For the past couple of weeks our pastor has been on vacation. In his place has been an old Irish priest who lives in residence at our Parish. When I say “old” I am not as interested in his age as in his religion. We have been privy to terms such as “co-habitive fornication,” to concepts as “If you have remarried after divorcing than you are simply committing adultery” and many other pre-Vatican II stances. I have sat in my pew squirming because this is not what our parish stands for. I know there are many out there that do, and bully for them, but we do not. We believe in the overall Gospel message of love, forgiveness and redemption. We believe in the tradition that looks not only contextually but spiritually at the word of God. We believe in a tradition much like that of the Jews, (oh! Look there, Jesus’s tradition) that looks deeply into the message that God wants to convey to us, his limited creatures. We do not bandy around the word of God but we humbly approach it and hope to get to it’s heart. This is also the essence of our faith.For these reasons, I sat and listened respectfully to what our priest in residence was saying. For these reasons I had a physical reaction. My thoughts are always, “what if there is someone out there for the first time, what are they hearing?” It was nothing shy of torture. I didn’t want to go back until I knew things were back as they should be.I went to church today reluctantly, not sure that our pastor was back. (I should preface all of this with his forewarning that he will be gone because this always happens in his absence). Then I saw the older priest and I sighed and I asked God to help me to be humble and simply hear what he wanted me to hear. I asked to not be so stuck into my own understanding that any other makes me internally crazy. I asked that if there was someone out there, please let today’s message be the message that they needed. Then I sat in a distanced manner and listened to the readings that were immediately and decidedly more upbeat than last weeks.After the Gospel, I looked up and standing in the wings waiting to deliver the homily was my Pastor. As always, a real wave of relaxation washed over me. He stood back but stood firm in owning his parish. Owning the message that we have come to know over time. It is one of the times I can truly appreciate what it means to Pastor. It is one of the only times that I look at that position and understand the vocation in its entirety. Because of this, I am humbled and I pray for more vocations. I asked myself, what if that were a woman, would you still be ok? I answered honestly, yes. I would be ok because it is the heart that stands there. The commitment to his family, the parish. The commitment to God, to care for all of us. The knowledge that the message matters…the message of love, care and acceptance. The message of forgiveness and redemption. I went over to him after mass and said, “next time, please take me by the arm and say ‘Annette, I won’t be here for the next 2 weeks'” and he laughed. Gotta love a priest that gets it. And I do, I am so grateful for our Pastor, God bless his ministry.
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Wife, mother, blogger. Director of Faith Formation at an upstate inner city Catholic parish. Have facilitated adult faith groups. I love to garden even when it goes wrong. Same with writing...and we know it can go wrong. But here is where my love of God and love of writing intersect.