Stories of Gratitude

Recently I was talking with a priest friend over coffee about some of the challenges he faces in his parish.  Full of zeal and tenderness for the people he has been charged to shepherd, it pained him to see and hear apathy and discontentment among his flock as a result of some of the “hard sayings” he is trying to preach and incorporate with charity.  Then in the middle of a conversation, a man came up and asked if he were a priest (he was wearing his habit).  Answering, “yes”, the man gushed with joy – his daughter was getting married that afternoon and he wondered if he could have a blessing.  Bowing his head, my friend stood, extended his hands and blessed the man.  The man happily went on his way, and the peace on my friend’s face was evident.  This was his calling.  To be Christ to others, whether being asked to suffer for his flock or extend a blessing to a stranger on the street corner.

I also just spent a week with my community, Corpus Christi Monastery in Menlo Park, California.  I visited the retirement home for a local community of active school sisters.  In each place, the joy of religious life was radiant.  Brides of Christ, waiting, watching, praying and working until the Bridegroom returns.  How many lives have been bathed in prayer by these cloistered nuns?  How many children have been taught and influenced by these teachers?

A fellow aspirant from a previous class just entered the Little Sisters of the Poor, a community that serves the elderly poor, people who have no other place to go for help as they near the end of their lives and need assistance.  What would our hospitals and nursing facilities be like without these and other nursing sisters?

Imagine a world without priests or religious.  No sacraments.  Would our schools and hospitals exist as they do now?  How have you been inspired, taught, encouraged or influenced by a priest or religious nun or sister?

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