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By Father Thomas E. Langer

Priests are mystery men. They come in assorted sizes, ages, weights and collars. They are found everywhere – speeding along, perspiring over, walking by, kneeling on, praying over, laughing with, preaching to, teaching about, pardoning for, and playing baseball with. Little children run to them; teenagers marvel at them, aged folk turn to them; lay people treasure them; non-Catholics stare at them; and Mary watches over them.

A priest is Prudence in a T-shirt; Fortitude with a breviary in his hand; Justice on a ball diamond; and Temperance at any party. He is Faith with a blueprint; Hope with a sense of humor; and Charity with a golf club in hand.

A priest may be anything from a contemplative monk in a monastery to a magazine editor on Wall Street, from a labor mediator to a TV personality, from a student to a professor. Formerly known as the boy-around-the-corner, he's a member of each family, yet belongs to none. He penetrates secrets, shares sorrows, heals wounds. He has the trust of a child, the kindness of a best friend, the sternness of a tight-rope walker, the authority of an encyclopedia, the versatility of a commando, and the salesmanship of a Fuller-Brush man.

A priest is a humble creature – a mystifying worker at all professions. His hours are the longest; his salary the smallest; his Boss the best! He likes good pastors, the smiles of children, a good sermon, a home-cooked meal, and the name "Father".

A priest is all things to all men in the sight of God. He may be misquoted, mistaken and misunderstood, but he'll always forgive – because he's a mediator; a peacemaker, a go-between heaven and earth. It's no wonder God loves him. He's a man standing at an altar, clothed in Holy clothes, who while being aware of his own nothingness speaks to God for us and to us for God. And although his greatest act is to offer sacrifice, his most consoling one is to say to me, "Go in peace – Your sins are forgiven."

Originally published by Open Sunday Visitor, March 13, 1960.



O GOD, Who wills not the death of a sinner but rather that he be converted and live, grant we beseech. Thee through the intercession of the Blessed Mary, ever Virgin, and all the Saints, an increase of labors for Thy Church, fellow laborers with Christ, to spend and consume themselves for souls through the same Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the union of the Holy Spirit, world without end. Amen.

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