When was the last time you had to get your driver’s license renewed? Once, before I became a priest, I went to the DMV to get myself legal. Everything went OK, until I had to get my picture taken. I was told to wait over by the wall while my picture developed. Suddenly the room was plunged into darkness.
I thought to myself, “Great, I wonder how long this is going to take?”
About 20 seconds later, an authoritative voice rang forth, “Dennis Meinen, get away from the light switch!”
As I write this, our country’s light switch is out. Like two small children, both parties accuse each other of breaking the piggy bank, but which one was leaning against the light switch?
As Mark Twain said, “The political and commercial morals of the United States are not merely food for laughter, they are an entire banquet.”
Has the light switch turned off in your parish home, too? So, whatcha gonna do?
Do you tread water and hope it will turn on again soon? Do you go to the parish the diocese says will be in the cluster you belong to or do you search for a parish where the priest meets your expectations?
One might ask, “Do I go to church because of the popularity of the priest?”
Hopefully we will respond, “No. I go to church because I love God.”
Keep in mind that your faith is “more than one parish.”
Let me repeat that. Your faith is more than one parish.
I remember reading a story about a priest celebrating the last Mass at his parish. There were not enough priests to supply a growing number of priestless parishes. The priest sadly concluded Mass, “The Mass is ended, go in peace,” but he knew from all the tear-stained faces that it probably wouldn’t happen.
After the cope (a vestment reserved for solemn occasions) was placed on him, he incensed the Blessed Sacrament and asked the people to join him. He went outside and followed the cross bearer and servers, as they encircled the church with the Eucharist, proudly and reverently displayed in the monstrance and prayed for the protection of the Bread of Life. When they concluded, he gently placed his vestments on the altar, turned around and prayed to St. John Vianney, patron saint of parish priests.
Prayer for Priests By St. John Vianney
God, please give to your Church today many more priests after your own heart.
May they be worthy representatives of Christ the Good Shepherd.
May they wholeheartedly devote themselves to prayer and penance; be examples of humility and poverty;
shining models of holiness; tireless and powerful preachers of the Word of God; zealous dispensers of your grace in the sacraments.
May their loving devotion to your Son Jesus in the Eucharist and to Mary his Mother be the twin fountains of fruitfulness for their ministry. Amen.
Father Dennis Meinen serves as chaplain at Holy Spirit Retirement Home, Sioux City, for Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts in the diocese, and Faithful Friar of the Garrigan 4th Degree Assembly of the Knights of Columbus, Sioux City.