***So I ended up editing this message and mailing it to my Pastor. Why? because our priests deserve to know what we're thinking of them. Not only when we're unhappy, but when we're happy, too. Happy coincidence, he got it on his birthday. Ha.
I sent it anonymously, though. I still can't help but be a little on the shy side. <Blush>***
So I'm totally in love with the above picture, and I'm glad I found it, because it's exactly the sentiments I had after participating in the Mass this past weekend. Everyone on the East Coast was in a tizzy over Hurricane Irene, but Father Piotr was completely calm, collected and even jovial. I seriously love our pastor. He's gentle, wonderful, and thoughtful. He's also very prudent, kind and generous.
Anyway, he gave a wonderful homily, injected with common sense, chiding, and gentle humor. During the consecration, he knelt reverently and I wistfully noted that for many other priests, this motion was an automatic gesture... something that was barely thought about, just done because, well... that's what "the Red" said to do.
Fr. Piotr, though... he always seems to take his time kneeling before the now consecrated Host. I truly believe he always acknowledges Christ upon the altar and through his actions encourages us to better understand this as well.
During the Eucharistic Procession, Fr. Piotr handled his line of communicants and quickly moved to the next line as his fizzled out. I again smiled, feeling elated that he was proud of his calling to minister to his people. He didn't just retreat to the sanctuary to begin cleaning the chalice and pattens. No, no. He moved to where he saw a need and filled the space, bringing Christ to his flock.
Finally, at the end of Mass, Father Piotr made a couple amusing announcements to help allay fears and dispell confusion surrounding Sunday's mass schedule. Since everything was up in the air due to the storm (tornado warnings, hurricane conditions, power outages, etc), he said the following:
"Some of you have asked me about the mass schedule. A lot, actually. Who am I? God?"
To this, everyone laughs, because during his homily, he brought up last week's Gospel, in which Jesus asked the apostles "Who do you think that I am?" St. Peter, of course, replied "You are the Son of the Living God."
Anyway, he continued:
"At this point, the schedule remains as normal. But please be prudent. If you see cars or trees or other things flying around, stay home. For the safety of yourselves and others. Check in on those who may be alone and scared. If it happens that no one is here when I come to say Mass, rest assured that I will say it - by myself - for all of you."
I think my heart melted into my shoes at that point. Father Piotr... good and saintly Father Piotr. I could imagine him there, offering the Mass for his parishoners and all those affected by the storm. And he would, too, piously, humbly, praying that God would accept this sacrifice on behalf of those unable to offer it with him.
My heart was so happy and alive with the deepest affection for him at that. I wanted to hug him after Mass, but since he was being pulled in thirty separate directions, I shyly nodded a "Hello" and simply made my way into the rain and headed home.
I sometimes feel so embarrassed for these feelings of affection. They are in no way unchaste. I just truly believe Fr. Piotr (and all priests, really) are hand-chosen by Christ. And the wonderful men who carry their vocations proudly make my heart swell with unspeakable love and gratitude. They, after all, enable me to participate in the Eucharist. They are the ones who offer me a bridge to Heaven... to the forgiveness of Penance. They, too, are the ones who offer me the consolation of Last Rites and a Catholic burial.
Say a prayer for these wonderful men. They truly are saintly beings called to walk a path separate from all the world. It is a difficult, lonely road, so offer prayers for their consolation and joy... also strength to follow the path with faithfulness and love.
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