March 14, 2007

True Confessions - On the Deception of the Appearances

I remembered him sitting next to the altar, concelebrating occasionally with one of the other priests at our local Dominican parish. He seemed a goofy looking guy, maybe a bit slow. He'd come visit from time to time and he didn't hear confessions, despite the long lines, and rarely gave a sermon. I thought he might be considered by the other priests as 'dead weight'. (I always have sympathy for the priests at the parish. They are the James Brown's of the clerical world: the hardest working priests around. There are two or three daily masses and lengthy Confession lines every day of the week, so much so that the pastor recently asked that we limit ourselves to monthly confession assuming no grave sin.)

When he spoke at Mass it was sort of light-hearted and simple, not so grave or serious. I liked that, thinking the overly serious conservatives of the parish needed to lighten up. Of course, I also gave myself credit for being so open-minded as to like his style.

I thought it was charitable the other full-time Dominicans at the parish had him there, like allowing a slightly daft uncle to stay at your house without having him do any chores. Only it turned out this guy wasn't slightly daft. He was brilliant. I went on a retreat and he was the retreat master and realized he had what I lacked, which is a surprisingly effective way to lose any irrational condescension. Not simply book knowledge, he had the ability to see with the eyes of faith. (He teaches in D.C.)

How many times - how many times! - will it take me to not judge by appearances?

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