Sunday, September 16, 2012

Priesthood: Exhausted by Joy

What does a priest do all day?  It all depends.  But, at the end of this beautiful few days, I want to share a little bit of what the experience of being a priest is like.  In no particular order:

I had dinner with two wonderful parishioners who both became Catholic later in life.  They only recently joined our parish--maybe two years ago--and they have added so much to our parish life and to my life as a priest.  Their home is constantly filled with young parishioners and with devoted Christians who are thinking about becoming Catholics. 

I had three meetings about a Bible Study program that our parishes will be beginning in October.  It is the Great Adventure Bible Study and we have approximately 70 parishioners signed up.

I met with several parishioners throughout the past few days who are experiencing some sort of turmoil in their life about one thing or another.

I held Julian's hand.  Every week--while I'm standing on the front steps of Church--Julian who is three years old comes and shakes my hand and then we kind of just stand there holding hands for a few moments.  I love that kid.

At one of the meetings about the Bible Study, a young family came and they were talking to various parishioners.  The young couple was holding a beautiful baby boy.  I explained to some of the other folks there that this was, "Baby Matthew."  At first they all said, "Oh that's nice."  But then it clicked with one of them and she exclaimed, "This isn't THE BABY MATTHEW??!"  Baby Matthew had a rough time when he came into the world and everybody has been praying for him.  He still has difficulties ahead of him, but he is in a far better state than anyone would have imagined a few months ago.  There were just all of these people standing there realizing that without actually ever having met one another, they are all very close to each other.

Myself and our Director for Evangelization lugged three metal desks down a steep flight of stairs, loaded them onto a trailer, drove them to our parish, and then carried them into some new office space.  The desks were generously donated.  I think that they were built around 1950 with armor from surplus tanks.  They weighed a ton.

We had a meeting in order to start up the Knights of Columbus in our parishes.  About 40 men expressed interest and we hope to get this project up and running soon.

On Saturday, a great group of volunteers of all ages came to our former convent building and generously donated their time to painting and cleaning.  Another volunteer came and mowed the lawn.

At the 4pm Mass on Saturday, we had a tenor and a soprano sing Mendelssohn's, "My Song Shall Be Alway Thy Mercy."  I hope to post their singing later because it was magnificent.  They sang it during Communion time.  It must be what heaven sounds like all the time.

As I was coming out of my garage on Sunday morning at 10:30AM, the priest with whom I live was beginning the choir Mass.  The windows of the church were open.  The sound was unbelievable.  I thought, if anybody were walking by, they'd be compelled to go inside the church to find out what is going on in there.  Fr. Chateau--the priest with whom I live--and I always say how spoiled we are to have such beautiful music.

I heard confessions and was kept busy the whole time.

The choir Mass was jammed today.  Tons of families, guests, college students, and all sorts of joyful people.  I was delighted to see a young couple coming into Mass that I will be marrying later this week!

I was visited by three seminarians.  Another seminarian wrote to me and told me how he is so grateful for the tons of cards he gets from my parishioners.  The parishioners here have a custom of offering holy hours for seminarians and then sending them a card to let them know that they were prayed for during an hour of Eucharistic Adoration.

A seminarian asked me if he could have his first Mass here next year.  Awesome!

I saw two other young men at Mass this weekend who I know are thinking about the priesthood.

I spent the evening on Sunday with our high school youth ministry group where there were about twenty kids.

When I told the priest with whom I live today that I was going to watch the Patriots' Game, he said, "Remember you watch TV with your eyes and not your mouth."  His point is that sometimes I get excited and loud when I watch a sporting event (even if I am not a particularly huge fan of the sport).  His comment--good natured, I think--made me grateful for the great life we have in our rectory and also for the great team of people who work for the parish.  We have a great group of folks.

I got to offer Mass and to preach the Gospel.  It is so awesome to get up week after week and preach the Gospel and to teach about the Catholic Faith.  I'm totally thrilled for this Year of Faith and have spent tons of time reading, writing, and preparing for this great moment in our life.

I prayed--which I need to do more of.  I see the Year of Faith not only as a time to teach and to preach others, but as I time to draw closer to the Lord myself.  I'm blessed that I have all of these great parishioners to help me.

I'm exhausted!  And it is the best type of exhaustion there is.  It is the exhaustion that only joy can give.  It is the exhaustion of being overwhelmed by the goodness and beauty of something awesome.  All of the things listed here are simply a small portion of what really occurs in the life of the priest.  There are the hundreds of encounters, subtle nods of the head, hugs, requests for prayers, confidences, laughs, and so many other things that it would be impossible to list. 

Being a priest is totally awesome.  Priesthood puts me in constant contact with Jesus Christ--in his sacraments, in his word, and in his people.  In each of these situations, Jesus is revealing himself and asking me, "Who do you say that I am?"  And the awesomeness of these encounters elicits only one possible response.  With Peter, I confess that "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God."

Being a priest is also totally exhausting sometimes.  So, this exhausted and joyful priest better say his prayers before he falls asleep.

Thank you Lord for making me a priest and for giving me a flock.  You are the Christ!

1 comment:

  1. We also enjoy and are grateful for the zeal and happiness the Lord has given you!