How good and pleasant it is
when God’s people live together in unity!
We live in a time of division. The priesthood is not exempt: young vs. old; tradition vs. innovation; social justice vs. prayer and fasting.
This past week, I listened to a presentation by a priest who urged his fellow priests to consider exemplary qualities in our colleagues as opposed to focusing solely on personal perspectives and subjective preferences.
Some impressive examples followed. He noted that priests ordained less than twenty years answered the call to priesthood despite the devastating exposure of the sex abuse crisis. They remained determined to follow that call despite the fact that many of their peers were dismissive of religion, the number of fellow seminarians was small and they, themselves, may have come from non-religious homes.
Throughout their priesthood, churches have been closing and the number of baptisms and weddings have been declining. Yet, they press on, serving Christ and his people with steadfast integrity.
The presenter then described qualities in priests ordained more than twenty years, men who stayed the course in times of uncertainty and confusion, when members of their own families began to drift away from the practice of the faith and many of their peers left the priesthood to get married.
These priests remained strong despite the fact that they personally knew, and were perhaps inspired by, priests whose names ended up on grand jury reports. Despite the shame and disgrace, they continue to lean on Christ and shepherd His flock to this day.
Prior to listening to this speech, I had stumbled across some small and easily overly reminders of perseverance.
Unknown to many folks, the high plains of Texas were once a sea. This means that, amid the stones and pebbles in my drought-stricken pasture, are oyster shells that are more than sixty-five-million years old.
Yes. 65,000,000 years. Amazing how long some things last. Yet, according to St. Paul, nothing outlasts the gift of love which endures all things.
So, when it comes to disagreement and division, it helps to recall the wisdom in this quote often attributed to St. Augustine: In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.