I just got back from a penance service in Brookfield, Mo. (nice church with awesome stations of the Cross). I took advantage of it and decided to go to Confession myself.
The confessor gave me as a penance something to reflect on that he once saw in a parishioner’s kitchen, “Lord, help me to be patient with my many blessings.” Believe me, the penance fit my confession.
When I talk about my current assignment, I tell others ‘It’s not the people or the challenges that wear me down…it is the sheer volume.” Four parishes and a school are a lot. There are a lot of great things happening. I would imagine parents with multiple children might feel the same way.
In the homily today, I asked the parishioners to find where their focus and trust is.
I asked them to imagine themselves before St. John the Baptist and ask what he might say were they to ask the question repeatedly asked of him in today’s Gospel, “What should I do?”
In other words, what do I need to set aside as a matter of repentance?
For me, I think it is laying aside my desire for things to go orderly. By orderly, I mean that things go in the sequence I want, and that people act at the speed that I wish.
Instead of laying such things in God’s hands and saying, ‘As You will O Lord and in the way You would have it done. I can be “Damn the torpedoes…full speed ahead!” That, my friends, can lead to more than a few messes.
Back to the penance.
In my rush to move forward and be a Fr. Fix-it, I can lose sight of the blessings I have and start growing impatient. I have so much to be thankful for.
Right now, my youth group in Shelbina is having a holy hour for Our Lady of Guadalupe. What a blessing!
I have 4 wonderful parishes and a school staffed by a great staffs and faculties. I have wonderful parishioners. Heck my two pups (playing in my office right now) are a handful at times, but are blessings to me as well.
I have book about to be published. I am better health now after a prolonged bout with Covid. That is just the tip of the iceberg of the blessings I have!
My focus needs to be in these blessings and not tapping my fingers on my desk because things are not moving at the pace I want.
Maybe all of us could do for a good, “Lord help me to be patient with my many blessings.”
In a season within the Church where we prepare for the two comings of Christ, in a historical time where we live in a society that looks for reasons to be thankless, entitled, and triggered, and a part of the year when all our holiday plans can lead us to the edge of insanity…we just need to stop. Reflect on the blessings we have and learn patience that God’s will will unfold as it is supposed to…and at the pace He wills.
Fr. Bill Peckman is a priest in the Diocese of Jefferson City, Missouri. He is the pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in Macon, St. Mary Parish in Shelbina, St. Patrick Parish in Clarence, Sacred Heart Parish in Bevier.
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