My fellow writer Vir Christi made a striking observation to me about parents and priests and their children. He pointed out how parents are available to their children, 24/7. They’re always caring for their children and tending to them. Even when they’re not with their children, they’re thinking about them.
Vir Christi wondered what the world would be like if all priests were as generous with their spiritual children. What if our priests were like St. John Vianney, who listened to confessions for 16 hours a day? What if they wore their Roman collar—even a cassock—everywhere, all the time, so that anyone could know they were a priest and approach them for help?
There are zealous priests like this alive today. One priest I know who serves as a college chaplain recently gave a homily. Fr. V. said that people ask him how he can maintain a spirit of zeal, pressed as he is by so many people coming to him, many of whom might not be friendly towards Catholicism. He said he always carries an image around in his mind. He’s the driver of a full bus who always has “one more seat.” In other words, instead of worrying about everybody in his care, he focuses on being present to the single soul standing in front of him.
What about us? Are we open and welcoming to each person who crosses our path? Are we available to other souls all the time? Or do we selfishly feel entitled to periods of “me” time?
That’s not to say we don’t need to rest sometimes. Priests regularly go on retreat, and parents hire babysitters. But in general are we present for others? Particularly in the summertime, more people are out and about. Now is a wonderful time not only for pursuing leisure and nourishing ourselves spiritually, but also for connecting with other souls and bringing them to Christ like Philip brought Nathaniel (John 1:45-46).
Take some time to ponder what you can do. Maybe it’s stepping out to talk with a neighbor you often see but don’t usually converse with. Perhaps it’s inviting that new person you’ve spotted at church out for coffee. How about taking time to play with your children or to pick up the phone and talk with that friend or family member whose conversation doesn’t tend to interest you?
Block out some time to be present to those around you and see what happens. You’ll wonder at what God can do through and for you!
Amber writes from the bunker of her living room. There she hunkers down with her laptop and a blanket while keeping an eye and ear tuned in to the activity of family life. Music set on loop keeps her energy flowing as she muses on the deeper happenings of ordinary life and what food to restock the fridge with.