5.27.2007

The Importance of Our Priests

I have been so lax in updating this thing, b/c right now my Internet access has been cut way back. My home computer (actually my brother's old laptop, on loan until I can get my computer back from Muskogee) has a faulty network card (and is so old that getting a replacement would be more of a hassle than it's worth). Now the peeps at work have set up our Internet to where we can't do much of anything. Security issues, I suppose.

But I digress- after all, I do enough whining as it is, and I have something relevant to blog about today, so I suggest you get comfy because as anyone who knows me at all will tell you, I can be really long-winded.

The state of the priesthood, in our Archdiocese and beyond, is something that I have had on my mind a lot lately. This week, the priesthood comes more to the forte, as our parish celebrates the anniversaries of our priests' ordinations- Fr. John's 25th, Fr. Dan's 1st, and I'm not sure how long Fr. Louis has been ordained.

I have a distinct respect and love for priests. I've found that Catholics seem to enjoy a very different relationship with their clergy than the Southern Baptists of my upbringing did- much closer, a great deal more familiar. Of course, it helps that in all the masses I've attended in the past seven years, not once have I encountered a two-hour rant about Hell and backsliding that passes for the evangelical homily. (One of the major reasons I left the Baptist church was that they seem to constantly try to guilt you into being their idea of a better person, or to join something. Always with the guilt-tripping, to the point that I associated church with feeling like a total piece of trash, not to mention my butt going numb.)

Again, I digress. Personally, I've met a fair number of priests in my lifetime; some of them I've really hit it off with, and some I've maintained a respectfully formal relationship with. What they do is something incredibly special and amazing- they give so much of themselves to their parish. They don't marry, nor do they raise children (in the traditional sense). They pretty much have to be available 24-7 in the event that someone gets sick or dies or has need of them. I have no idea what the average work day entails for a priest (and if anyone could elucidate me on this point I'd be eternally grateful), but I understand it to be seriously busy work.

What bothers me is the shortage of priests that we could soon be facing. Actually, I think we're feeling it now- last year we had three priests, and they seemed to be under quite a workload. Now we only have two (and Fr. Louis part-time), and I don't imagine that our parish has had a drop in baptisms, funerals, and other sacramental-type events. I hear about the priest shortage quite a bit in the various forums I visit, and just in day-to-day conversation with other Catholics. It worries me; what the priest does is absolutely vital to the lives of Catholics- and all people, really, whether or not they know it. I have no idea of what measures our diocese would have to resort to if the shortage continues unabated, but it can't be good.

Sometimes, I wish there were more I could do to help. If I were a man, I'd be applying to seminary right now. But, I was born female, so it is obviously not up to me to help alleviate the situation. (As for the notion of women being priests, let me put it to you this way: I don't think the Vatican is changing their stance on the ordination of women. I am not inclined to disagree.) Even my brother, who is married, has said that if he were single he'd seriously consider the priesthood.

What I can do is to use my blog, a means of communication with a much bigger readership that I realized I had, to make a statement- nay, an appeal. If you are a single Catholic male, I urge you to at least seriously consider the priesthood. Yes, it's a sacrifice, but it's such an unimaginably huge privilege as well. The ability to administer the sacraments is tremendous in my book. The love of the parishioners for their priests is incredible.

As if this post weren't long enough, now it's time for me to acknowledge some terrific priests that have made an impact on my life.

1. Fr. Rex Arnold: You guys must be tired of hearing me go on and on about how great this guy is. But I owe him a serious debt of gratitude that I'm quite sure I could never repay. Fr. Rex is a major factor in my becoming Catholic. Converting is a process, and as many of you know I have very little patience with anything that I don't understand. Frankly, there's a lot about Catholicism that I still don't understand fully, but once again I digress. Fr. Rex participated quite a bit in our RCIA classes, and that's how I got to know him. It seems that every time I wanted to throw in the towel out of frustration (in the face of what seemed to be an overwhelming flood of information, and things I could potentially goof up), Fr. Rex was there to reassure me that it wasn't that complicated, really; I didn't have to know everything to be Catholic. I just had to believe. He is still someone who I have a great deal of reverence and affection for.

2. Fr. John Metzinger: My relationship with Fr. John is definitely more on the formal side. We've only ever really conversed once, for about an hour. I can't say that we're buddies. But I do love him dearly, if for no other reason than that he is my pastor. He does seem rather stiff and formal, and a trifle distant, but there's something endearing about him anyway. 25 years as a priest- that's half his life! Add at least 8 years for preparation and you realize that he was young when he decided to obey God's call. (I've covered this in a past entry.)

3. Fr. Dan Letourneau: I had the privilege of witnessing Fr. Dan's ordination, which moved me beyond little else I've ever experienced. I've gotten to know him better since my return to St. John's, and I am genuinely grateful. He's highly entertaining, especially when he hangs out with the choir. I enjoy having him around, and will miss him sorely when the Archdiocese send him to his own parish (which I know will inevitably happen, so I'd best prepare for it now. Seriously. Remember how upset I was when Fr. Rex left? Yeah. I'd better start stocking up on the Kleenex now.)

4. Fr. Steven Hamilton and Fr. Shane Tharp: I MISS Catholic Ragemonkey like you wouldn't believe. It was the best, most informative and entertaining blog I have ever read. I've had the pleasure of meeting the guys responsible for it in person, and I find them both to be personable, intelligent, and compassionate. Their parishes are blessed to have them.

5. Fr. Kirk Larkin: Fr. Larkin is just made of awesome.

6. Fr. Kevin Ratterman: The first priest I had dealings with (whose name I don't recall- he left the Church at some point) did not make much of an impression on me (obviously). His interim replacement at St. Thomas More was Fr. Ratterman, who is one of the sweetest individuals I have ever met. He was part of a retreat that I went on a few years ago- the retreat where I decided that I was supposed to convert.

Seriously, single guys, get on the ball- if nothing else, I may be giving you a shout-out on here someday.

5.20.2007

Yesterday was FAAAAAAABULOUS!!! (*Jazz hands!)

The mini retreat to Clinton was just what I needed. There weren't many of us going, so we all took one van. There were quite a few ladies waiting for us when we got there though, along with a fantastic lunch. The retreat itself was kind of a mixed bag- although advertised a a ladies' retreat, it pretty much focused on motherhood. Since I am not currently a parental unit I felt a little out of place. (Then again Fr. Rex is not a mom either, and being the only guy he must have felt really out of place. I bet he turned on some form of televised sports just to recover from all the estrogen flyin' around the room.)
Afterwards, we got a tour of the church (which I had seen before, but it's nice to see what they do with it at Easter) and the rectory. The rectory is charming, and of course Fr. Rex owns a Bodum French press. (It's a fancy device for making coffee, basically. My mom had one too.) Dude takes his coffee seriously.
Of course, no visit with Fr. Rex would be complete without my saying something that makes him a bit uncomfortable. While we were all standing around the office chatting, my skirt caught on a cactus plant that I was standing next to. Without any forethought, I said to Fr. Rex, "I think your cactus is getting fresh with me." (Which, btw, is not a polite thing to say.) He turned red and muttered something about how it had gotten Sr. Barbara when she visited.
Awkward moment aside, I really enjoyed my visit. I shouldn't be such a stranger. It was nice getting to kow Anneke (wife of Charles, who was confirmed with us last Easter), and their kids are adorable.

5.17.2007

I'm really loving helping out with the RCIA. I just wish there were more that I could do. I'm sure there is but Deacon John's not telling and neither is Charlie.

I cannot wait for this week to be over! It looks like my aunt Kathy is coming to town this weekend- wish she'd given more notice. I think I'm still sticking to my plans for Saturday though. As in, I'm going on an outing with some of the other ladies of the church. To Clinton. Yay. :)

Saturday night's the Blue Mass honoring police officers, so I'm gonna definitely show up for that.

Something else to look forward to is Fr. John's anniversary of his ordination . 25 years he's been a priest- that's half his life! Plus the time it took getting there with seminary and all- gosh, he was YOUNG when he made that decision! How amazing that he was so open to God's will at, what, sixteen?

5.14.2007

A Quick One Before I Return to Work

Ah, yes, let's see here...

Wednesday: Took car to dealership. They didn't do squat. Supposed to take it in after work today; will call and remind them.

Thursday: Worked, went home, watched The Office, crashed.

Friday: Found semi-permanent lodging. Jason came to my place and helped me pack. Went back to his place, drank a couple of beers while listening to Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young & Sgt. Pepper.

Saturday: Hot, sticky, unpleasant day for moving.

Sunday: Started out inauspiciously enough- had to get a tire repaired which meant I missed the 9 o'clock Mass, but I got there in time for the 11:30. Went to IHOP with Alysha afterwards. Did some shopping, went home, and veged.

Today- my job duties have gotten more complex. Thank God. Oh, and I remember why I never wear these shoes. They're extremely cute but also really impractical. I'm thinking about changing into my sneakers.

5.09.2007

Mega Update

I hope I can get this done in 12 minutes.

Tuesday, May 1: Sold the Prelude! Yay! One less thing to worry about.

Wednesday, May 2: Went to choir practice. Had a great time as always. Was surprised that Fr. Dan didn't know about my discernment. Well, he does now. :)

Thursday, May 3: The Prelude has officially changed hands. Ryan is a nice airman who actually knows about cars and is interested in making the Prelude impressive. Yay. And I got a fair return on the investment. Oh, and I'm tinkering with an idea for a novel.

Friday, May 4: I applied for readmission to UCO. Then I went out with my brother.

Sat: While at Jason's I found out that I am the apparent victim of fraud- someone wrote a check on my bank account and withdrew money without my knowledge or authorization. The paperwork involved in filing a fraud claim is hefty. Oh, and I'll need to go to Midwest City on Monday to get the title notarized. (Note to self: Dave does NOT know everything.) Not all bad, though- the dealership is lowering the price on the car to something decidedly less unfair.

Sun: Much better day. Went to 2 morning masses, ate breakfast with some of the choir between Masses. Fr. Dan is completely awesome and is my hero. Seriously- I haven't laughed that hard in weeks. Basically spent entire day with Alysha, which was good. I'm so grateful for her. After 2nd mass we went to Guthrie with another of her friends and some more church people and saw a musical. So much fun.

Mon: More fun with paperwork. As had to be in Midwest City for title business stopped by old high school to pick up a copy of my transcript. Del City High has changed so little in 13 years. Am starting to think I might indeed be manic depressive- should really get it checked out. Oh well. I went and played with the adoptable kitties at PetSmart. That was good.

Tuesday: My starter is going out. GREAT. Will take it into dealership Wed. Have been offered full-time position at MIN. Thought I'd be happier aboout it. Oh well- I start with a 90 day probation anyway so we both have time to decide about the permanace of this job. Went to RCIA after work, thoroughly enjoyed it, and have decided to become a sponsor.

Wed: So far a quiet day.