I have a story for the pope.

I’m wearing my cassock. I am standing, with just my arms, against a large plain wall in St. Peter’s Basilica. I’m in the middle of one of the longest religious services in the Catholic faith, one where men and women from both the Church and secular culture stand in a circle, separated by a thin, fire-and-brimstone partition.

There is a bishop speaking to the entire assembly in Latin, and there are two altar servers standing on either side of me, prepared to immediately start praying. But I’m not ready.

And so there I am, sandwiched between me and the Lord.

"Are you a clergyman?"

"I’m a lay person, thanks," I said.

"I don’t understand. Do you practice celibacy?"

"Well, I don’t think so."

My words had a strangled tone, perhaps because they came out of my mouth with a slight grip. I don’t remember my deep thought here. I don’t remember trying to explain my decision to be a lay leader of a congregational family. I have since come to see how that story has shaped my approach to priesthood. And though I see no value in simply stating a simple answer, there’s no way to say it here without it sounding a little ridiculous.

I told Pope Francis that I am a lay person who follows the Church’s liturgy, who understands Catholic identity, who supports its causes. I am on the clerical side of the communal prayer. I attend Mass when I have the time and energy. I administer sacraments and celebrate the eucharist, or at least some of it. I find it vital to always attend Mass on Sunday — not just as a ritual but also because I have tried to find meaning in it. I keep coming back to this conversation with hope because it’s clear to me that even though my acceptance of my vocation comes from an unknown place, it shows that I’m just a little person who wants to have some effect on the Church.

That’s a feeling that I have tried to describe in some way through my work in communitarian liturgy — not the church’s formal practice of liturgy or the Church’s official teaching on matters of doctrine, but in the sense of the relationship that is one between congregations and each other. The church is a conversation in which each parish itself is just a conversation too. And yes, at the center of all the conversation is this priestly vocation for life.

"A small Catholic man, in solidarity with others, who seeks to embody the values of the Church." — Pope Francis

I’m a lay person who follows the Church’s liturgy, who understands Catholic identity, who supports its causes. I’m on the clerical side of the communal prayer. I attend Mass when I have the time and energy. I administer sacraments and celebrate the eucharist, or at least some of it. I find it vital to always attend Mass on Sunday — not just as a ritual but also because I have tried to find meaning in it. I keep coming back to this conversation with hope because it’s clear to me that even though my acceptance of my vocation comes from an unknown place, it shows that I’m just a little person who wants to have some effect on the Church.

To Pope Francis, that small Catholic man who follows the liturgy, in solidarity with others, who seeks to embody the values of the Church:

I hope that the type of liturgy you are celebrating on this day can help the church understand how it can live more fully in our own time. It’s time to celebrate because it is, after all, the liturgy that we know. It’s time to celebrate because it is, in practice, the life of our tradition. It’s time to celebrate, because its very ability to teach us the truths of Christ, and the gift of its history, will give us courage to live more fully as God’s beloved sons and daughters. And so, at this moment of great hope and celebration, I wish you all a fast and joyous Easter, a wonderful feast, a joyous week, and a blessed Easter, and a joyous year. May the Lord be with you, and may his love be ours, too.

Read the full story at RobertMoyer.com.