Thursday, September 30, 2004

I am sure that my brother priests are going to grin about this, and say, "welcome to the priesthood newbie," but I am going to say it anyway. I miss being able to just go into a church an pray before the Blessed Sacrament. The seminary spoiled me; Jesus was just down a few flights of steps, and no one ever really bothered you when you were trying to pray. Now as a priest, while some have said that they think it is neat to see me trying to pray, even saying "I don't know when was the last time I saw a priest praying the Rosary," that doesn't seem to stop them from just then interrupting me at prayer. I guess it hasn't occurred to them that that might be the reason why they have not seen priests praying before the Blessed Sacrament as much.

OK, I realize that I am gripping, and it is a bit of a reaction, but it just happened to me again. I think I have mentioned that one of the really wonderful things about my assignment is that we celebrate the sacrament of reconciliation a lot. I mean A LOT! It is scheduled everyday, except Sunday, and usually for a good size block of time (always at least a half hour, but frequently longer than that). On the Thursday before First Fridays (yes, we have kept that devotion too here at St. James), we hear Confessions for an hour. I was scheduled to hear confessions today, and as is typical, there was a rather constant flow of penitents. When I was done, I thought I would take the time to pray the Rosary before the Blessed Sacrament before dinner. I was in meditation on the Second Mystery of Light, when two people came up and asked, "Father, aren't you hearing confessions?" Now, I hate to just turn people away from Confession, not wanting to discourage someone who might have been away from the sacrament for a long time, but I must confess (Mea culpa!) that the thought "Couldn't you just come when we had it scheduled?" crossed my mind. Granted, it probably is not speaking well of my charity, but it has been a busy week, yesterday a meeting was scheduled during my day off, I have things scheduled every night this week -- Father just wanted to spend some quite time in prayer to recharge the spiritual batteries. I have tried sitting in the sanctuary, thinking that would be a clearer sign that I just want to pray, but it seems that the sanctuary is no longer a sanctuary from the "Oh, Father..."

My dear friends, just a bit of advice, please let your priests take some time for prayer. If you see him praying before the Blessed Sacrament, really stop and ask yourself, "Is this really an emergency that I need an answer now, or can I wait for Father to finish praying or call him later?" As a recent report on the projection of priests for my diocese shows (and I have to think that the trend is about the same in most dioceses), there will be nearly 50% fewer priests by the year 2030. In addition to increasing our prayers and fasting for vocations to the priesthood, we need to keep those we have healthy, especially spiritually healthy. Let Father pray.

No comments: