Friday, July 13, 2012

Being of the one Doing

A priest, reminiscing with friends concerning the times they spent together on Mondays for talks on different aspects of their work, remembers that it was not easy to sit attentively while hearing lectures. He mentioned that during these lectures a few of the priests were valiantly trying to keep themselves from dozing, and the professor, seeing the effort, commented that they must have had a busy weekend.

This incident was recalled by the priest in his column for the Catholic Times. At the time, the speaker, was an assistant priest who was responsible for the funeral and wedding Masses, morning Masses, and Masses for the young; it was a busy week, he told the Professor, who was surprised at the answer. "I understand the work that you are doing, he said, "but it seems to me that when you are saying Masses it should recharge you to do your work with new vigor and energy."

From that time on, the priest never ever said he was tired from the Masses he said. Many decades have passed and the Masses and communions have been a source of recharging and renewal for the work.

The Mass has, indeed, been life-giving. An antidote to our common experience of life, which at times is difficult and tedious, leaving us with a feeling of burn out, and dreaming of the kind of existence we would like to enjoy. Stress is felt by all of us. Even priests, who have devoted their lives to the service of others, find that even relating with their parishioners and fulfilling the requirements of a sacramental life can be tiring and unsatisfying.

It is at those times that we have to reflect not on what we are doing as much as on the one doing. Our being is what is important. By focusing on the one doing the work, we nourish the work, making it more effective in helping others. Seeing  ourselves with different, more understanding eyes allows us to receive new strength for the work. God has led us to where we are. We should trust that he will continue to move us with grace, making our response one of surprise and  gratitude--and more effective.

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