I stumbled on this the other day. In this season of ordinations (and ordination anniversaries), it’s a beautiful reminder of what it means to be a priest, and the extraordinary sacrifice and devotion it entails. God bless our priests. Ad multos annos!

“Insofar as he unites the family of God and brings about the Church as communion, the priest becomes the bridge between man and God, making himself a brother of men who wants to be their pastor, father and master.  The priest will guide the man of today, in his search for the meaning of his existence, to a personal encounter with Christ, an encounter which is realized as a message and as a reality already present, although not in a definitive way, in the Church. In such a way the priest, placed in the service of the People of God, will present himself as an expert in humanity, a man of truth and of communion, a witness of the solicitude of the Only Shepherd for each and every member of his flock. The community will be able to count on his dedication, availability, untiring work of evangelization and, above all, his devoted and unconditional love.

Therefore, he will exercise his spiritual mission with kindness and firmness, with humility and service, opening himself to compassion, participating in the sufferings which arise from the various forms of poverty, spiritual and material, old and new. He will know also how to act with humility and with mercy within the difficult and uncertain ways of the conversion of sinners, to which he will exercise the gift of truth and patience and the encouraging benevolence of the Good Shepherd, who does not reprove the lost sheep, but carries it on his shoulders and celebrates for its return to the fold (cf Lk 15:4-7).”

Directory on the Ministry and Life of Priests, 1994