Trying to settle into a new pattern I’m not altogether enthusiastic about is a challenge; especially for those of us who are priests, and particularly when one stumbles upon - or almost over - the large box propped up against the front door containing palms of varying dramatic size and purpose for two Sundays hence. It wasn’t the most welcome reminder of the weirdness of this time, or of the context-to-be of my first Holy Week in a new parochial setting. Oh well. Into the cool of the garage the box goes for now, its contents waiting to adorn - unintentionally and, I’m sure, flamboyantly - the inadequately sized domestic oratory on the second Sunday of the Passion.
The ‘work from home’ prescription doesn’t quite gel with the job description of a clergyman, especially beyond the confines of a monastic house... Nonetheless, like my cloistered brethren, I am grateful for the anchor that the Divine Office and Mass afford in gathering up into God not only the prayers and aspirations of my absent fold, but of my own desires and longings also. I feel kept on the straight and narrow: purposeful and useful, if only in the fulfilling of the very minimum of my priestly life.
How to find that anchor beyond the altar and the prie dieu, especially if, for a time, one no longer has access to it? Being creative with how to keep folk together - in touch, in communion, in sacris - is a test for priests and lay folk alike in these odd days of Minding the Gap. Social media helps to a degree, so too live streaming Masses and the like, but there may be a risk in the novelty of such things. I don’t know. Perhaps it will usher in a re-awakening of man’s lost love. We can certainly hope. All the same, we might, usefully, use this time - and its attendant hunger and thirst - for more intentional prayer, deeper self-examination and reflection of the things of the Spirit, inspired and out of the ordinary acts of charity, study, self-denial, sacrifice... in short, the things of Lent. Because seemingly in spite of all else, that hasn’t been cancelled. Our lives may yet be framed by its disciplines, themes, and challenges so that out of the chaos and confusion of those things to which we might it find difficult to adjust, accept, or believe, God may bring order, purpose, and meaning.
‘In order to try you, God puts before you things which are difficult to believe. St Thomas’ faith was tried; so is yours. He said “My Lord and My God”. You say so too. Bring your proud intellect into subjection. Believe what you cannot see, what you cannot understand, what you cannot explain, what you cannot prove, when God says it”. - St John Henry Newman.
Fr Lee Kenyon