Saturday, September 10, 2011

Priestly Ministry

Sometimes in my vacant moments the thoughts would come to me whether I did accomplish anything in my life.As a priest, I was a silent wayfarer in this long march of humanity. For most of the people, they have families to think of .Through their work and sacrifice, they struggle hard to form future generations.Their children carry the imprint of their lives for generations to come.Their sacrifices and their struggles bear fruit in the lives of their children.Others through their positions of political or social prominence have left their impact on the society.What about us , priests? What are our legacies?

The word s of Gerard Manley Hopkins in one of his sonnets known as the Terrible Sonnets do beautifully express my misgivings about priestly life. Speaking of the birds,he said, they build.At least they build their nests.But priests--What do they have?Nothing. Moving from place to place, having no roots, they leave no foot prints behind.

Our impact on people is easily forgotten.People may sometimes for a little longer period remember us but once we get older and move away from the scene of our activities, we are often forgotten.We become distant memories as the people of our age move or fade away from life.

Is there any message that I can give from my life? All that I have is what every Christian has--my faith in Jesus and my love for him.I know He will not abandon me. That is all I have. I f I lose that there would be nothing in my life that would give me peace and joy. No Bishop, no priest will be there to support me.The same is also true with regard to me too. I won't be there to support them. Each one is on his own. It is that thinking that is sometimes frightening.

At this age of my life, I do have very few friends with whom I can communicate freely and openly.Those with whom I have worked have moved away or are in places where I cannot reach.

I don't think any one has seriously studied the inner lives of priests. Most of the priests from the Indian background that I have come across are concerned with their position in the church and hence their interest is in keeping a good and balanced relationship with their Bishop.It is a life of total dependence.Of course, their faith and love of Jesus will keep them safe and happy in their personal lives.

By the grace of God, in my personal life, as I was teaching in the college, I was protected by the laws of the State from the vengeance or envy of others. Also my Bishops were very considerate to me and they gave me a lot of opportunities for service. I am thankful to them because without their support, I would not have come to this position in my life. I have only words of gratitude to them and to also all the good priests that I worked with at Chanancherry ,Kerala.

I have only words of joy and thanks at this age in my life.I have to praise and thank the Lord for those blessings.

What gives strength to priests is their faith in and love for the Lord.There was a lot of emotional tensions in my life on account of the celibate life that I have chosen. It is because of the pure grace of God and of his unbounded mercy and forgiveness that I am able to continue my ministry.

So, do I have a message for others? What have I learned in my life? What can I tell others?

Just what Jesus has told us---Love one another.Show respect to others.

With regard to priests, I have to say the following:" Don't speak ill of others, priests or lay people.Do what we can in the best way possible.We should not step on the toes of others for our personal advancement."

Our prayer life should make us more soft and gentle, forgiving and compassionate and not hard-hearted and arrogant.What is the meaning of our prayers if we cannot talk to someone in a very understanding manner ?Our prayers and observances of rituals will be only smokescreens , hiding our selfishness and arrogance, if we are not compassionate and loving.

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