OST OF THE YEAR, I work seven days a week, working at two Church jobs. Lamenting the difficulty of juggling family life with small children and with jobs that keep me busy all weekend and evenings, I realize I must temper my grievance. It is far better to be too busy as a musician than not busy enough.
But the end of Psalm 23 at times has an ironic meaning for me: “I shall live in the house of the LORD all the days of my life.” Through no virtue of my own, it sure seems to be working out that way. Working in the “house of the Lord” everyday is often far from easy. But it is cause for deep gratitude. As Psalm 23 begins, “The Lord is My Shepherd, I shall not want” God provides all that we need “even though I walk through the dark valley…”
As such, I hear difficult news from time to time from fellow colleagues. Immensely talented and devoted to the Church, they find themselves under-employed or suddenly unemployed for reasons that range from economic to ideological. At one time or another, all of us go through some experience similar to this.
Yet our wounds are often another reason to remain grateful—not easy to comprehend while walking through the dark valley. To live in the house of the Lord requires obedience to His wants and desires. This sometimes requires pruning and trial. Eventually, we will derive meaning from such suffering which fuels our service to others.
RIESTS, WHILE NOT IN DANGER of losing a job, at times suffer much in service to the Church. They are human, lest we forget! These days in Boston, a lot of priests are getting moved around as part of the Disciples in Mission pastoral plan of the Archdiocese of Boston. Changes in assignments no longer follow the old expectations. A lot of pastors are no longer pastors, either by choice or not. Others are now assigned to multiple parishes—not unusual in other parts of the country. The Church is changing.
This is very difficult for many priests for a variety of reasons. In light of such changes, one priest who was reassigned from his beloved parish to take charge of multiple parishes elsewhere remarked, that (in contrast) “celibacy is easy. Obedience is difficult.”
Amen. Obedience is difficult for us all, whether we take a vow or not.
O, I RECENTLY ATTENDED a school concert at St. Agatha’s Parish in Milton, Massachusetts where my children attend. The entire concert was planned as a tribute to the longtime pastor. Fr. Peter Casey, who after seventeen years of service was being reassigned. In a time of decreasing enrollment in Catholic schools, St. Agatha School has enjoyed robust enrollment, thanks in large part to Fr. Casey.
After a deeply heartfelt tribute to his longtime service, Fr. Casey spoke a few words. True to form, he was brief and to the point; tranquil, yet commanding in his leadership. I cannot recall all of his exact words, but this much he made clear: On a night all about him, he deflected attention from himself to God. He wanted the focus on Jesus’ relationship with us, on the value of Catholic education, and God’s loving and ever-present role in our lives. All about God—all in a few short minutes.
Anyone who knew him expected no less. But it was extraordinary to witness. Fr. Casey was teaching until the end just as he always had for seventeen years.
It was a lesson in humility, which obedience requires. To live in the house of the Lord all the days of our lives is a privilege and a joy. We will experience it if we are humble enough to open the door and walk in.