Friday, February 22, 2008

My day...

The snow is pouring down, and I'm at a low ebb in energy, so I'm not going to get much more work done tonight; in a bit, I'll head back to the rectory at the other parish, where there is a fish fry tonight; alas, the turnout may not be so good, and the food was partly prepared last night, so we can't do much about it now.

The last couple of hours I worked on a letter to a volunteer, who had some questions that relate to "fairness"; I won't say more, obviously out of consideration for that volunteer. But if you wonder why I spent a while on the letter, well, the "care and feeding" of volunteers is pretty important.

So is the "care and feeding" of the faithful, whoever they are. Again--no details--but occasionally I get a call, or an email, from folks far away who seek advice. I do what I can; but for this reason, I don't publish my email. It's not that I don't want to help, but I can't. I'm not like the "700 Club" with it's bank of "prayer counselors"!

A lot of the day seemed taken up with lots of little of the secretaries is working on a letter to most of the households in the parish about some building fund needs, several questions about that; other staff members had other questions; several phone calls and messages; mail to open and so forth.

The day started with a finance committee meeting at 7 am; that's when people can come. We finished that around 8:30 am, then to Mass, back at the other parish. Then back here, only to find I had to run to the hospital, back by around 11:30, and the rest I already described.

I was going to review the week, but...this gives you a flavor.


Anna B. said...


By the late John J Cardinal Carberry

Keep them; I pray Thee, dearest Lord.

Keep them, for they are Thine

The priests whose lives burn out before

Thy consecrated shrine.

Keep them, for they are in the world,

Though from the world apart.

When earthly pleasures tempt, allure --

Shelter them in Thy heart.

Keep them and comfort them in hours

Of loneliness and pain,

When all their life of sacrifice

For souls seems but in vain.

Keep them and remember, Lord,

they have no one but Thee.

Yet, they have only human hearts,

With human frailty.

Keep them as spotless as the Host,

That daily they caress;

Their every thought and word and deed,

Deign, dearest Lord, to bless.

Anonymous said...

We are so blessed with all of the hard work that you and all our priests perform. Our priest is extremely overworked and suffering from loneliness for his home overseas which is comepletely different from his life here. Any general suggestions on how we can show our priests appreciation? I always think a dinner out but my husband thinks this adds yet 1 more time commitment to his busy schedule.

Father Martin Fox said...


That's a great question.

Inviting the priest over for dinner is often nice, but it depends on the priest; so my advice is offer, but don't insist.

I very much enjoy having dinner in people's homes, especially when I can meet their families. I have had families invite me along to the pumpkin festival and that is fun too.

Some of us also like going out and "shooting the breeze" -- so maybe your husband and some other men of the parish would like to invite the priest out "for a beer," guys' night out.

But your priest might like time alone; so maybe fix him a dinner and drop it off.

Finally, would you like to know what is the greatest reward you can give a priest?

Let him know something he's done has made a difference.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Fox, upon reading the report of your day, somehow I didn't get the impression of burnout that some other posters seemed to sense.

To me you sounded just exactly like
99.9% of the rest of us midwesterners who are at this point somewhat beaten down by constant winter miseries - the cold, the snow, the confinement, the cheerless skies, the plagues of sinus, cold, and flu. . .we are almost all feeling a bit deflated in the joyful attitude department!

Sometimes reading priest blogs makes me wonder if a misplaced sense of negativity or pathos is starting to creep into the laic perception of priestly life, as if priests have given up all fun, security, personal life, and freedom to pursue the Lord's work. In this view, your occasional and normal lack of joie de vivre would stem from being "an overburdened clergyman", rather than a sharing in the same ennui we are all feeling at the end of another gray and frigid February.

Though as a woman I have never practiced your kind of life and therefore cannot know for sure, I have to say this sad and pitiful impression is not what I envision as a priest's fate - not at all!

The thing is, if people keep saying, "Oh, you poor thing!" and "God help you!", it can become a self-fulfilling notion to where priests (though not you - I see no sign of this in your case!) could come to view themselves as pitiful and hopeless - or those who perhaps have had urges toward a ministerial vocation may think second thoughts upon hearing how grim and miserable that life must be.

Sometimes when I read of a priests' burden of responsibilities I think, "How can they go on?" - yet in the life of ordinary laypeople, what do we see on close inspection but lay folks who are often under terrible duress? In one neighborhood there is a woman caring for a severely demented elderly parent. Her life is way more restricted than any priest's. Somewhere else a young couple has lost their first child to illness. A father approaching retirement age has lost his job to company downsizing, along with the family's health insurance and his pension. A woman with four children in college develops fibromyalgia and cannot work or even cope with daily chores. Another family has young adult twins who become addicted to cocaine and enter a life of degradation. Add to random tragedy the daily grind of childrearing, intermittent illness or surgeries,
helping others through their difficulties, widowhood, the losses of aging - it takes alot of sleepless nights and tears to be a human being on this earth!

There is struggle, loss, work, fatigue, sadness, and loneliness in every single life. Even apart from major tragedy, daily family life requires ongoing negotiation and courage, hard work, sacrifice, dedication, and huge reservoirs of patience and compassion.

Comparing the lay life with the clerical life is like comparing pineapples to kumquats, but the bottom line is, every human life and every vocation in life is equally fraught with joys and miseries. Let us not feel too sorry for one another on either side, because that only diminishes the honor of our particular struggle to please God by doing our utmost in whatever vocation to which he has called each of us.

Thanks for being the kind of priest whose down times are not pathological in nature, but are clearly reflective of the same old human frailties we all own!


Adrienne said...

My pastor lives next door and the greatest gift we give him is to leave him alone.

We recognized he is not that much of a "people person" in the sense of yucking it up all the time. He is very private and so we give him lots of space.

I have a daylily nursery and he loves to garden so our best conversations are out in the "back forty" in the summer (we each have 5 acres)

To show our appreciation for what he does for us as a priest, we do lots of yard stuff for him.

Anonymous said...

Father, if that's just one day, I can only imagine what the rest of the week must have been like. May God energize you, and continue to help you "keep on keepin' on". I can only add "Amen" to that beautiful prayer for priests. Here in Canada, we're also having a tough winter, with lots of snow, etc., so it's no surprise when the occasional bout of cabin fever sneaks up. Also, it doesn't help to start the day with a 7 am finance meeting -- my eyes would glaze over, LOL! Anyway, a glance at the calendar says that Spring is just a couple of wks. away, and today is the 3rd Sunday of Lent, which means there's a light at the end of the tunnel. God bless you, Father.

Patricia Gonzalez