Today's 1st reading stung of sensational irony as our new parochial vicar (brand new pastor) took his place at OLJ for the first time at the Saturday evening Mass:
Ez 2:2-5 As the LORD spoke to me, the spirit entered into me and set me on my feet,and I heard the one who was speaking say to me:Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites,rebels who have rebelled against me;they and their ancestors have revolted against me to this very day. Hard of face and obstinate of heart are they to whom I am sending you. But you shall say to them: Thus says the LORD GOD! And whether they heed or resist—for they are a rebellious house—they shall know that a prophet has been among them.
Now far be it from me to compare our lil' old parish up in Carefree Arizona to those stubbon, mule-hearted Israelites :-), however, in this Year of Priests, I wonder how much we consider what this domino effect/real estate deal gone mad/scooby shuffle of shepherds and folds really does to a man of God. No amount of seminary training adequately prepares one for the true upheaval and systematic wrecking of chaos upon what seemed to be a placid existence of answering a call to the vocation of priesthood. Not only must this man meet an entire parish and try to get to know them on a personal level, he must also endeavor to determine the true spiritual, formational, liturgical, financial "health" of his new parish. All this while answering multitudes of email/phone calls and dinner invitations and miraculous requests to turn loaves into fishes, tom toms into symphonies, fixing with expediency glaring liturgical misdeeds, such as major cleavage exposing EMHCs into less provocative and more modest volunteers (and that last one is as real as it gets). If there's an associate to meet, we have the added issues of compatibility, schedules, rectory orientation and the "let's see where we align" conversations that hopefully allow the two to peaceably co-exist for an undefined length of time under sometimes less than collaborative circumstances. (and don't forget food, pets and vacations).
And then there are the seasoned parishioners who consider themselves the fateful mentors of new priest on campus who feel it their own calling and dut to "work the new guy over and tell him how things should really run around here". You know - the "bend him to our will or die" parishioners who will be the first to storm off and leave the minute one of their best ideas falls flat at the threshold of new pastor's door. Ah yes, these are the things mighty-collared men must behold, deal with and let roll gracefully from their backsides.
And then there is staff. Oh wait, they are perfect. Nevermind.
Father Patrick says he'll answer to either Father Patrick or Father Farley. In my brain, I will inevitably call him Father Parley. I am sorry ahead of time. He offered an insightful yet personal homily this weekend and didn't even capitalize on the softball God threw him with the Ezekiel reading! Among other things he made us 3 promises:
1. To not steal the parish's money
2. To maintain the highest moral integrity
3. To keep us solidly on track on doctrine.
He also mentioned many times his willingness to grow with us in holiness and get to know us in the image and likeness that we were made. I would say he was very well received. I would also like to offer my gratitude for him all of the priests who have served at Our Lady of Joy and have offered their lives for the salvation of my soul. These promises have been upheld by each pastor that I have witnessed in my 13 years as a catholic and for this I remain grateful. As torch is passed from priest to priest, I hope you know how much you are all loved and prayed for.
Thank you, Lord, for all of our priests, young and old, fresh and seasoned, energized and tired. Help us to be a grateful flock and keep our obstinancy in check. We ask that You, Most Merciful God, continue the good works that you have begun in these men. May You bestow your lovingkindness upon each of them who bear You to our most needful world.
Is this a work of the Holy Spirit????? You betcha.