The ministry of parish priest has held a lot of surprises for me, some pleasant, others not. One of the most notable as time goes by is that for the first time in my life I find myself relationally embedded in a local community of ordinary life. Relationships that used to be mere transactions now point to other human relationships and spiritual connections.
Here's my mechanic fixing my car. I offered the funeral Mass for his father. Here's the pizza guy. I witnessed his marriage to the local dog groomer. Here's the beat cop. I prayed with her when we had to bury her murdered little brother. Here's the beer distributor guy. He knows I'm a "monk" and so he's always trying--in vain--to sell me a case of Chimay Bleue. He doesn't believe me when I tell him I've been to the monastery where they make it, but it's true.
On the morning I was ordained priest my formation director advised me, "Think on the Communion of Saints; that's the only way this makes sense." That advice was a help to me that day and ever since. True, we keep our communion with the Church Triumphant in mind in all we do, but there is also a communion of saints in the neighborhood.