Future Priests of the Third Millennium

A little insight into the life of seminarians from various dioceses preparing for ministry as Roman Catholic priests, including daily activities, personal interests, special events, the spiritual life, news from the seminary, and almost whatever comes to our minds!

Monday, June 23, 2008

A Different Kind of Weary

Perhaps to Dcn. Mike's surprise, not all is fun and games here on the Rez. I do not get the chance to fly an airplane every day, but I must say, I am not likely to pass up the opportunity when it comes my way.

I am not busy here as I am used to being busy. Daily Mass is at 8:30 AM, which is mid-morning by most parochial standards. There are not a lot of appointments during the day. There are not a lot of meetings, especially over the summer. I have only three people on my homebound list (though there are many more who could use a visit, but have never called to tell us so). There is no nursing home in this little village. So, how do I while away the hours?

Well, first of all, I have the leisure to spend a good deal of time preparing my homilies. As I preach every weekend, I appreciate this liberty. Secondly, the sisters are always going somewhere to do something. For instance, last week I went to the village of Cherry Creek to attend a seminar taught by a Catholic Social Services Counselor dealing with the topic of co-dependency. After the seminar, we did some home visits together. One evening I attended an Altar Society meeting in a small town called Dupree (they bribed me with rhubarb cake). I have also been out to the village of Red Scaffold to help one of the sisters with her summer catechism classes for the children.

So, I spend a good deal of time out and about, and to be out and about in this assignment means to be on the road. Our nearest mission parish is about seventeen miles away. The furthest is eighty-three miles from here. All in all, we minister to the people of nine different parishes. Thus, to see our people - to try to be with them - requires a tremendous number of hours on the road.

I spend some of my time just trying to be visible. I walk to the post office some mornings just for the exercise, because that is where people hang out in the morning. I walk up and down main street at nightfall because that is when a different group of people comes out. The Lakota are not quick to trust, and they are not going to trust me until they get used to seeing me around.

Even with these things, though, I tend to have quite a lot of free time. Nevertheless, I find that I experience a certain sort of weariness that is altogether unlike the weariness that is derived from a day like those described by Dcn. Michael or a week like Dcn. Greg.  Mine, I think, is a weariness akin to that of the parent of a wayward child. The parent loves and loves, but there seems to be no response on the part of the child. The child probably means no harm, but at the same time, they offer no consolation by way of demonstrating that the love has any effect in their lives.

"In what way is this like my own ministry?" you might query. Well, on Saturday I preached a homily for two people. They sat in the back row. As I was preaching, I could see out the windows of the Church where there were Catholics sitting outside their house down the street, eating their meal and enjoying the evening sun. Earlier in the week, only one woman attended the co-dependency workshop. She came only because we drove the ten extra miles to bring her. On Sunday, in Red Scaffold, I preached to a mostly empty church again. I am giving. Are they receiving?

The point of this is not to create a pity-party. It is quite the opposite, actually. The experience is not one of desolation. Rather, there is a deeper sense of consolation hidden in these experiences. I think that a great temptation for members of the "helping professions" is to do for others because of the way they respond in return. We are immediately rewarded for our efforts. These last couple of weeks, though, have had none of that. The reward, paradoxically, is the absence of a reward. It feels true, genuine, holy. It is the realization that this is not my work, and it is not by my strength that it is being accomplished. It is not about me.

St. Paul writes, "But, even if I am poured out as a libation upon the sacrificial service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with all of you." (Philippians 2:17). I expect that he was weary too. How generously God has treated me to have called me to this vocation!


Shirley said...

I think you are going to make a very good priest.Preach your sermons to the few, for they are as beloved as the many, and speak your words out of love for God, and soon the few will be many.

J. Thorp said...

This post, and your attitude, are inspiring. Thanks again, my friend.

Anonymous said...

once again, brilliant...

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