fortitude, solicitude, fatherhood and as a husband for us, St. Joseph is also a model of all the virtues, in particular chastity, humility, fidelity and absolute trust in Divine Providence, all essential in the life of a priest.
                                                      The total sacrifice, whereby Joseph surrendered his whole existence to the demands of the Messiah’s coming into his home, becomes understandable only in the light of his profound interior life. It was from this interior life that ‘ very singular commands and consolations came, bringing him also the logic and strength that belong to simple and clear souls, and giving him the power of making great decisions – such as the decision to put his liberty immediately at the disposition of the divine designs, to make over to them also his legitimate human calling, his conjugal happiness, to accept the conditions, the responsibility and the burden of a family, but, through an incomparable original love, to renounce that natural conjugal love that is the foundation and nourishment of the family.’
                                                       This submission to God, this readiness of will to dedicate oneself to all that serves Him, is really nothing less than that exercise of devotion which constitutes one expression of the virtue of religion. [31e]
Saint Joseph in all his manhood is the model for priests!
Fidelity is the day to day, moment by moment, willingness to give ourselves as gift.
This exercise of devotion, which is an expression of the virtue of religion, is predicated on joyful acceptance of reality: our vocation of joy is the vocation of communion of love with the Blessed Trinity.
Once again, naturally enough, we come face to face with a simple fact: we need faith!
Faith is a gift. 
This we know.
Increase of faith is a gift we must ask for.
The faithful St. Joseph will intercede on our behalf for a constant increase in this gift of faith if we, man to man, ask him.
Our joy in seeking Christ alone is that we might do all that which is pleasing to Him, the Father, the Holy Spirit, never forgetting the key to rejoicing the heart of God is faith! [Hb.11:6]
Because of the pulverization of our true understanding of self as a male person and living out of that gift, a pulverization inflicted upon us by the culture of death, we too, even as adult men, can be burdened by the sorrow(s) so common among our brothers, the widowers, grandfathers, fathers, husbands, uncles, brothers, sons: Christ’s faithful laymen in the world.
There seems to be, frankly, to a very dangerous degree – dangerous for the faith, the Church, for the vulnerable, especially for the unborn and those weak in anyway, for women and children in particular – such a lack of mature holy manliness among bishops and priests in our day that perhaps this is why a bishop and priest like Bl. Pope John Paul II was seen as such a sign of contradiction.
When bishops and priests surrender their vocation as men, as fathers, to the demands of those persons, mostly women but also many wounded men, who demand what amounts to a weak, indecisive, veritable androgynous presbyterate, truly when the Lord looks down upon our world His Sacred Heart must bleed again and He must again cry out to the Father: “Father, have pity on Your flock, for they are wandering about, sheep without shepherds, children without fathers!”
                                                  In our contemporary confusion we often overlook the meaning of Christ’s Incarnation for sexuality and gender. Human nature is sexual, and so the assumption of human nature by God would necessarily involve gender as well. Jesus’ gender expresses His identity and His mission. Jesus Christ was, and is, and will always be human. And His maleness is not an accident of history; it has important purpose in God’s plan.
                                                  The entrance of Jesus Christ into the human scene draws upon the Old Testament Image of God as a faithful, forgiving bridegroom and makes it concrete…..Men themselves are called to imitate Him precisely as a man…..Christ teaches us how to be men, good sons of the heavenly Father. A man has only to look upon Christ to see himself as God intends. [32]
                                                   On the mountain of the Transfiguration, God speaks from the cloud, as He had done on Sinai. But now He says: ‘This is my Beloved Son; listen to Him’ (Mk.9:7). He commands us to listen to His Son, because ‘no one knows the Father except the son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal Him’ (Mt.11:27). And so we learn that the true name of God is FATHER! The name which is beyond all other names Abba! (cf.Gal.4:6) [33]
Perhaps no other area has been such a deep cesspool of anti-Christ distortion of truth, denial of the truth about self and priesthood, refusal to humbly accept the truth than the area of debate, no now longer possible without engaging in lie and disobedience if prompting the matter, than the issue of women and the sacrament of orders.                                                       
The cognitive dissonance common among the laity, leading many to be cafeteria Catholics, finds its counterpart among those priests and religious who, regardless of the simple truth it is NOT within the competence of the Church to do so, insist the sacrament of orders be attempted upon women. 
Love and truth are inseparable.
Love is never interested in self.
Love is always servant of the other.
                                                                 Priestly ordination, which hands on the office entrusted by Christ to His Apostles of teaching, sanctifying and governing the faithful, has in the Catholic Church from the beginning always been reserved to men alone. This tradition has also been faithfully maintained by the Oriental Churches…..Pope Paul VI, out of fidelity to his office of safeguarding the Apostolic Tradition…reminded…[us]…of the position of the Catholic Church: “She holds that it is not admissible to ordain women to the priesthood, for very fundamental reasons. These reasons include: the examples recorded in the Sacred Scriptures of Christ choosing His Apostles only from among men; the constant practice of the Church, which has imitated Christ in choosing men only; and her living teaching authority which has consistently held that the exclusion of women from the priesthood is in accordance with God’s plan for His Church.”….the Church “does not consider herself authorized to admit women to priestly ordination”…Christ’s way of acting did not proceed from sociological or cultural motives peculiar to His time….”…in giving the Church her fundamental constitution, her theological anthropology – thereafter always followed by the Church’s tradition – Christ established things in this way.”….”In calling men only as His Apostles, Christ acted in a completely free and sovereign manner. In doing so, He emphasized the dignity and vocation of women, without conforming to the prevailing customs and to the traditions sanctioned by the legislation of the time.” In fact the Gospels and Acts of the Apostles attest that this call was made in accordance with God’s eternal plan; Christ choose those whom He willed (cf.Mk.3:13-14; Jn.6:70), and He did so in union with the Father, “through the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:2), after having spent the night in prayer (cf.Lk.6:12)…the fact that the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and Mother of the Church, received neither the  mission proper to the Apostles nor the ministerial priesthood clearly shows that the non-admission of women to priestly ordination cannot mean that women are of lessor dignity, nor can it be construed as discrimination against them. Rather, it is to be seen as the faithful observance of a plan ascribed to the wisdom of the Lord of the universe…………
                                             …..in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church’s divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf.Lk.22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful. [34]
As regards that last paragraph, the solemn definitive word of Peter, we priests, especially if we have been pulverized into saying or doing anything to the contrary  must beg for the grace of love’s truth speaking courage and the grace to take deeply into our hearts this definitive teaching of the Holy Father:
                                                            With divine and Catholic faith is to be believed everything contained in the word of God, written and in Tradition, that is to say, in the unique deposit of faith entrusted to the Church, and proposed as divinely revealed, whether by the solemn magisterium of the Church or by her ordinary and universal magisterium, or which is manifested in the common adherence of the faithful under the guidance of the sacred magisterium: all these are to be held and any teachings to the contrary are to be avoided.
                                                          Each and everything concerning faith and morals which is definitively taught by the magisterium of the Church must be firmly embraced and held, that is, whatever is needed to defend and explain the same deposit of faith in a faithful and holy manner; therefore whoever refuses to accept such definitive propositions is opposed to the teachings of the Catholic Church. [Canon 750 as amended in 1998 by the document Ad Tuendam Fidem]
As we seek to enter ever more deeply into communion of love with the Blessed Trinity, to become ever more engaged in our consecration as men endowed with the virtue of religion, sons of the Father, priests in persona Christi capitis, shepherds, fathers, teachers led by the Holy Spirit, we must enter more fully into union with Christ the man, the obedient son of the Father.
It is to journey, with steadfastness and honour, the pilgrim’s way.
Fidelity to our reality of being male persons, in the whole and holy authentic truth of this reality; fidelity to being and willing to be called that which we are, Father; fidelity to only teaching, shepherding only by, truth and truth-speaking in love; fidelity to being, often, pulverized by a culture of death which in general, and often in particular from both lay and religious women who carry the burden of much pain which is reality based, and much which is rooted in the culture of lies, as a willingness to be vessels of compassion, all this is fidelity to being in persona Christi.
Sometimes true love means uttering a simple truth word: no!
No, even though your pain is real and immense and perhaps makes it very difficult indeed, beloved sister and daughter, to understand equality of person does not mean sameness of sacramental vocation, I will not pretend to love you by telling you lies about contraception, abortion or sacrament.
No, even though your pain is real and immense and perhaps my truth-speaking will become the excuse you seek to leave the Church, no I will not pretend to love you by telling a lie such as ‘definitive’ teaching means only until the ‘next’ pope…for there is never, in reality, a ‘next’ pope, simply another priest is called to be Peter.
No, even though your pain is real and immense and perhaps my truth-speaking by simply being a male person is experienced by you as the reawakening of every hurt ever inflicted upon you in reality, or upon your sisters throughout history, and made worse by those whose agenda often distorts the truth of such things, I will not pretend to love you by telling the lie of denial about my gender, nor about the sacramental reality of priesthood which makes me, even more than by being a human male person, even more than through baptism, your brother and thus you my beloved sister, and, as priest you my beloved daughter and I your father-shepherd, teacher and servant.
                                                      The example of dedicated clerics is the best inspiration for the faithful….It is better to have a few ministers who are upright and effective than many who labor in vain to build up the Church. [35]
                                                      ….by presenting the word of truth properly and by preaching not themselves but Christ crucified, they should clearly proclaim in their preaching the tenets and precepts of our most holy religion in accordance with the teaching of the Catholic Church and the Fathers. [36]
Love costs.
It costs the life of Love Himself upon the Cross.
Can we priests love anyone any less?
In the Litany of Saint Joseph, after praising him, as most just, chaste, etc., and most faithful, among the other titles listed is: terror of demons.
The holy man noted earlier in the Litany as being strong, obedient and faithful, is also the terror of demons.
When we, as true holy men, as priests, are by grace also strong, obedient and faithful we too shall be a source of terror for demons, in particular those demons of the culture of death.
Likewise when the Litany notes that St. Joseph is the mirror of patience, guardian of virgins, pillar of families, solace of the wretched, hope of the sick and, as patron a comfort to the dying, are not all these manly virtues also aspects of our divine election, our priestly vocation of service?
To become ever more completely that which we are, by gender, baptism and ordination, we must, like St. Joseph the good and just man before us, constantly be attentive to the movement of the Holy Spirit within our beings. 
The Sanctifier at work within us, calling us to ever more complete abandonment to Divine Providence, ever deeper metanoia, that total kenosis where nothing remains in or about us but Christ.
Though not mentioned specifically in the Litany as one of his titles St. Joseph, like every saint, can be turned to as patron of joy!
A significant aspect of interior joy, itself a virtue and gift of the Holy Spirit, is the joy of repentance, of confessing our failure to be faithful and, through the actual grace of each duty of the moment, and when needed, the sanctifying grace of absolution in the sacrament of confession, beginning in Him each moment, again and again and again.
Even the secular world is full of expressions about it ‘taking a real man to admit he’s made a mistake’ etc., how much more then is it a reality of manhood to come to Christ for forgiveness.
It is at one and the same time to be a man, like St. Joseph, of courage and humility.
Indeed there is a direct connection between the frequency, or not, of our being priest-penitents and the frequency, or not, of our being available, like our patron St. John Marie Vianney, examples such as St. Padre Pio, for all those seeking sacramental absolution.
In the Holy Gospel according to St. Luke, in chapter 15, we discover three remarkable teachings from Jesus where He reveals again the Father’s utter love for us, how He welcomes with joy those who return to Him.
We return to the Father because Christ has found us.
We return most fully through the reality of sacramental absolution – through being on our knees as one admitting our need of God and of Divine Mercy.
There is no greater antidote to the arrogance of the culture of death, nor to the, even among we priests, cognitive disconnect between orthodox teaching and the way we tend to do things, than to open wide the doors, of our being, in particular through sacramental confession, to Jesus’ own words imploring us to always be one with Him. [Jn4:5]
The fidelity of which St. Joseph is our patron and model was not for him, nor is it for we priests, primarily a matter of ‘doing’ what needs be done, as important as that is.
Fidelity of the true and sacred kind, which implies explicitly the nitty-gritty doing well of the duty of the moment, is first of all a matter of ‘being’: being totally trusting of, and abandoned to, the love and will of the Father for us.
It is impossible to do that act of abandonment without humility and it is well-nigh impossible to be humble without admittance, like the man at the back of the temple, that I am a sinner constantly in need of Divine Mercy.
Thus when Jesus speaks about the reality of what transpires when a sinner opens wide the doors of their being to repentance and forgiveness, He is also teaching about fidelity. [cf.Lk.15]
There is no doubt in my heart about the direct connection between the apparent joylessness in the lives of so many priests and the lack of priests being truly repentant and going humbly to a brother priest for sacramental confession and absolution.
My heart also suspects far fewer of our good Catholic people would abandon their Catholic faith in search of the so-called evangelical experience if they were granted more joy in their lives through being able to receive sacramental absolution.
Indeed we will never turn things around when it comes to men saying yes to divine election, to re-evangelizing the fallen away, evangelizing those not yet in the fullness of true faith, unless we rediscover the importance and reality of sacramental confession, absolution, in a word unless we repent.
Fidelity must always begin with repentance.
We are not always faithful.
We need to not only admit this to ourselves but to confess this in sacramental confession.
Even if our infidelity is ‘venial’ it remains an aspect of our hearts to which we refuse the gift of mentanoia, a door of our being we keep shut to Christ.
If our infidelity involves mortal sin then, of course, there is no option but sacramental absolution.
Here, through the treasure of St. Joseph as our patron and model of holy manhood we also imitate him in the mystery of holy fatherhood in our vocation of joy as priests.
There is within the exercise of our sacramental authority to absolve from sin, and to deliver from demons for which we should be an absolute terror, another truth on fatherhood:
                                                        As the steward of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, the priest fulfills the command given by Christ to the Apostles after His Resurrection: “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (Jn.20:22-23). The priest is the witness and instrument of divine mercy! How important in his life is the ministry of the confessional! It is in the confessional that his spiritual fatherhood is realized in the fullest way. It is in the confessional that every priest becomes a witness of the great miracles which divine mercy works in souls which receive the grace of conversion. It is necessary, however, that every priest at the service of his brothers and sisters in the confessional should experience this same divine mercy by going regularly to confession himself and by receiving spiritual direction.
                                                  As a steward of God’s mysteries, the priest is a special witness to the Invisible in the world. For he is a steward of invisible and priceless treasures belonging to the spiritual and supernatural order. [37]
Saint Joseph is the patron of the interior life, having lived and served the person and mission of Christ with fidelity, courage, strength, obedience, selflessness and humility.
While being the teacher of Christ in the ways of a man’s life on earth St. Joseph was undoubtedly also a ‘student’ at the feet of the Master, learning communion of love with the Father.
This is the essence of spiritual direction for us as priests: to learn what we must teach.
To learn: that we are beloved that we might love.
To learn: truth that we might be truth-speakers.
Recently a brother priest described to me within him a growing hunger to be truly faithful. He begged me to pray he be granted the grace of perseverance.
I was deeply moved.
This priest is my senior by many decades in age and many decades, over sixty, of service to the Church and Her children. He is exemplary in his faith, courage, humility, selflessness, manhood as brother and father.
He is a true priest.
Yet here he was humbly revealing his heart to me, a heart acutely aware fidelity is a grace given, never presumed. A heart fully aware we are indeed but weak vessels of clay, always in need of repentance, always in each moment needing to begin again in Him.
Another reality which struck my heart as I listened to this good and humble priest was his clear awareness we have not been created primarily, nor ordained primarily, to do great things but rather to rejoice we are greatly beloved and to greatly love.
We are called first to be faithful to Someone.
It is through fidelity to the One who loves us so we are urged on by grace to be faithful in all else.
                                                        The response to the divine call is an answer of love to the love which Christ has shown us so sublimely. This response is included in the mystery of that special love for souls who have accepted His most urgent appeals. With a divine force, grace increases the longings of love. And love, when it is genuine, is all-embracing, stable and lasting, an irresistible spur to all forms of heroism. [38]
We know it is through the grace of divine election that we have been called.
Through ordination we have been consecrated.
The desire to be always filled with the grace of ever more complete self-gift to the Church and to all people as servants and heralds of the Gospel is itself the ever more ardent yearning, the ‘longings of love’ which within us become that ‘irresistible spur to all forms of heroism’.
Fidelity is heroic, for spouses, parents, religious, priests.
Fidelity is heroic especially in our day when we witness to the Gospel of Life in the darkness of the culture of death.
Fidelity is that manly heroic courage lived at a time when both as men and as priests we are pulverized from all sides, often simply because we are men, because we are priests.
Here too we turn to the good Saint Joseph as our model and patron, for he carried within his very being the history of a pulverized people, a history marked by deliverance as well. 
In his own life St. Joseph suffered much but was also faithful to his vocation of being both spouse and protector of his wife Mary and foster-father and protector of the Child Jesus.
We men who are priests are likewise called to embrace, with courage, the mystery of suffering, the blessedness of suffering. Likewise are we called to be faithful to our spouse the Church and to be Her protector, protectors of all that is sacred. We too are called to be father and protector of the Child Jesus: Christ who comes to us as every man, woman and child on the face of the earth.
No human being should be an orphan of our priestly, fatherly, manly hearts.
Because the reality of our very existence, essence of being, is that we are beloved of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, fidelity is our response to this communion of love, to love Himself.
We need constantly to remember, in the depths of our being and by the way we live and move and have our being in Him, that we are greatly loved and therefore, with joy, is our vocation to love greatly.
Through the intercession of St. Joseph we will be granted the grace to always remember it is in and through Christ that we are in relationship with the Father; our lives are for being in relationship with Christ, seeking and doing only the things of Christ; the Spirit is always at work within us to sanctify us and through us to sanctify all those whose lives we touch, most especially through the celebration of Holy Mass and the sacrament of Reconciliation. [Jn.14:26]
We are in relationship through our very creation by Him, in the inexhaustible reality of baptism, that lavish outpouring of the Holy Spirit configuring us to Christ in His death and resurrection, and for us priests in the incomprehensible reality of intimacy through sacramental ordination in persona Christi capitis!
Our relationship is communion of love with Infinite of Infinite Love Himself! [Jn. 1:29, 36]
St. John also notes Jesus is in motion, coming toward, as He does within us, towards us, every moment of our life. [ibid: 29, 26]
How the heart of St. Joseph must naturally have pounded with the pride of a father every time he saw Jesus coming towards him and how the soul of Joseph must have leapt with joy every time he saw Jesus coming towards him.
Jesus comes towards us in every moment of our lives too.
Likewise St. Joseph must have watched Jesus every time He walked by, that is, contemplate Jesus moving about in every moment of his life.
Jesus walks about in every moment of our lives too, thus every moment is a moment of contemplation in love.
So overtaken by the beauty of Christ, the holy allure if you will of Christ, the fire of His love radiating from His Holy Face, those eyes revealing the love of the Father that His disciples couldn’t bear being separated from Him and cried out to know where He dwelt. [ibid: 38]
Should not our manly, priestly hearts likewise yearn to ask Him that question which is simply the cry of a heart yearning to be in communion of love?
Love’s invitation to intimacy is given, inviting us to ‘come and see.’
Always Love gives us freedom.
We are free to follow Him, or not.
Yet the essence of fidelity is to choose to always be inclined towards Christ, to follow Him; being always with Christ wherever He is in the moment.
Where is Christ in this moment?
Awaiting us precisely, where the Father wills us to be.
The place where Jesus dwells is there.
It is to be one with Him in that place He invites us to when He says: ‘come and you will see.’
Only when we follow Him, as St. Joseph did, into the reality, mystery, grace, of each moment, through fidelity to what the Servant of God, Catherine Doherty rightly named: the duty of the moment -–will we dwell truly, live and move and have our being completely, in Him, with Him, through Him, for Him!
Then all that we hunger for, seek, do, will be in accord with the fullness of our baptismal and priestly vocation.
Then, like our model and patron St. Joseph, will we be true whole and holy men.
Then, in the reality of being in persona Christi, will we know joy! [Jn.4:34; 5:30; 6:38; 14:9-11]
Fidelity is being in relationship with the Father in the place, manner, of Christ’s own relationship with the Father.
While this is true for all the baptized, its particular emphasis in our priestly lives is precisely rooted in the reality of our being consecrated by sacrament in persona Christi.
Our divine election assures us of the needed sanctifying grace of fidelity, in Christ to the Father by the action of the Holy Spirit.
Our fidelity is within the reality of communion of love with the Holy Trinity.
As the courageous and humble man chosen to be the earthly father-protector of the Child and His Mother, we too must strive to be faithful in the reality of every moment wherein Christ is always ‘walking towards us’:
                                                      …..you are always and everywhere the bearers of your particular vocation; you are the bearers of the grace of Christ, the eternal Priest, and bearers of the charism of the Good Shepherd. And this you can never forget; this you can never renounce; this you must put into practice at every moment, in every place and in every way. [39]
It is when we choose, or attempt to, as it were, deny for the purpose of some form of self-indulgence or lack of truth-speaking courage, to be unmanly that we at the same time choose to forget who we are as priests.
This is when fidelity itself becomes unbearable.
The first aspect of fidelity which suffers frequently is our being visible, hence the roman collar goes; then proper ritual fidelity, followed by a less and less willingness to remain steadfast in the confessional, all the while our interior life unravels.
Ultimately, unless we repent, unless through the grace of conversion in the sacrament of reconciliation where we fall on our knees confident in the gift of Divine Mercy through absolution and the grace of every moment in Him being the moment of beginning again, all will be lost.
Saint Joseph, even before the Angel was sent to affirm the choice of his heart, a selfless, manly, loving choice, was faithful. [cf. Mt.1: 18ff.]
St. Joseph was the first ‘steward’ of the Treasury of Grace Who dwells among us into the world!
                                                      As a steward of these treasures, the priest is always in special contact with the holiness of God…..in the priesthood a man is as it were raised up to the sphere of this holiness…At the same time, the priest experiences daily and continually the descent of God’s holiness upon man….[40]
This is the greater truth, the greater reality.
Though we may live at a time when we are pulverized by the culture of anger, blame and death which surrounds us, pulverized because we are male, because we are priest, it is a little thing to suffer for and with Christ.
St. Joseph suffered and remained faithful and chose the path of love, before he was ever consoled by the angel.
Dare we be less of a man than Joseph?
Dare we love less?
St. Joseph is our dear heavenly companion, our heavenly brother, patron, protector, model of all the manly virtues essential to priestly fidelity. He also is a living witness to the joy of complete self-gift which is also the reality of our priestly vocation. [Jn.15:12, 13]