When I was a teenager I used to ask God to give me a good wife. (Yes I have to admit that even as a teenager I prayed—how embarrassing!) It was a sincere request that I find someone to be happy with for the rest of my life.
I am now a Roman Catholic diocesan priest. Generally, we don’t marry and promise celibacy. Did God not answer my prayer? I’ll let you be the judge.
I was warned by many people to be careful of what I ask for in prayer—I might get it. Remember I asked for a good wife while at the same time I felt called by God to priesthood.
“Hey God! Aren’t You listening to me? Good wife. I realize that you’ve been around for all eternity. Is Your hearing starting to go? Good wife. W-I-F-E.”
Then, of course, I entered the seminary and studied theology.
· Theologically, the priest stands in for Christ when administering the sacraments. We act in persona Christi.
· Scripturally, Christ has a mystical bride—the Church.
For no one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “For this reason a man shall leave (his) father and (his) mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the church. (Ephesians 5: 29-32)
The Catechism of the Catholic Church confirms this as well: The Church is the Bride of Christ: he loved her and handed himself over for her. He has purified her by his blood and made her the fruitful mother of all God's children (808).
Suffice it to say that as a priest acting in persona Christi I have the same spouse that Christ does—the People of God, the Church. God appears to have answered my prayer in a way that I did not expect, giving me the best bride that there could be—His own!
Yes, sometimes in my life there may be moments when I ask those what if questions. What if I didn’t become a priest? What if I got married? What if I had a family of my own? Yet, after these 20+ years of ministerial Priesthood I’m glad that I answered God’s call. I can honestly say that I would do it all again.
And so, although I don’t have one individual to spend the rest of my life with, I still have a spouse—the Church—to accompany me through life’s journey.
Yes, I sleep alone. But I look on the positive side—no morning breath to face as I wake!
Fr. Ed Namiotka