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Why priests really should be your go-to in times of despair

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Josephine McCaul - published on 05/17/23

At the most distressing times in our lives, turning to your priest can offer some tranquility.

One of the many joys of being a Catholic is how our faith can be of great solace in troubling times.

An easy example of this would be how our prayer life can have a calming and anchoring effect. If the day has been hard, or we have concerns of any sort, we know we can seek help. In fact those bedtime prayers can almost feel like checking in with mom and dad before we nod off to sleep. It just feels like home.

Yet, other than our prayer life, there are also other elements of the Church that can provide great comfort, and often when you need it the most.

There have been two times over the last few years where I’ve felt such despair that I didn’t want to get out of bed. It was the sort of emotional pain that I didn’t think I’d have the wherewithal to cope with it. But as a mom to a number of kids, I couldn’t allow myself to be submerged in the agony.

So, I took the advice of my mother — she’s always right! I went to Mass. But for some reason I went to a church I didn’t know — a chaplaincy with links to my father’s hometown.

It was a beautiful little building and the familiar aroma of the polished pews hit me as soon as I walked in. It was the smell of my childhood. And then the priest arrived and he not only had my dad’s accent, he also had the most kind and calming voice. I sat in the pews and cried, and cried.

After Mass I went to talk to him with red eyes. I didn’t even care what he thought. I just needed to thank him for allowing me to feel such comfort amidst my personal, frightening anguish. Again, he was just full of compassion with a desire to ease my pain. He offered to say Mass for me to help with my particularly serious issue. I left the chaplaincy so much lighter.

A couple of years later I had a less serious issue, but nonetheless one that was causing me great pain. I’d spent the weekend producing way too many tears and was in need of help. I prayed my usual prayers and sought out some help from some serious intercessors, but I felt emotionally drained.

Now as it happened, on the Monday morning I had an online meeting with a colleague who is a priest, and with my boss. Due to unforeseen circumstances my boss couldn’t make it, so I was left chatting with Father.

Now, in his simple, sincere fashion he asked me how I was. Well that set me off … again … because when he asks that question you can see he really means it. It’s not the throwaway question we so often ask others. And although I felt mortified with my highly unprofessional behavior, I felt overwhelmed with relief.

I only gave Father the bare bones of my anguish but there he was lending a compassionate ear, and a feeling of reassurance that all will be okay in the end … because it will be. Again, he offered to say Mass for me (which incidentally I’m sure worked wonders) and said he’d keep me in his prayers. It was as if someone had taken my burden on their shoulders.

Other than the fact that I felt there was a little heavenly intervention with my boss not joining the meeting, it made me think what a beautiful gift the priesthood is for us all.

Our clergymen can share such compassion, kindness, and spiritual support. And not only can this make us feel like life is worth living, but it can also bring back the odd smile when we’re in the throes of despair.

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Catholic LifestyleFaithPriest
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