Monday, June 18, 2012
Keep Up the Good Fight
"Father, you do not know but..." are words a priest, writing a weekly column Life in the World and Religious Life in the Catholic Times, says he hears often when approached by people who are having difficulty with some aspect of their lives, and need to talk to somebody about it.
In a recent meeting of young workers he attended, he heard them complain about their bosses at work, their married life or about getting married, the difficulty of living a virtuous life, and many other annoying daily concerns. Along with his desire to get assimilated into the group, he was often tempted to add his words of wisdom to the mix, feeling at times that he had some of the answers they were looking for; thankfully, he said, he was able to keep his mouth shut. However, one woman did address him with her problem.
"Father, you do not know but when it comes time to get our pay checks, and looking over what I have to take out for this or for that, there is nothing left. There is nothing that I can save. Do you understand this feeling I have? I don't want to hurt the family or myself, but life is difficult. However, there is nothing else for me to do but to go on living."
Her plaintive words still resound in his head: "Father, you do not know but..." He felt ready to explain and interpret and teach, and when he does, he said, they listen. But the words, he admits, do not bring them deeper into what they are feeling. When I just listen, however, they are able to go deeper and come to a solution they are able to put into words for the group.
Listening to the difficulties of the group, he was hearing much that he did not know, and realized that the words he could have shared with them would not have helped much. As a priest and religious he often hears about the pain and difficulties of daily life, and about the desire for consolation and love that was also present in his own life. Now, when he hears the words "Father, you do not know but...," followed by a recitation of the difficulties of life, all he wants to say is: "Keep up the good fight."