The Diary of a Country Priest by Georges Bernanos details a priest who, at a certain point, feels no presence of God, and in increasingly secularizing France, adults and children routinely mock him. In that context, God brings to him an elderly woman who lost her infant boy decades before and has wallowed in guilt, self-loathing, and hatred towards her family and neighbors ever since. This priest, in that moment, is given the words of the Holy Spirit—the message of surrender—and thus he leads her to an ultimate peace, and she dies soon after.
The priest comes away from this occasion shocked because of what he calls “the miracle of giving what I do not have.” Friends, I see this happen all the time, if with less drama. Bishop Walkowiak, when he ordained Fr.
Durkee and his classmates to the diaconate, reminded us all that we are “broken vessels.” He does not call the perfect “because then it would seem like God needs the perfect” to accomplish his work. God prefers
sinners, like his clergy, laity, and religious. Thus, the Lord says “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness,” and Paul continues “I will all the more gladly boast of my weakness that the
power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Cor. 12: 9).
My time in seminary and the parish has gone very smoothly, so that I cannot attempt to say how unworthy I am of my great progress in priestly formation. I cannot endeavor to characterize the pleasure of ministering
at Our Lady of Consolation. If you could see the scared 18-year-old who entered seminary just a few years ago and where I am today, your jaws would drop to the floor and bore a hole to China. I love my life, because God loves me even though I am such a damaged instrument.. I am living
evidence for the power of your prayers for priests and seminarians, friends and family.
Continue those prayers, and thank you for teaching me how to be a priest. I close my time here with Solomon’s words in our first reading today: “I am a mere youth, not knowing how to act. I serve you in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a people so vast that it cannot be numbered or measured. Give your servant, therefore, an understanding heart to judge your people and distinguish right from wrong” (1 Kings 3: 12).
With a promise of prayers,