Why priests wear black

Karol Wojtyla (1948)
Good Shepherd
Good Shepherd (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today in mass, the Gospel reading (John 10:11-18) begins:

Jesus said:
“I am the good shepherd.
A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

At Queen of Peace this morning, Father Peter explained in his homily a dimension about his priestly ordination that I did not know.  He asked us, “Do you know why priests wear black?”

Here’s me thinking:  “Hmm.  Come to think of it, Father – I have no idea.  They didn’t cover this in RCIA or (more likely) I missed this point…”

He said that black symbolizes the death of priest to himself.

He went on to explain that priests literally give up their lives in service to our Church.  They give up the possibility of marriage, family, children.  If someone calls for him at 2 AM, he has to go.  No questions asked.  Being a priest is not a career, it is a vocation in the true sense of the word.

I think it is the same as my vocation as husband and father.  I cannot take off a day from it.  If my daughter calls me to here at 2 AM, I have to go to her.  If my wife needs me, I have to go to her.  No questions asked.

Fr. Peter went on to explain that during the ordination ceremony, the candidates for ordination lie prostrate in front of the altar.  The congregation chants the Litany of Supplication a prayer that asks for the intercession of the saints in order that God may look favorably upon those to be ordained.

Ordination candidates lie prostrate - Courtesy of Denver Catholic Register

As leaders of our parishes, priests are our good shepherds.  Let us give thanks to God for their call to lay down in service to the Church.  For those of us who are called to other vocations, I suggest that we recite the Dedication to Jesus, a prayer by St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556):

Lord Jesus Christ,
take all my freedom,
my memory,
my understanding,
and my will.
All that I have and cherish You have given me.
I surrender it all to be guided by Your Will.
Your grace and Your love
and wealth are enough for me.
Give me these, Lord Jesus,
and I ask for nothing more.

Father Robert Barron’s Sermon 590 : The Shepherd’s Voice : 4th Sunday of Easter is a great homily on Jesus, the Good Shepherd.  It’s worth 15 minutes of your day this week.

Have a blessed Sunday!  My prayers for you and your intentions.

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