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Sunday, 13 September 2015

St Augustine Was a Lot Like Many Priests, Huh?

From today's Office of Readings, in a sermon wherein St A. delineates the two aspect of his vocation -
I must distinguish carefully between two aspects of the role the Lord has given me, a role that demands a rigorous accountability, a role based on the Lord’s greatness rather than on my own merit. The first aspect is that I am a Christian; the second, that I am a leader. I am a Christian for my own sake, whereas I am a leader for your sake; the fact that I am a Christian is to my own advantage, but I am a leader for your advantage.
 Many persons come to God as Christians but not as leaders. Perhaps they travel by an easier road and are less hindered since they bear a lighter burden. [emphasis added, need I say?] In addition to the fact that I am a Christian and must give God an account of my life, I as a leader must give him an account of my stewardship as well.
I have more than once challenged someone complaining about how a priest couldn't find the time to do this or that, as if he's so busy.
It is hard for us as laity to imagine how very much most parish priests have on their plates, (liturgical musicians have a little insight into it from closer observation, and similarly both visible and invisible duties.)
But I also note that there are very few priests, at least in comfortable urban and suburban areas of the US, who have a clue  how busy most of their parishioners are, what their lives entail, how much work goes into parenting, for instance, how different it is for those not essentially guaranteed housing, occupation and livelihood, and who don't "live above the shop," essentially. (I heard a pastor decrying the devotion of his flock after a snowstorm led to a sparse turn-out on Christmas day, oblivious to his advantages over the situation of someone who might live a couple miles down the hill, own a ten year-old beater and have five kids to wrestle into their boots and winter coats.)
Many priests seem to believe, in their heart of hearts, (they hopefully do not say as much aloud,) that the laity have it easy.
And "bear a lighter burden."

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