May 2, 2007

Average

One of the guilty pleasures of pursuing a religious or priestly vocation is thinking that you're special, different, or doing something heroic or remarkable. In fact it's more than a guilty pleasure; it's a genuine spiritual danger.

In this light I had to laugh when I read the report of the Center for Applied Research into the Apostolate on the priestly ordinandi of 2007 in these United States. Of the 475 transitional deacons to be ordained to the priesthood this year, I am totally typical and average. Like most, I am a white, European-American. I am exactly the average age (35), had the typical educational background when I came to the Order (college) and, like most, had previously worked in some kind of human services or education.

So my 474 brother transitional deacons have given me a little gift to help me avoid the sin of Luke's Pharisee:
"Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, `God, I thank thee that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I get.' But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, `God, be merciful to me a sinner!' (Luke 18: 10-13, RSV)

The lesson on prayer is, for me, Luke's genius. The Pharisee prays to himself, because the prayer is all about him, while the tax collector is the one who is really praying to God.

You can check out a pdf page of the CARA report here.

1 comment:

Jason said...

That's pretty cool. I often get the same feeling when I'm trying to picture myself as a priest. And it's easy to get that "I'm a hero" feeling because there are so few vocations and everyone looks up to you for just thinking about religious life! Glad to know that other people feel the same way.