The Gift of the Priesthood
Why does a man choose to become a priest? Because he has fallen in love and has been called.
Pope John Paul II answered this question well:
I am often asked, especially by young people, why I became a priest. Maybe some of you would like to ask the same question. Let me try briefly to reply. I must begin by saying that it is impossible to explain entirely. For it remains a mystery, even to myself. How does one explain the ways of God? Yet, I know that, at a certain point in my life, I became convinced that Christ was saying to me what he had said to thousands before me: 'Come, follow me!' There was a clear sense that what I heard in my heart was no human voice, nor was it just an idea of my own. Christ was calling me to serve him as a priest.
This call that he felt was a call to love that many have heard: "'Simon, son of John, do you love me?' He said to him, 'Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.' He said to him, 'Tend my sheep'" (Jn. 21:16). So, the priest is not his own, but is Christ's. The priest is priest only because he has been configured to Christ, i.e. made like him, through the Sacrament of Holy Orders.
The priest is thus called to live his life as a response to Jesus' love, so that His love might continue to be tangible in the world. This is principally the case in the Sacraments where Jesus touches us and we are able to touch Him. The Sacraments are the powers that come forth from His Body and heal us (cf. Luke 5:17; CCC 1116).
The Eucharistic Sacrifice is the principle way in which Christ regularly gives Himself to us bodily and calls forth a response of love from us. Indeed, "This sacrifice is so decisive for the salvation of the human race that Jesus Christ offered it and returned to the Father only after he had left us a means of sharing in it as if we had been present there" (Ecclesia de Eucharistia 11). So it is that "unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you" (Jn. 6:53).
Fr. Jean-Baptiste Henri Lacordaire, O.P. described this call of God in practical terms:
To live in the midst of the world with no desire for its pleasures; to be a member of every family, yet belonging to none; to share all sufferings; to penetrate all secrets, to heal all wounds; to daily go from men to God to offer Him their homage and petitions; to return from God to men to bring them His pardon and hope; to have a heart of fire for charity and a heart of bronze for chastity; to bless and to be blest forever. O God, what a life, and it is yours, O Priest of Jesus Christ.
Let us give thanks for the gift of the priesthood and pray that God will send us more holy priests!