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Many Are Called: Rediscovering the Glory of the Priesthood

Many Are Called: Rediscovering the Glory of the Priesthood

3.2 11
by Scott Hahn

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In Many Are Called, Dr. Scott Hahn, one of the most celebrated scholars and influential Catholic writers living today, enthusiastically encourages Catholics around the world to renew their focus on the sacred role of the Catholic priest. Using his unique ability to present deep spiritual and theological ideas in the language of everyday life, Dr. Hahn examines


In Many Are Called, Dr. Scott Hahn, one of the most celebrated scholars and influential Catholic writers living today, enthusiastically encourages Catholics around the world to renew their focus on the sacred role of the Catholic priest. Using his unique ability to present deep spiritual and theological ideas in the language of everyday life, Dr. Hahn examines the biblical and historical roots of the priesthood to explain the centrality of the priest in the life of the Church. He brings reinvigorated attention to the many roles of the priest—provider, mediator, protector, teacher, judge, and more—all of which are united in the priest's place as spiritual father to God's people, and ultimately he shows that it is through the priest, empowered by God, that the continuing presence of Jesus Christ makes itself known to our world.
     Lively, insightful, and engaging, Many Are Called will serve as an inspiration to students and seminarians considering a vocation, to clergy renewing their call, to Catholic readers looking to deepen their faith, and to seekers curious about one of Catholicism's defining but least understood elements. With a foreword by the Most Reverend Timothy M. Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, this is a truly special book, one that speaks to the restless heart of humanity and reveals that our pleas for a spiritual father have already been answered.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“In Many Are Called: Rediscovering the Glory of the Priesthood, Scott speaks profoundly about the priesthood. His insights are compelling. As a former Presbyterian minister, now a Catholic theologian, and as a loving husband and the father of six children, Scott looks upon priests from a matchless vantage point.”
– Most Reverend Timothy M. Dolan, Archbishop of New York
“Hahn does for today’s priesthood what color technology did for black-and-white films, bringing the priestly vocation to vibrant life with practical realism and biblical warmth. An inspiration for priests, a vital enrichment for lay people – the spiritual vitality is contagious!”
– Carl A. Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus

“No one sees the beauty, the burdens and the greatness of the priesthood more clearly than the lay faithful who find Jesus Christ through the service of their priests. So it makes perfect sense that one of the best books on the priesthood to come along in years has been written by a lay scholar. In Many Are Called Scott Hahn offers a portrait of the priesthood that is vivid, engaging, wonderfully readable and rich in inspiration. This is a marvelous volume for priests and laypeople alike. I highly recommend it.”
– Most Reverend Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap, Archbishop of Denver
“Scott Hahn brings insight, wisdom, and his own unique pastoral experience to this celebration of the priesthood in the Catholic Church. Give it to a priest you know. But get one for yourself, too.”
– George Weigel, Distinguished Senior Fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center
“In this age of information, it's dangerously easy to become so inundated by images and opinions that we lose track of what it means to be a husband or a father, priest or laity. How do we begin over again to rediscover the essence of what it is God has called us to be? Dr. Hahn's concise yet personal examination of ‘the glory of the priesthood’ is a timely and trustworthy place to begin.”
– Marcus Grodi, TV host, The Journey Home
“Many Are Called will deepen the reader's appreciation of the mystery of the priesthood, and provide special insight into the priest as ‘another Christ,’ as one who offers sacrifice, and as father.” 
– Fr. Peter Cameron, O.P and Editor-in-Chief of Magnificat ®
“In Many Are Called, Scott Hahn unveils the grandeur of the holy mystery of holy orders, showing us its deeper meanings and higher calling and reminding us of how precious this
‘treasure in earthen vessels’ is to the Church, how precious priests are in God's eyes. I am convinced that this powerful scriptural meditation on the nature, meaning, and role of the priesthood will spiritually enrich anyone who reads it with a prayerful heart.”
– Patrick Madrid, Director of the Envoy Institute of Belmont Abbey College, author of Does the Bible Really Say That? and Search and Rescue
“Responding to God’s call to serve him as a priest can be a challenge but, at the same time, a wonderful blessing. Professor Scott Hahn helps his readers to recognize the unique ministry of the priest as he manifests the kingdom of God through his ordination to teach and administer the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, and to be the spiritual leader for the portion of God’s flock entrusted to his care. Particularly in this Year for Priests, this book will not only encourage priests to reflect all over again on the joy of their vocation, but also guide the lay faithful to a better understanding of the significance of the great gift that is priesthood.  My hope is that Many Are Called might inspire all of us once again to thank God for the unique gift that is the priesthood.”
– Most Reverend Donald W. Wuerl, S.T.D., Archbishop of Washinton, D.C.
“At a time when the priesthood is surrounded by turmoil - Clarity!”
– Matthew Kelly, New York Times bestselling author of Rediscovering Catholicism and The Rhythm of Life

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1:
Measures of Manhood

Not Your Average Joe

Joe Freedy enjoyed the kind of life my friends and I envied when we were teens. He was starting quarterback for the State University of New York at Buffalo. The Bulls are an NCAA Division I team, so his games were broadcast worldwide on ESPN and other sports networks. As a senior, he finished fourth in his conference in passing yards. Two of the men ahead of him, Ben Roethlisberger and Byron Leftwich, would go on to be superstars in the National Football League. He was on the “must invite” list for the best parties on campus, and with his linebacker roommate he went from one to the next. He had movie-star good looks—even when he wasn’t wearing his helmet and face mask—and most of the university’s thousands of young women knew who he was.

My buddies and I dreamed of such a life, with sports to gratify our competitive urges, television cameras to feed our egos, beautiful girls to confirm our sex appeal—and the promise of prodigious earning power, from a professional contract and endorsements. For us, that all added up to fulfillment. It marked a certain pinnacle of manhood.

Joe Freedy was Catholic, one of five children raised by devout parents, but God was second-string in his life and spent most of the time forgotten on the sidelines. Joe later recalled for a reporter: “I was into football and image. I’d put in an hour Sunday and as soon as I hit the parking lot I forgot about God until next Sunday.”

Football and image remained his preoccupations. What else was there? Old Milwaukee used to advertise its beer with scenes from the sporting and partying life. They ran with the tag line: “It doesn’t get any better than this.” Maybe that’s what Joe Freedy believed.

Gridiron and Grace

Then his father loaned him a book about the Mass. Joe started reading and found he couldn’t stop. The book presented the Mass in terms that were unfamiliar to him. Drawing from the vision of John in the Book of Revelation, the author spoke of the Mass as “heaven on earth” and drew out the implications of the Catholic doctrine of the Real Presence. Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist—body, blood, soul, and divinity—and this is the fulfillment of certain promises he made during his earthly ministry. “I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh” (Jn 6:51). “And he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body which is given for you’?” (Lk 22:19). “I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Mt 28:20).

As Joe read on, he learned that when the priest speaks the words of institution, “This is my body,” Christ is present, attended by all the angels and the saints. He comes in glory—all the glory that he has possessed since the beginning of time, all the glory he will have at the end of time. And this presence is the very definition of heaven. It is a foretaste, because we cannot yet see him in his glory. It is, however, no less real and no less glorious.

These truths upended Joe and revolutionized his experience of going to Church. Here’s the way he explained it: “If someone never watched football and went to a game without knowing the rules and the strategies, they probably wouldn’t enjoy it. When I learned what was happening at the Mass . . . I enjoyed it more.”

Joe started going to Mass more often, and then every day. His teammates noticed a big change right away. Joe was still Joe, but he had matured, grown more serious about life. He wasn’t interested in partying.

The new experience woke him up to something more. Now listening more closely in prayer, Joe soon discerned God’s call. God was calling him to the priesthood.

He went on with the season and finished very well, ending up third in career passing yards at Buffalo, whose football program stretched back more than a hundred years.

In spring of 2002, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in communications; three months later, he began studies at St. Paul Seminary in Pittsburgh, a demanding six-year program in preparation for his ordination. He went on to score two graduate degrees, one from a Roman university, and in his spare time complete Spanish-language studies in Mexico.

On the morning of Saturday, June 21, 2008, Bishop David Zubik ordained Joseph Freedy to the priesthood of Jesus Christ. It was more than a new game, more than a new season, more than a new team, even more than a new career. For Father Joe it was a new life, a new way of being. (More on that later.)

Within a year he found himself serving as a chaplain for the Missionaries of Charity, the religious order founded by Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta. They, in turn, inspired him to spend his Christmas break in 2008 in Ethiopia, among the poorest of the poor. Once back in Pittsburgh, he soon made the news when he was among the first clergymen to show up at the scene when a mass murder had taken place at a suburban fitness club.

Many are called to the priesthood. Not every man who answers the call comes with a story like Joe’s—though they all come with a story—but they all receive what Father Joe received. They receive the priesthood of Christ and the divine power to bring his sacraments to a world that needs them.

Every priest gets what Father Joe got. Ultimately, they get a supernatural fulfillment of something God gave them by nature: manhood, masculinity. That’s why we address them as “Father.”

Manhood, fatherhood . . . it doesn’t get any better than this.

Masculinity and Its Counterfeits

The television commercials, however, tell a different story, don’t they? All the popular media, in fact, draw from certain stereotypes when they want to convey masculinity. Instead of the real deal, they give us machismo, which is a caricature of masculinity.

They show us men who are sexually promiscuous, physically aggressive, and ostentatiously wealthy. They would have us believe that the measure of manhood is to be found in a guy’s bedroom and backseat exploits, his fistfights (sublimated, perhaps, into competitive sports), or his prodigal spending.

The stereotypes would have us believe that the Y chromosome—maleness—will remain unfulfilled as long as any of these things is lacking. My friends and I believed this when we were teenagers, though I don’t think we could have articulated it. Our male role models were professional athletes, rock stars, and young, successful entrepreneurs who lived large. We would have been baffled by quarterback Joe Freedy’s vocational decision as well as Father Joe Freedy’s sense of fulfillment.

Please don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against professional sports, rock music, or the free market. I’m an avid fan of all three. I don’t believe the media, however, give us the best images of men in these fields. The cameraman gravitates toward the wide receiver who does an elaborate dance in the end zone. The reporter rushes to the boxer who will make the most outrageous claims. Paparazzi chase a stoned singer-songwriter through Southern California just to get a snapshot of him with his mistress. Why? Because provocative movement makes for “good” TV. Scandal makes for “good” newspaper copy.

Again, I’m not bashing the sport or the music. For every steroid- or cocaine-fueled prima donna out there, there’s someone like Lou Gehrig, the Yankees first baseman, who quietly and courageously shows up for thousands of games, even when he’s injured—who tips generously but not in a showy way, and who takes good care of his mother. There’s a Roberto Clemente, the Pirates outfielder, who risked his life at the peak of his career, and lost it, trying to help the victims of a natural disaster in a faraway land.

Nevertheless, we have to admit that the stereotypes dominate the media and dominate the consciousness of young males (and many not-so-young males). When a young Joe Freedy said that his whole life was “football and image,” the image he had in mind was surely that of the “guy’s guy,” which he picked up from the halftime beer commercials. In time, he learned that machismo does not satisfy, does not fulfill, a man—and he learned of something that does.

The Hidden Truth About Men

Why do so many men seek fulfillment and satisfaction where it cannot be found? Why do we settle for counterfeits rather than the real thing? Why do we believe the media’s distortions of masculinity?

We believe them precisely because they are counterfeits, caricatures, and stereotypes. All such falsehoods depend upon a basis of truth, which they oversimplify, distort, or exaggerate.

When the media portray men as libidinous, aggres- sive, and greedy, they’re grossly distorting authentic male roles—fatherly roles— namely, life-giver, protector, and provider. In the normal course of family life, a father is progenitor; he gives life, through the sexual expression of his love for his wife. In the normal course of family life, a father is the one who defends the family from outside threats; in extreme cases that can involve a violent intervention. In the normal course of family life, a father provides for his wife and children, as wage-earner and breadwinner, but also as a wise counselor, patient teacher, and steady emotional support.

What happens when these roles are severed from one another, severed from fatherhood, and deprived of their religious meaning, which is deeply theological?

When that happens, we encounter men in society as we find them in the media.

When it happens to us personally, we feel continually frustrated, confused, dissatisfied, unfulfilled.

What I hope to do in the course of this book is to recover the biblical and theological truth about priesthood and fatherhood. Here’s why: Those two realities are profoundly related to each other. What’s more, those terms describe the roles for which men—males—were created. God made men to be fathers. He called men to be fathers. And our hearts are restless till we rest in the role for which we were created, body and soul, and for which we were called by God and his Church.

I am a happily married man, proud father to five sons and a daughter and grandfather of three. I thank God for the fatherhood he has conferred upon me. Yet I believe that he has conferred a more perfect, and ultimately more fulfilling, fatherhood on Joe Freedy and those he has called to the priesthood.

Freed Up for Service

But I’m getting ahead of myself. That’s the truth I want to work out in the rest of this book. It’s a truth that God has revealed from the beginning of creation, in nature and in Scripture. In the chapters that follow, we’ll trace the story line of “salvation history,” highlighting the development of fatherhood and priesthood as God’s people try, sometimes succeeding and sometimes failing, to live out those roles.

If we understand fatherhood and priesthood from God’s point of view, we’ll be better equipped to help men discern their vocation and live it out faithfully. For many are called. In fact, all men have a vocation to fatherhood of one sort or another. But many are called to the fatherhood of priesthood.

Meet the Author

SCOTT HAHN holds the Fr. Michael Scanlan Chair of Biblical Theology and the New Evangelization at Franciscan University of Steubenville, where he has taught since 1990, and he is the founder and president of the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology. In 2005, he was appointed as the Pope Benedict XVI Chair of Biblical Theology and Liturgical Proclamation at St. Vincent Seminary in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. Dr. Hahn is also the bestselling author of numerous books, including Lamb's Supper, Reasons to Believe, and Rome Sweet Home (coauthored with his wife, Kimberly), and is editor of the Ignatius Catholic Study Bible and Letter & Spirit: A Journal of Catholic Biblical Theology. Some of his most recent books are Many Are Called, Consuming the Word, The Catholic Bible Dictionary, and Signs of Life. He lives in Steubenville, Ohio.

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Many Are Called: Rediscovering the Glory of the Priesthood 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was given to me for a birthday, and I read it quickly. It is a fast read, but deep in Church teaching and Scripture. A great read, it has made me consider the life of a priest.
vg57 More than 1 year ago
“Many Are Called” is an enjoyable read; guiding the reader through the devotement and teaching of the Priesthood. Scott Hahn is his usually brilliant self, providing just the right amount of personal touch to draw the reader into the subject without making it feel like a school “text book”. The stories and testimonies are great but of course what give the book its’ weight is the heavy reliance on scripture, with an interpretation that uses both history and Church teaching. This is not just a book for someone discerning a call to the priesthood, which I wasn’t, but for anyone who would like to know more about Salvation History of which the priesthood has always had a central role – the High Priesthood of Jesus evidencing such. It is a quick and easy read and will prove enjoyable for anyone. God Bless!
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Ann Appel More than 1 year ago
A good idea, but it could have been much more spiritual. Seemed like it was put together without much research, and written perhaps too quickly. Still could be helpful for many readers.
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