Sunday, May 11, 2008

Living Like a Father

Fr. Fox returns to his periodic 'Day in the Life' posts, but adds a further reflection:

To all you young men thinking about the priesthood: you know what this is like? I think this is like...being a dad.When I was a boy, I saw my dad go off to work, and I sometimes went with him, and I saw him at his desk, in the evening, working away; I only had a vague sense of what was so demanding. And I saw him working in the garden, and around the house...and then taking time to take the family out for dinner, for vacations, and of course we were brats, as original sin has its effect...It involves a lot of work, on my father's part, and for what? For his family! This is what a father does. It's not glamorous, it's often thankless, but he did it, and he wasn't sorry he did it, it's what fathers do. And of course, there are any number of compensations and joys, but also sorrows.Now, I don't mean to discourse on what being a father in the conventional sense means; 0thers are better suited to that. My point is, to be a priest is to be a father--that's why you're called that! And when you are a priest, and you have these days with work, and you get your share of grief, and you wonder if people appreciate what you do...then congratulations, you are a father!I can't really complain, because while I do get some difficulties and some flak, it's not really all that much, and so many have far worse things happen to them. And I get lots of moments that are gratifying: celebrating confirmation and first communion; watching the children grow up and having a share in that; seeing how hard so many people work on so many things for the parish; seeing how great the faith of so many is; realizing how many people are quietly praying for you, constantly; getting lovely notes and presents, often sacrificial; seeing various plans come together, and knowing, this will last, this will make a difference. Not earthshaking, just building something in people's lives. It's how 99% of us will make our mark, if we actually do make a difference.And there are very delicate moments, yet still so privileged. People come to you when in trouble. A divorce; a child in trouble. An infant that doesn't survive, and you are priviliged to baptize that infant but then you are asked to have the funeral. You get to see people cry with tears of pain, but also release, as they pray on such occasions, but also when they come to you for the anointing, or for confession, or they walk up for the Eucharist at Mass.You bet I say, think about being a priest! It's not the only way to make a difference, but it's a great way; and if you think, "but I want to be a husband, a father" I'm telling you, if you are a true priest of Jesus Christ, you will be. That's what a priest is.

Fr. Fox, thanks for being a great dad and giving your life for your sons and daughters. Good priests like you make my job a lot easier!


Adoro te Devote said...

Wow, this is a great post from him.

And you know, a few years ago when I was lamenting that I'm without a Father, I was also at the time getting really involved in my parish, and we have a few priests. And each one of them, in some way, was extremely helpful to me. As I began to teach RCIA, two of them in particular were extremely supportive and even came in after my first talk to see how it had gone. (They hadn't been able to be present, which is just as well because I would have been even more nervous!). Two of them wrote letters of recommendation on my behalf to two grad schools, and then served as references for my current job. And there have been other, smaller things. And it was around that point that I realized I'm not so "fatherless" as I thought.

Hmmmm...maybe this is worth a post of its own, although maybe not on Mother's Day. (Fitting for Pentecost, though...)

Father Martin Fox said...

Thanks Father Schnippel -- and you keep up your good work!

Anonymous said...

I pray that a huge harvest of priests with this understanding of being "Father" like you and Fr. Fox are ripe for picking!

How refreshing it is as one of the "Kids" to not hear the laundry list of complaints and how-hard-it-is to be a priest in this musing!

I understand the CONSTANT demand and work and sacrifice and no thanks, because I have 4 children who live with me (or did) full time.

Thanks, Father Kyle for linking this! And I hope you and your fine brother priests know how much we all love all of you!