I guess I've been kind of down on stuff lately; I can see it in all of the ponderous posts and mystifying of my frustrations in my writing. It's true that the parish priest trade--the life in which I now find myself--can be tiring and difficult. The hours are terrible, someone is always mad at you and calling you a rotten priest, wedding paperwork is tedious, sacrilegious "eulogies" at funerals poison your heart with boredom. You have to get up early and work in the evening. Nothing ever seems finished and there are always more fires to put out and another wedding or funeral coming in.
So it all begs the question: why do it? What keeps a person going? Well, the first answer is certainly a desire to love God and to serve him as best you can, responding to the vocation which is a such a gift and so wound up with God's merciful Providence in your own life. But day to day, on the natural level, what keeps me going and what helps me stay positive is the simple holiness of ordinary people.
It's the devotion of secret saints. People of all ages who would wouldn't think of going through a day without Holy Communion, or a visit to the Blessed Sacrament, or the afternoon rosary. Thank you. I see you in church and you are my teachers. It's you in the confessional who are working your particular ascesis much harder than I'm working mine. Thank you for your encouragement and good example.
It's the beautiful practices of charity. People who save box tops and can wrappers in order that money be donated to some worthy cause. People who make secret donations to the parish food pantry. Folks who visit and check on their elderly neighbors.
It's the tremendous sacrifices of ordinary Christians. Adult children who give up opportunities, up to and including families of their own, to take care of sick or aged parents and siblings. Poor folks who pay the church's heat bill by the crumpled bills they stuff into the votive light boxes. It's the parents who work so hard because of the opportunities they want their kids to have. May my celibacy never make me ignorant of your sacrifice.
So as blue as I can get sometimes, and as heavy are my own temptations to arrogant criticism, I am humbled and grateful for the chance to work as a servant of the saints.