“Families do need it. A shepherd’s presence in our pasture meant an abundance of blessings for my husband and me — literal blessings (check out how incredibly beautiful the prayer of ‘blessing of an automobile’ is!) and blessings of the soul. When the kids were finally tucked in after a late evening sibling blow-up, Father offered a bounty of encouragement and a tiny sprinkling of the gentlest of chiding, with the wisdom of a celibate consecrated to God, privy to so many lessons in humanity gleaned within the walls of the confessional.”
While Melanie and I don’t have the space to have anyone other than close family as a guest in our home (the problem being a lack of a guest room), we do preach the value of having priests as dinner guests, as well as others like young people discerning religious life and religious brothers and sisters. In addition to the benefits to our children–exposing them to those who embody the vocations they will have to choose among–and the benefits to us–friendship and camaraderie, there are obvious benefits to them as well, including friendship and the experience of a family life that isn’t your own nieces and nephews. (And given the decreased size of families today, it’s possible they don’t have any nieces or nephews.)
I have said before that while a priest doesn’t need to be married to be able to counsel the married, he does need to be around families and children regularly in order to remember what family life is like.
That said, it’s been too long since we’ve have a priest or other guest at our table. Time to rectify that.