Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sunday, Exhausting and Awesome

Parish priests get to know their people.  What did I see and hear this Sunday?

In the back of church, was a young father holding his infant son.  That son almost died at birth.  I baptized and confirmed him.  In the sanctuary was one of the lectors.  He went through our RCIA a few years ago and has become a friend and a wonderful parishioner.  Next to him was another lector.  She and her husband are truly remarkable.  They know what it means to be truly Catholic and it is as though they went to some special training class on how to encourage and support the priest.

Seminarian Brian Cullen, Fr. Chateau, Seminarian Phil Scheer, Me,
and Seminarian Tom Gignac.
Just part of our fraternity.

In the congregation was a man and his son.  I went to their home for Thanksgiving.  There was a woman who brings her daughter to Mass most weeks.  She provides total care for her daughter who is bound to a wheelchair.  Bringing her daughter to Mass requires a herculian effort, but she does it with a smile.  She also used to bring her Dad to Mass.  He was in his nineties and she took care of him too.  He died about a month ago.

There was Eda who asked me if I had seen Paul at Mass because he hadn't been feeling well recently.  She and Paul went to the prom together--about 75 years ago.  There was a request to pray for somebody who is undergoing surgery this week.  There was Tyler--an altar boy--who serves Mass all of the time.  I wore beautiful vestments donated by Bill, whose mother was born on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and was married on that day too.  Grace wasn't there.  She used to sit in the second to last row on the Blessed Virgin side of the church, but her husband died last week and she's not doing well. 

The music duirng communion was Gregorian Chant.  People like Gregorian Chant . . . if they are ever exposed to it.  The youth group sold Advent candles in the back of church, Brian--one of the seminarians from the parish helped,--the school sold wreaths outside, Joan whose daughter has Lupus was limping, Mary Helen's arthritis was eased enough to make it to Mass, Juanita is out of the hospital, and before Mass a lot of people came to confession.

On Sunday morning, I talked to a young couple who have a beautiful newborn baby.  I told them that I want to baptize him soon.  He has a beautiful name and was born on October 2nd.  I told the parents that October 2nd is the Feast of the Guardian Angels.  They said that they knew that because they lost twin boys at 13 weeks of age and they often think about them with their guardian angels.  What a privilege it is to be a parish priest and to know these things and to see the faith of these beautiful people.

There were three seminarians here this weekend.  It is a privilege to see them grow in their vocation.

I chatted with one guy about his work and his family.  We were just standing around talking.  He's become a friend.  Friendships don't happen quickly.  They take time.  Being a shepherd takes time.

I spent time after the Five talking with a young woman who has just experienced a tragedy in her life.  She's a convert to the Faith and is such a remarkable witness.  I saw an elderly woman there whose son is very sick.  I celebrated the Funeral Mass for one of her sons and for one of her grandsons.  The lector at one of my Masses is responsible for a lot of employees.  He said that his main goal is to keep everyone employed and not to lay anyone off. 

I saw other people today who probably dislike me.  Some probably have very good reason for that.  Pastors make mistakes, have bad days, and say stupid things sometimes. Others might be mad for silly reasons.

All of that might sound mundane and boring to some.  But to me, they are my flock.  They are not an ambiguous mass of persons.  They are particular persons with particular situations and particular sufferings and particular joys.  Christianity is not about generalizations.  It is about particulars.  Jesus became flesh in a particular place at a particular time of a particular woman with a particular name.  Priesthood is about tending to particular persons.

At the end of the weekend, the priest with whom I live and work and I sat in the common room of our rectory and conversed.  We talked about many things.  We discussed particular parishioners who are ill, suffering, dying etc.  We talked about what we think is best for the future of our two parishes.  We talked about our own lives as shepherds.  And, we laughed a lot too.  Having a great flock is a beautiful gift.  Another great gift for me is sharing the pastoral burden with a wonderful brother priest.  Our fraternity--and by extension, the fraternity of all of the seminarians and priests who come here--serves the people well.  I think that the people can easily see that our fraternity makes us better priests.

Sunday is awesome.

1 comment:

  1. Agree deeply with your sentiments Father. The Eda of whom you speak may be my great aunt... she's a regular at St. Mary Star of the Sea. Peace to you and your ministry.
    Scott Morin