Sunday, September 02, 2007

Mission Impossible?

Sunday, September 2, 2007 - Feast of Blessed Apollinaris of Posat

[Disclaimer- I am not referring to the movies Mr. Cruise is in, but the story itself. I never was one of his fans, but even less so now.]

In Mission Impossible, the missions, though deemed impossible, are all accomplished. [I am no expert on the story, but let’s pretend I am right]. Is that not the way it is with God?

Today I saw my priest in his cassock. He is a diocesan priest, and not from a traditional order. It is rare to see any priest in a cassock, even less so a diocesan priest. He does not wear his cassock all the time, though I wish he did. However, I have never seen him in anything but his blacks, with his collar [another sad rarity these days.]

My mother [Hi Mom!] is not Catholic. Even she, as a non-Catholic, sees the importance of priests & the religious dressing appropriately. [From here on out, I will use the word “priest”, but it will include priests, and all of those in the religious life such as monks & nuns.] When a priest walks into a place looking like a priest, you see the behavior and respect, of the other people there, go up a notch or more. Not only that, but he is “advertising” his vocation. One never knows when someone is in need of a priest.

I remember a story a former priest told me. He was traveling when he came upon an accident on the interstate. The emergency workers recognized him as a priest [because he was dressed like one] and asked him to come to one of the accident victims. I don’t know how the workers knew the victim was Catholic, but knew he/she needed a priest. Had this priest been wearing street clothes, the victim would have been without the help needed from a priest.

What has this got to do with Mission Impossible? I know this is rambling, but please bear with me.

I think of all the non-Catholics, and fallen away Catholics, that see a priest dressed in his blacks, going about his daily life. What a witness that is! It is much more effective than door-to-door evangelizing, in my opinion. Are we all not called to show our faith by living it? What a privilege it is for a priest to not only live the faith, but also have such an obvious outward sign of it, in the way he is dressed. It has been my observation that the more traditionally the priest is dressed, the greater the effect on others. Who knows when this effect later results in a conversion to the Faith?

I have heard the lame argument that some [far too many] priests dress in street clothes because they do not want attention, and/or want to be treated like everyone else. Oh, poppycock! That is just an excuse to have time off & get out of living their vocation! I am a mother; that is my vocation. I do not get to stop being a mom. I am a mom 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I do not get a day off….never! Do I want some “me time”? Sure! And on rare occasions I get it. Are there times when being a mom seems so demanding? Yes. But the second one of my children needs me, I am there. How can a priest always be available when he does not look like a priest should?

Some say it seems an impossible mission to save many souls, to obtain many conversions, but as I said before, nothing is impossible with God! And He gave us the Church, and priests to help us do this. What better way for them to guide us, than by looking like a representative of Christ!


Lily said...

This is so true, Beth.

A couple of years ago, a nun told me a story of being in an airport, dressed in full habit. She was people watching as she waited for her flight. She watched a man run across the airport. She realized he was running towards her, and she was a bit frightened at the speed with which he approached. He told her that he was about to board his plane when he spotted her. He was rushing to go home, there was an emergency with his family, a car accident. He was going to go straight to the hospital and he wanted to ask her to pray. She said she always wears her habit and she is always approached. She would never consider going anywhere without the habit because she knows God will always use her as He needs. So, you are right.

The religious and the priests know the effect that the habit or cassock has on people. Sometimes they choose to be incognito, it bugs me. I understand needing time to yourself; but like you said they, and we as parents, are always on call.

MaryT said...

I have been a mother for 27+ years, and there is never a day off from the vocation. When the child is in your womb, it's 24-7. When they are children, it's 24-7 because even when they are at school or at a friend's house, you still have to be "on the clock" about picking them up, what food they will eat when they come home (and children with dietary restrictions require this even more so!). When they are adults, you still are on the clock, but from afar. You can only hope that the way you have "bent the branch" is the way they conitnue to grow. And when they are dead, you tend their graves, remember their personal anniversaries (death day, burial day etc) and pray for their soul. It's only after you become a parent that you realize how true it is that "a part of your heart will exist outside your body."