Wednesday, 29 August 2007

#5 The young man in the parish...

after a struggle at school; confronting all the secular morality bombarded upon him from every corner and being accused of all manner of things - being a homophobic misogynist and an enemy of women by opposing abortion, and a conspirator in the genocide of AIDS in africa just for being a catholic [some of these denunciations coming from teachers!]

- amidst all this the young man might decide that he really does believe in catholicism....his only way to survive is to be with like-minded people before he goes crazy

....so he tries to get involved in the parish, like a fool he goes to the priest,

now invariably priests react in one of two ways - over-sincerely or with a wary hostility - luckily this time the lad got the curate, had he encountered the parish priest and expressed his overt religious fervour he might have been 'politely' sent away with a flea in his ear and told to grow up and get a girlfriend and come back in five years when he'd 'grown a set'

...nevertheless the curate is finding ways for the young man to get involved - so much so that by the end of it the lad discovers he has virtually volunteered for everything...

the next few months are tough

...there are run-ins with the professional laity at every corner who inform him that whatever he does - be it reading at mass, or holding a chalice, or expressing an opinion of the real bodily resurrection or singing the Inwood gloria - he's doing it wrongly !!

he's asked would he really mind if their daughter jocasta who's just back from drama school did it for the next few times just to show him how to do it properly ?

the young man finds more companionship amongst the elderly and more neglected members of these groups - more often than not he finds himself sitting next to someone who likes to talk about 'the old ways in the days of the old monsignor/canon' "the canon would never have let them put flowers there!" "the canon always knelt on both knees when he opened the tabernacle" "the canon always had first fridays, and made sure there was a candlemas procession" "the canon would never allow that..." and so the list would go on - an elderly devout woman might slip him a 'chaplet of divine mercy' leaflet, or a brown scapular... or tell him how to get a plenary indulgence for something.... the leader of the meditation group overhears and ridicules those 'quaint old ways' and then proceeds to give a lecture on carlo carretto and john cassian in the desert....and how her sister spoke in tongues at the latest renewal conference...

the curate is quite nice really; he has his guitar but he sings and plays well, and he really loves God, but he has weird quirky things - he says things like Moses wasn't exactly a real person but it didn't matter for people of faith, he has a 'day off' every week and even if he stays in the presbytery he won't answer the phone or help anyone who comes to the rectory - it's his day off; he does seem a bit overfriendly with a couple of his priest friends - one is a bit slimey and holds the young man's hand for a bit too long when they meet, and the curate does go out to the pub every saturday without a collar wearing a salmon pink jumper and spends a lot of time having 'meals' with people;

the priest's sermons are usually funny or sad stories ; but he doesn't really talk about Jesus or God very much and when someone mentions the pope or bishop he does smile patronisingly and say "God bless him"

- a lot of the parishioners think he's dreamy or lovely, some others think he's a drippy stick of wet celery who should spend a few months down a coalmine to give him a dose of reality and a spine.
They prefer the grumpy parish priest ; the young man doesn't - the young man doesn't understand anything about the parish priest at all - he just seems so miserable and lonely and non-involved - even during mass his sermons are all about how we shouldn't feel guilty for our failings - never anything else !
the young man begins to suspect the parish priest is broken in some way - and nothing will ever get through to him....

so the years progress and the young man really feels that despite belonging to a bunch of less than perfect individuals in a parish, the time is right for him to test his vocation ;

his family are none too pleased - the priesthood seems a wasted life , especially with all the potential academic qualifications the young man has... the only people who seem enthusiastic are the people the young man doesn't exactly want to be enthusiastic...

even though the curate is ecstatic, the parish priest is grumpily hostile, but it's the parish priest's approval the young man wants...

the professional laity are already composing songs for the young mans ordination mass and making preparations for six years hence, but the elderly people he thought he was close too seem sad and look at him funnily as if the young man does't understand what he's got himself into - one even mentions solemnly in almost whispers about struggles, loneliness and sacrifice... and the young man doesn't really understand -

one of the matronly trendy catechists announces how one of those under her wing is going to try out for the presbyteral ministry , test his vocation as they had all tested their ministerial vocations before God chose them to be a part of her catechetical group - and who knows when we get a new pope she might be joining him in seminary ???So the young man heads off to the first diocesan vocations weekend....

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