From time to time when I tell someone I am a priest, they will answer in a jovial
tone, ‘Great job, sure you only work one day a week’ and we both laugh!
Once upon a time I would have be a bit defensive and explained what a working
day can involve in pastoral ministry, but now a smile and a shrug are enough.
When the Level 3 restrictions kicked in last Friday at midnight, and Confirmations
were cancelled, Masses curtailed and appointments disappeared from my diary,
I felt that comment sort of rang true.
What do we do when normal life is disrupted, when we are not sick, or on holidaysand yet can’t do so many of the regular activitiesthatshape the day, give meaning to our life and keep us in contact with others? Back in March when the first lockdown was announced I, like many people, found some pleasure in the gentle pace of life, the emergence of bird song and the ever longer, warmer evenings.
Nature rallied round and made time in the outdoorsinviting, working in the garden rewarding and being up forsunrise orsunset a pure joy. This time it feels different. Shorter days, less need for the gentle pace, more frustrations with all the commitmentsto children waiting for their Confirmation or Communion to happen before they grow out of the expensive clothes bought in good faith for a day that drifts off into the future. I, like most of the parish can manage this setback for three weeks. But if it continues into the future, challenges how we mark
Christmas, continues to isolate priest from people, from schools, homes and hospitals, from friends and culture, then I, like you, will have to find a new way to connect with the parishioners, family and friends.
We may need to build on Zoom and the various ways of meeting online and share
prayer, offer support and be in communion with each other. We might find some reflective or creative activity that we can do at home and bring to the Church for display. Doing nothing, just working one day a week, is not an option! My grandmother was a great woman for
advice, ‘put on your thinking cap’ she would say at a time like this.
So let’s ponder, pray and discern a way to meet the challenges that will be with
us for some time to come.