A Priest Life

"Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing." -St. Paul

What Our Lord Saw from the Cross

Fr. Jeff, you like to look around while you are on the altar.

The little boy is right. Our sanctuary is surrounded by pews on three sides. Part of my routine is to look at the entire church gathered during the Introductory Rites. As I see different people, I formulate prayer intentions for each of them.

I came across James Tissot’s What Our Lord Saw from the Cross before I presided over the Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion. Gazing at the image, I was transported to Your perspective. I was looking through Your eyes at Your people for whom You suffered.

Standing at the altar on Good Friday, the painting came to mind again. This time, I understood that You were teaching me the meaning of priesthood. I watched as people came to venerate the Cross. I knew their pains, their struggles, and their weaknesses. I knew the faith of their children and the faith of their parents. They give me insights into their hopes and their prayer intentions. I knew of their repentance and their desire for conversion. Most of all, I knew of their love for You.

There in the Sanctuary and looking out, I knew that I was standing in Your place and seeing

What Our Lord Saw from the Cross.

James Tissot (French, 1836–1902). What Our Lord Saw from the Cross, 1886–94. Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray-green wove paper, 9 3/4 x 9 1/6 in. (24.8 x 23 cm). Brooklyn Museum.

Serve, wash, and feed

I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do. –John 13:15

As the pastor knelt before the men to wash their feet, the expressions on each man changed. Removing their shoes and socks was humbling. We rarely show our feet to another. He knelt before them all and washed them all the same: young and old. Some smiled, some cried.

For me, it was an insight into the life of the priest. We serve all people the same: some in moments of rejoicing, others in moments of sadness; some are clean, others need more care. In each and every case, we try to serve as we are commanded.

Gathered around the altar, You feed them. Teach me to follow Your commands, that I may

serve, wash, and feed.

Priestologist

Fr. Jeff! I know what I want to be when I grow up!

The first graders in our religious education program were really excited I stopped by their classroom. They were learning about Jesus’ Resurrection at Easter.

I pointed to him and asked him what it was he wants to be:

Excitedly, he explained that he wanted to be someone who did lots of different things each day. When he grows up, he wants to be a

priestologist.

We don’t understand

We had just finished practicing for the Easter Vigil liturgy. I was standing outside in front of the church greeting a family as we prepared to celebrate a funeral for a young man who died at only 37.

His brother expressed faith profoundly:

I know we don’t understand, but I know it’s because we aren’t supposed to. If God tried to show us the truth of his love, it would be far greater than anything we can comprehend.

The beauty of the mystery we prepare to celebrate is far greater than we know. Today, I’m thankful that

We don’t understand.

Transition from the Cross to the Resurrection

The joy of watching students express their faith is unlike any other. I imagine it’s like the joy of a parent watching their children accomplish something beautiful.

After celebrating Mass at St. Louis Catholic High School, the transitions students led the entire student body in the Way of the Cross. Narrators lead the prayer and reflection while the students created each scene as a silhouette.

As we draw near to Holy Week, teach us to model Your passion in our daily lives, that we may

Transition from the Cross to the Resurrection.

Way of the Cross

New Life Counseling

The chairs circling the room barely provided us enough room. Circling the altar, we prayed that our ministry would help those who walked through our door. Before blessing the building, we heard those words of the Gospel:

Whoever keeps my word will never see death. –John 8:51

Helping those in crisis pregnancy situations is a beautiful ministry. Providing hope and the gift of love here on earth is a great grace. But most of all, we try to offer them an insight into Your love. Help us to be faithful to this ministry, that we may provide

New Life Counseling

Erasing the white board

I walked out of the sacristy vested with an alb and purple stole. When I looked at the back of the church, I expected there to be a few people who came for our Lenten penance night. Over 10 pews worth was more than few!

Grace was given penitent after penitent:

I absolve you of your sins in the name of the + Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

As my arm made the sign of the cross over and over again, I was brought back to my school days. The dry erase boards would be covered in black. To make it white again, it only took a little effort of the arm.

With Your words and grace, the forgiveness of sins is just like

Erasing the white board.

Eucharist

I spent part of my evening enjoying our students’ Fine Arts Night. They showcased their works while the performing arts provided great entertainment.

The students’ talents are incredible. There was one piece, though, that nearly took my breath away. It was a charcoal image of Mary standing at the foot of the Cross nearly embracing Your feet. Her mouth was open as she looked up, and she was about to taste the blood dripping from Your feet.

The image made me ponder what the Crucifixion was like for Your Mother. It made me think about how we remember the sacrifice. It was the title, however, that pulled it all together for me. I’m not sure I’ll celebrate it the same way again:

Eucharist.

EDIT: Click here to see Natasha’s image.

How was your day?

She walked into the sacristy about fifteen minutes before Mass started. Her husband was standing in the corner and she walked over to him and greeted him with a quick hug and a kiss.

Hello dear, how was your day?

They hadn’t seen each other since the morning and talked briefly about their day. After they finished setting things up, they went into the main church together to pray.

I processed up the aisle and venerated the altar with a kiss. At the penitential rite, and emphasized by the Lenten season, I realized her question was the same You asked me:

How was your day?

More pride than Gaston

I snuck in the back of our cafeteria in time to catch the end of the first song in their performance. The St. Louis Drama Club was performing a number of songs from different Disney movies.

To one he gave five talents; to another, two; to a third, one—to each according to his ability. –Matthew 25:15

A little girl in my row smiled as she was transported to a whole new world. The teachers were elated that they brought honor to us all. The costumes contained all the colors of the wind.

Watching them use their talents, I was absorbed in the show as they brought me

More pride than Gaston.