Monday, February 23, 2004

Nobody asked but it's just cluttering my brain...

I met Fr. Benedict when I was on the spiritual year which would have been 1995 or 1996. I can't recall if it was fall or spring. I had looked forward to his visit for some time. I had heard all sorts of good things about him. I had powered through a couple of his books. As part of the retreat he conducted he offered time for one-on-one conversations. I signed up as soon as I could.

We walked around the spacious grounds of the seminary and I told him about myself and about the struggles I had had thus far in the seminary. He was very compassionate and unlike anyone to that point in the seminary "system," he understood the pain and evil I had experienced. At the same time, did not act as though it couldn't be talked about or was some kind of secret. He called my parents' divorce evil, a deprivation of a good that should have been present. I just cannont express my joy at my encounter with him.

So as our time together neared an end, he looked at me and said, "If you are going to make it through the seminary, it is going to take a lot of courage on your part." Courage was necessary if I could both confront the past and discern what God was calling for. As I progressed through the seminary in Philly, our paths crossed from time to time. He even conducted my retreat in preparation for priestly ordination.

And for all these things, but most especially that commitment to courage, I thank him. I wouldn't be a priest for this one brief encounter. Courage is now one of my watchwords. It takes courage to reform one's life. It takes courage to proclaim the Resurrection. It takes courage to live the Gospel.

I thank God that he has not taken Fr. Benedict back yet. I still want to let Teresa, my sister, spend time with him. She loves Fr. B, I suspect, because of everything he has given to me. I still want to go on a retreat with him again.

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