Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Priesthood and the Little Things

It's the little stuff.  That's what moves me about being a priest.  It's usually not the stuff that would make for an interesting vocations' commercial.  Sure, like every priest, I've had those moments when I've found myself in the midst of a "big" story.  I've had those moments when I've anointed someone at an accident scene moments before they've died.  But, it's really the little stuff that moves me.  Now, I know that the things I'm about to mention actually aren't "little."  No more, for instance, than the little moments that fill up the life of a father or mother.  While they might be proud of their children when they graduate from college, probably what they most love about being a parent are not those "big moments," but the memory of a little child crawling into bed in the morning and talking about life, or sledding after a winter storm.  For me, priesthood is in these moments.  The every day moments.

"Father, do you have time for a confession?"  Do you know how great it is to hear a young person ask that question?  Now, I know that confession isn't a "little thing," but it is something I am asked routinely. 

Getting a call or a text from somebody who really isn't living their Catholic Faith any longer.  Sometimes, as a priest, you find yourself the last thread of attachment for someone.  They have drifted away from everything Catholic, except for you.  While it breaks my heart to see someone no longer practice the Faith, it is a beautiful privilege to be an instrument of attachment.  Usually, these conversations are not about religion or Faith.  

Sometimes, the hard work of being "an instrument of attachment" pays off and the person comes back to the Faith. 

When a young person shares that he is thinking about a vocation to the priesthood.  Total privilege.

Meeting with couples preparing for marriage, having dinner with families, and watching people raising their families.

Sitting in adoration today with about twenty young people.  Praying for them and for their intentions.  

Eating together.

Daily Mass.  (Yes, I know it is not a little thing.  But, it is part of the routine life of a priest)

Witnessing up close how God works in the lives of people.  

Watching a community of Catholics love one another.

Getting a humorous text from one of the kids.

Discussing theology and spiritual matters with someone.

Watching seminarians grow in their vocation.

Seeing how God is using good priests whom I encounter to do great work.

Being told by someone that they pray for me.

Preaching the Gospel every day.

Not an exhaustive list.  These are just things that pop to mind today; the routine things that make up my day.  They are the things that move me and make me grateful.  They are where most of my priestly life is lived.  It's in these small moments--lived mostly unseen or unnoticed--that the vast majority of priestly life is lived.  It's in many of these "little things" that a priest encounters others and enters into a profoundly close relationship.  We are privileged to draw near to another human being and to be trusted by them.  God uses our humanity as an instrument of encounter.  And in the process, he builds up the priest as well.  

Sometimes, it is easy to get caught up in the "big things."  Social media keeps us informed of every Catholic controversy everywhere.  It can dominate the Catholic social media.  Or, we can become too attentive to the "big things" of Church politics.  But, the little things are where it is really at.  This is where the Church lives.  Today, twenty college students and I had Mass together and then a Holy Hour.  It's a little thing.  Kind of like a seed that is planted in good soil.  It grows thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.  

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Fr Barnes. Reflecting on this as a parent I agree, the little things that we appreciate over time. Easy to loose sight of this, thanks for the reminder. Thank you for continuing to provide these thoughtful messages, grateful to have them.