See everything

by Fr. Jeff

“We see everything,” he said somberly.

He had just finished telling us the story of the saddest funeral he ever celebrated. We were gathered in the bishop’s living room before our monthly meal with him. Each time we visit, he takes the opportunity to share with us at least one story from his priestly life.

On this occasion, he related the story. The man had only one distant cousin and no friends. His childhood piano teacher was there with her sister; both came out of pity. There wasn’t even a casket, just a simple bag. It was bitterly cold and sleeting. Just six people: the funeral home director, the gravedigger, his distant cousin, the two ladies, and the priest. After the rite of commendation, they placed the bag in the grave. With a thud, the first shovel load of dirt hit the bag.

Obviously, the event left an impression on him, and he related the story to us.

We see everything. As priests, you never know what you will be called upon to do.

The lost, the forgotten, the unimportant.

Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me. -Matthew 25:40

Reflecting on his story, I can’t help but think of tomorrow’s celebration of Ash Wednesday:

Remember, you are dust and to dust you will return.

The juxtaposition is no accident. You have been guiding me to pray about my Lenten practices. Tonight, I see that the bishop’s words are part of that guidance. You want me to spend this Lent working on a simple but profound task:

see everything.