When I started this up I wanted to do the Church equivalent of a Gear review site. But then I realized that would involve my own money, which there is very little of. I still intend to talk about Church Supplies, but It’ll have to wait until I’m a not-quite-so-broke churchman.
What I can do frequently and for free is talk about what I do. And it’s become very obvious that this needs to happen. The Priesthood needs more priests talking about what we do, and I don’t mean simply complaining that we’re overworked (We are), or that we’re underpaid (That too), or endlessly feeding the cycle of “Why the Church is/is not dying” click-bait. (Please, stop it.)
We need more of us talking about being Priests. Loving it. Living it.
So here goes:
I’ve become convinced that a big part of why I got into this is because I love being in churches by myself. Which is helpful, because 90% of the time I’m at my parish I’m by myself. I serve a parish that, like most other parishes in the country, is horribly underutilized during the week. We need to fix that, but until we get serious about treating Churches like public spaces, they’ll continue to stay mostly empty during the week, and Priests will continue to hang out in empty churches.
For the moment, I’m ok with that. Not only because I’m an unrepentant introvert, but because there’s never a time where I’m able to see a church as truly empty. They’re always a part of that great choir. Always home to the tabernacle where the Blessed Sacrament is resting, candle swinging overhead. Letting you know that the light is still on. Christ is still with us.
It’s a privilege to get to stand in the middle of that. To be the one who keeps the candle lit and the Sacrament stocked. There’s a pocket of holy silence, of eternal vigil, and I get to tend to it.
Some Priests loathe having to stay on top of building maintenance and upkeep. I’m not one of them. If we take sacramentality seriously, if we take bread and wine seriously, then we can take brick and fiberglass, copper and wood just as seriously. The Benedictines are pretty clear that it was ora et labora, not ora vel. Part of being catholic is to deny any Manichean dualism that says otherwise. Material matters. Buildings matter. Bodies matter.
And I can say that by standing by myself in a building that, at that moment, is performing no other function than to be a roof over an altar and a tabernacle.
Sometimes I joke about having a key-ring like a custodian. Heavy and with a jingle you can hear from a mile away. But its an essential part of what we do. There are the I DID NOT GO TO SEMINARY FOR THIS moments, (They mostly involve poop.) but they’re few and far between. And this is, in fact, what I went to seminary for.