Windows Into the Life of a Priest

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Father Robert Lange

“He is a priest forever! Father Lange’s fascinating account of his lifelong path to the priesthood and his experience of grace is intensely personal, and yet he accomplishes his purpose of reminding us about universal truths and the possibility of a permanent, loving relationship with God. This inspiring book is equally suited for Sunday afternoon reading and as a required text for students and seminarians.”
Patrick J. Reilly President, The Cardinal Newman Society


Father Robert A. Lange’s engaging memoir, Windows into the Life of a Priest, supplies exactly what the book’s title indicates, namely, an anecdotal account of one man’s Catholic priesthood. While it is autobiographical in the sense that it is based largely on Father Lange’s life and experiences as a priest, the aim and purpose of the book belong more to the realm of Catholic faith and devotion generally, and, indeed, to that of Catholic apologetics, giving reasons for the faith, offering “a defense . . . for the hope that is in [us]” (1 Pet 3:13). Among other things, Father Lange turns out to be quite an effective apologist for the faith.

At various times in the text, Father Lange remarks, in effect, that “It’s not about me!” Rather, it’s about faith and God’s grace, how important and indeed necessary they are, and how they literally make life worth living. Father Lange certainly shows that they have made his life worth living—and worth recounting too, for the benefit of others, especially for those he calls wayward Christians. If God could save him—and by save here is meant not only eternal salvation, but rescue from an aimless and empty life here and now—why could he not save you or me as well? That, in fact, is precisely what God wants to do for all of us; he wants to save us from ourselves—if only you and I will respond to his love, abundantly offered to everyone, and cooperate! This is an important part of the message that Father Lange never tires of repeating.

The book is also about the Catholic priesthood to which Father Lange aspired, and that he attained. With God’s help he overcame many shortcomings, difficulties, and traumas to become a priest. This is all recounted in loving detail in these pages. Father Lange reveres the priesthood, and treats it with a kind of awe even after all the years he himself has now been a priest.

As an author Father Lange presents himself, perhaps exaggeratedly, as a simple, down-to-earth average man, with, however, as he tells the story, more than average flaws, shortcomings, and brokenness. He was away from the faith for a number of years, living an aimless, undisciplined, and even sometimes dissolute life. He is quite frank about all this. Yet through a return to the faith of his childhood, and by God’s grace, as he makes clear, he proved able to become a priest and a pastor in a position to help others in his turn, especially by orienting them towards the same faith in Jesus Christ, in his church, and in the graces that come from faithful Catholic practice and participation in the sacraments that he has experienced in his own life.

Just as the long pontificate of Blessed Pope John Paul II demonstrated again that any authentic Catholic faith is also necessarily Marian, so Father Lange is fervent in his devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, whom he believes has intervened in his life.

Father Lange, in short, quite simply believes that the Catholic faith is true. He believes this in a real and not merely in a notional sense. It is not something abstract; nor is it merely a philosophy, or a theory, or a habit; it is real. It is the truth. Similarly, miracles are real, he affirms, just as are also real interventions by God or by his holy angels, which Father believes he has experienced in his own life. In writing about all this, he also gets into describing various saints, devotions (especially to the Blessed Mother), apparitions, and other graced happenings. Almost painfully honest in describing the failures and traumas in his own life, he nevertheless often sees the pain of it all transformed into love and joy through faith. Written in a relaxed and readable style, the book successfully presents vignettes from this priest’s life which are both interesting in themselves, and often edifying, though not in an overly preachy way.

At one point, Father Lange remarks: “If I had any gift, it was my sincerity . . . I speak from my heart.” The same thing is true of this book as well; his sincerity indeed does come across. Once again, however, it is not about him. The “me generation” seems to have wholly by-passed him. Rather, his book is about Jesus Christ and his Blessed Mother and his church and how they change the lives of Christians daily—how they do, in fact, make life worth living.

Kenneth D. Whitehead

Angels Earning their Wings
Under Mary’s Mantle
Road to Priesthood
You Are a Priest Forever
Priesthood–A New Life Begins
Prayerful Thoughts and Images
A Final Glimpse

Fr. Robert A. Lange
Excellent. Written with great humility, truth and sensitivity!
We were in a meeting when a woman came in. She held up Father Lange's book and said, "I'm reading this. I love it."
I know Father Lange personally, and reading his book is just like talking with him. I loaned his book to a friend. As he read the book, he read portions to his wife. When he finished reading the book, his wife held on to it so that she could read it herself.
Father Lange writes in a smooth, conversational style, which reflects how he learned he was supposed to become a priest, his spiritual development, his devotion to our Savior and the Blessed Mother, and his relationship with his congregation. His faith is profound, and his siritual guidance unequaled.
No doubt every priest who has answered the call has a unique story. Father Lange's journey is at once captivating as he describes his personal path to a faith-filled priesthood. But it also captures a vivid example of the challenges and hurdles that every priest answers before, during, and long after he has accepted the heavy mantle (along with the many blessings) of the priesthood.

As with another reviewer, I am also a Catholic convert. And like 99% of everyone outside of the clergy (my guess at this statistic), I knew almost nothing of what it must be like on the journey to shepherding the Lord's flock. Father Lange's story will leave you thanking every faithful servant of God for their dedication and service. It will also reaffirm the love and protection of a loving trinity that is God, and inspire you to also seek the intercession of Mary, the Blessed Mother of Christ our Redeemer.
The inspirational experiences shared here demonstrate just how often Priests are called upon to deal with the messes of our lives, while simultaneously endeavoring to be an inspirational story teller, a theologian, and a shrewd administrator. We have lost touch with the fact that priest are people – hard working, well-meaning and imperfect people just like the rest of us.

As less of us have the privilege of forging personal relationships with our priests, congregations become more disconnected from everything they are asked to do, beyond the pulpit. Perhaps we are so accustom to consuming carefully rehearsed and scripted depictions in the media, that we naturally tend to expect the same from the pulpit, as well as any social occasion, leaving little room for genuine personalities, or the will of God. Into this environment, Father Lange presents a work that provides us with an inside look at what is real, but often unseen, within our parishes. As I read, I became inspired to pray more often for our priest, and reach out to form lasting relationships.

It is fitting how Father Lange weaves the ending of his book back to the purpose for life, showing how it is complemented b
Father Lange's memoir is interesting and engaging, and covers a wide range of emotional content. It is at times brutally honest in revealing personal challenges met and missed, and always unwavering in showing devotion to his faith. There is a wry sense of humor that appears occasionally, and the writing is clear and direct. I knew Fr. Lange years ago, and his story brought back a torrent of memories as well as surprising revelations about our shared past. Knowing that he died not long after his book was published added a layer of regret to my reading, that I could no longer reach out to talk with him. He declined a school reunion a few years ago, and I didn't know he was ill. His book is a fitting legacy to leave for those who knew him of course, and more for anyone wanting to know about the life of a good man.
This story of one priest's life illustrates the struggles, joy's, sorrows and heartache every priest experiences. Constantly striving to achieve holiness, sometimes falling, and recovering and journeying onward. In Father's own life we can see the brokeness he experienced at an early age, (this is something most of us would have never recovered from), but by the grace of God, Fr Lange is able to move on and find his way to the priesthood. A miracle indeed.

Father's life abounds with both the miraculous and seemingly more that his share of the Cross.

Just as St Peter wasn't a saint when he was chosen by Christ to lead his Church, priests aren't saints when they become priests. I think the laity many times forget that. Each of us must work out our salvation "in fear and trembling", it is no different for our priests. One major difference is that our priests are on the "front lines", making their struggle much more difficult. The enemy goes after them much harder, because if they take out a priest, many souls fall with them. Our priests pray for us, we laity sometimes forget how important it is to pray for them.
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