Thursday, April 3, 2014

Priesthood: Being Close to the People in Church and at Fenway Park

Fr. Karol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II) Camping with Lay Friends
During Lent, the Newman Center at Boston University has added a Holy Hour to its daily schedule, but on Thursdays--instead of having  the Holy Hour at the Newman House Chapel--a few of us walk to a nearby church.  This afternoon, four of us made our way over to St. Clement's Eucharistic Shrine in Boston and prayed our Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament.  To and from the the shrine, we discussed all manner of serious things: movies, the right moment to get the popcorn at the movies, whether fried clams without the bellies really even qualify as fried clams (I vehemently say, "no"), and many other serious topics.  

Then, for an hour, we sat in silence before the Blessed Sacrament and prayed.  It was awesome.  Because another priest had Mass today at the Newman House and I hadn't offered Mass yet, when we returned from the Holy Hour, two of us had Mass together.  

Both as a parish priest and now as a chaplain at the Newman House at Boston University, I have had the privilege of being close to the people with whom I serve.  I couldn't imagine it being any other way.  It is nice to live priesthood close to the people, to be encouraged by this closeness, and to encourage others through this closeness.  When I get up every day, I look forward to being with these great young people, praying with them, hearing their confessions, discussing serious things, goofing around with them, and being encouraged by their witness.  And when I get home each night to the rectory where I live, it is good to be in a good home with a great priest who is the pastor.

Living the Christian life together is a beautiful gift.  And tomorrow, I get to do it all over again.  Happily, tomorrow includes a bonus.  A former parishioner, the intern at the Newman House, and I will be living our Christian life together at opening day at Fenway Park!

One of my favorite quotes comes from The Confessions of St. Augustine.  It describes well for me what my daily life as a priest is like.  It is a life filled with the presence of Christ.

"There were other things done in their company which more completely seized my mind: to talk and to laugh with them; to do friendly acts of service for one another; to read well-written books together; at times to tell jokes and sometimes to be serious' to disagree at times, but without hard feelings, just as a man does with himself; and to keep our many discussions pleasant by the very rarity of such differences; to teach things to others and to learn from them; to long impatiently for those who were absent, and to receive with joy those joining us.  These and similar expressions, proceeding from the hearts of those who loved and repaid their comrades' love, by way of countenance, tongue, eyes, and a thousand pleasing gestures were like fuel to set our minds ablaze and to make but one out of many."

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