Saturday, October 02, 2004

I am sure that the regular readers of CRM probably already have a better than average idea of the life of a parish priest, but I thought I would share some of the highlights of my week. In doing so I recall a book I read many years ago, I believe the priest's name who wrote it was Ken Roberts, and the book was called The Rest of the Week, a fictionalized account of what a priest does during the rest of the week.

Monday I was on duty for the hospital, but if I recall correctly, it was a slow day. I actually spent more time in the hospital having an ultrasound on my neck for a minor problem. Monday evening made up for the slowness of Monday morning and afternoon; first the 4 priests concelebrated a Mass at the convent in celebration of Mercy Day. Our convent has about 14 sisters, Religious Sisters of Mercy (RSMs), who have been teaching in our school for like 80 years (our grammar school is celebrating its 125th anniversary). Currently only two of the sisters teach in the school, and most of the rest are retired as the convent has become the retirement home for the community, at least for those who are ambulatory. A neat bunch of ladies. After Mass we had dinner. After dinner the pastor, me and another of the associates made an appearance at the golf outing dinner that raises money for the grammar school, while the other associate went to the Freshman Welcoming event at the HS. When I got back I went to the hospital to visit two people.

Tuesday was more tests at the hospital (OK, the doctors found a small mass in my thyroid that they sending me for all kinds of tests for. I feel fine, but ....). Of course in between there is Mass to be said, reading to do, phone calls to make, homilies to prepare, etc. That evening we went to a workshop on implementing the 3rd Edition of the GIRM; I do like the buttons they gave us priests; they have a picture of the Lectionary on it and it big letters, "STICK TO THE SCRIPT," and in small letters "Banter is for game-show hosts." I must admit loving the buttons; I will see if I can scan it into the computer, and then see if tech-monkey Stephanie or Dave can tell me how to post the picture. I want the poster.

Wednesday is suppose to be my day off, but someone from the Diocese's Education Office came to meet with the DRE, and since I am the moderator of that, I had to stay. I did take the afternoon and evening off; got my monthly comic books, and saw a movie.

Thursday is usually the day I realize that I still have not put as much time in on my Sunday homily as I planned to all week, so I close the door to my office to cut down on interrupts and work on that. In the afternoon, as you know, I had the Confessions before 1st Friday. After dinner I went to a neighboring parish to assist in the penance service for their confirmandi, and was reminded how blessed I am to be at my parish where there is a healthy devotional life so that people know how to go Confession and make an Act of Contrition.

Yesterday I was on duty again, but it was slow again. I had the First Friday Mass for the high school. Since we have too many students to fit them all into the church, each month we have a different class. Yesterday was the sophomores. For most of the Mass they just sat there and made no response. If it was not for the principal (who patrolled up and down the center aisle to make sure they behaved, and to stop the ringing cell phone) and the teachers, I would have thought I was celebrating Mass alone. Afterwards I told the students that they need to practice their responses for Mass so that they can participate, REALLY. I told them I would be willing to teach a workshop on the Mass if they needed it, but if they just sit there next time, I told them I would celebrate Mass "ad orientum" so I will not be distracted by their blank faces. That seemed to stun them. In the afternoon I met with a bride-to-be to explain that yes, lying to Father about a previous marriage (she said she did not have one, because it "didn't count" because it was by a judge not in the Church) could actually delay her December marriage because Father will not do it if he does not have a decree of nullity (which on the face should be given due to a lack of canonical form in the first marriage). Mother of the bride is not happy with Father, for some reason. Apparently it is all Father's fault that her daughter lied when she said that she had never been married before, and now they could be out hundreds of dollars. Then the mother got upset with the $50 filing fee for the annulment petition. After that I blessed Holy Water, kept working on the homily, and the workshop on the Mass I begin next week, and answered phone calls. I had to listen to one of the phone calls twice because I could not believe what they were asking me. As you probably know, the Feast of St. Francis is Monday, and like many parishes, we will have the Blessing of the Animals on Sunday. The caller said that she and her husband would not be able to be there on Sunday for the Blessing of the Animals so she wanted me to come the following weekend to bless their dog. Uh? Like Father doesn't have a lot of other things to do. She also was unhappy with me. I then went to the varsity football game for the ministry of being present. You really cannot underestimate the value of just being their with the kids and their parents for something like that.

Today I had Benediction at 6 a.m. (we have nocturnal Adoration on First Fridays) then the 6:25 a.m. Mass. Now is my "blog time". I have a couple from a former parish coming at 10 a.m. to talk to me about "something." Then Confessions from 11:30 a.m. until noon, and again from 4 p.m. until 5 p.m. Also this afternoon I have a marriage prep meeting.

Tomorrow I have the 8:15 a.m. Mass, Religious Education from 9 to 10 a.m. Baptisms at 1 p.m., Blessing of the Animals at 2 p.m., a Memoral Service at a Funeral Home at 3:15 p.m., and then the 5:30 p.m. I am also on call at the hospital, but I pray it will be quiet because I think I will be ready for bed by 8 p.m.

Now don't get me wrong, I love being a priest. I really love the diversity of activities to do, meeting people, trying to bring them closer to Jesus. It is so wonderful, and I would not trade it for anything. While I am sure that Frs. Tharp's and Hamilton's weeks are not identical to mine, I am equally sure that their schedule is full of the same kind of busy-ness, and that they love their ministry too. I also realize that all of you CRM readers have just as hectic lives. I have three sisters, all who have kids, so I have heard from them the running they have to do and the weariness of being the "mommy-on-call" 24/7/365. God bless you all. It is just sometimes I think people do not know what parish priests do the rest of the week. But at the end of a busy week, you know as I collapse into my recliner (where I sleep; I have given up on beds), I truly thank God for being so great and for calling me to be a priest and for the ministry He has entrusted to me. I hope that all of our CRM readers also thank God for the countless blessings in their lives. As the kids in the youth group likes to say (I think it is from a song), Our God is an Awesome God!

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