Saturday, April 14, 2007

OH, THE PLACES YOU'D NEVER BELIEVE YOU WOULD GO! III

Sorry folks! No pictures today. There is NO WAY that I was going on image search for today’s story.

People invite priests out to bless all sorts of things. There are the usual things; houses, buildings sites, fields. There are the slightly unusual things, hops for beer, the grape harvest for wine, and boats. And then there are days like the one that follows . . .

A parishioner was opening a new business and asked that the building be blessed. Nothing so unusual there. I was given the address and we set up a date and time to meet.

I showed up at a very unassuming building and was greeted by the owner. He took me into his office and we chatted for a little spell. With great pride (as well he should) he explained the nature of his business. It was (the world’s?) largest indoor salvage yard. He provided donuts and industrial strength coffee before we got started. “You’re going to need it Father.” I thought he was joking.

So we start walking through room after incredibly large room saying prayers and splashing holy water about. One room had all car doors neatly stacked and arranged. The next had front quarter panels, the next axils, so forth and so on. I didn’t know cars had so many parts. Finally we reached the back of the building. I turned to the man and said, “Well, that looks like that’s it!”

“Yep,” he said, “Shall we start the second floor?” I should have realized there were some integral parts of cars missing even from my limited knowledge of such; bumpers, tail lights, wheel rims . . .

We got to what I thought was the front of the building (and good thing because I was beginning to run low on holy water) when the gentleman said, “Now you are gong to see the real reason we brought you down here Father. Behind this door is where we would like to have our new offices but we can’t do anything in here until you bless it.”

To bless: to make holy, to sanctify, to claim and set aside for the kingdom of God.

He opened the door to another long hallway. It was in stark contrast to the rest of the building. Where most of the building had been old and dirty, the walls here were relatively new and they were painted deep red and purple, and blue. Each room had a theme. One looked like a little girls room. One was filled with mirrors. One had winches and D bolts on the walls and so forth. There was a room in which it was obvious there had been all kinds of electronic equipment. This is where I started to catch on. If you have not the slightest idea what is going on at this point, count yourself lucky and perhaps stop reading.

Of all the places that the priesthood would take me I would have never, NEVER guessed a place like this. We prayed and blessed the rooms and claimed territory back for use in the kingdom.

Not too long ago, the street that the building is on was shown in a news segment about traffic. Seeing it on T.V. brought to mind the people who were effected by what happened there. It makes me sad to think what went on in those rooms, how many people gave themselves up to be treated as objects, dragging their greatest gifts through the mud. With the Internet, those images will never be lost. The models have perhaps a near immortal record of their activities. Will they never be able to escape their past if they should so desire? (Saint Augustine lived a rather lascivious lifestyle before his conversion. Would he have been taken seriously and would his cause for canonization been damaged if we could pull up images of him on our computers showing off his assets?)

Could any of the tormented confessions I’ve heard been a result of what went on in that building?

About a minute walk from my last assignment there was a so-called “Gentleman’s Lounge.” I sometimes pictured Jesus going down there and talking to some of His lambs and encouraging to embrace their dignity. I never had the nerve to do it. Quite frankly, I didn’t want the publicity and such ministry was fraught with all kinds of dangers and there are areas in which I admit to being coward.

Driving through town I will see an occasional statue of Mary or Saint Francis in someone’s yard and think how nice and offer them a blessing. But then again, they are perhaps not the ones who need it, it is rather the people in the topless bar, the guy who threw his cigarette butt out the window, or the people with “Pro-Choice” bumper stickers that really could use our prayers.

11 comments:

Adoro te Devote said...

Wow, Father. What a place in need of blessing...what people in need of hope.

MJ said...

Reminds me of one of my favorite scripture verses "Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer." Romans 12:12 Those people need all of our prayers.

Anonymous said...

But what a beautiful sign of hope that he called a priest to come bless it all.. what a dear, happy, hopeful thing you share today. There's always tons of sinfully wrecked human detritus to salvage.. I don't envy a priest's lot one bit, and for them I pray even harder, lest they break.

Love in Christ,
Carol

Fr. V said...

Thanks Carol - Your priests can ALWAYS use prayer.

THere's the story of the priests that went to visit the monks. The priests thought, "Wow, how hard it must be to live in sequestered away like that prayer 47/7. The monks said, "Wow, how difficult it must be living out in the world with all its temptations."

It's a wonderful life if you are called it. Quite frankly, I don't know how married people get on. Wow. And it is so much easier to broach spirituality as a priest - people expect it. God bless you all who do it out there - I don't know how you do it and you hav emy prayers.

Adoro te Devote said...

Father...don't forget about us single people! We're stuck in limbo between marriage and religious life of whatever variety, having either been chosen by neither or chosen neither.

At least you have the expectation to speak of spiritual things and you have the support of, well, most. (Unfortunately, you also suffer for wearing the Roman Collar).

Married people have each other and their families.

Singles...we need all of you, but so often, we have only God because there is no one else available. Not that this is a bad thing, but when there's no one tangible around to help, we feel a bit lost at times.

And please don't ask us why we aren't married and having children. It doesn't help.

:-)

MJ said...

Adore my son is having the same conflict as you. I pray for him on a daily basis and I will include you in my prayers

MJ said...

Adoro! Sorry

Fr. V said...

Adoro!

You are so right and I apologize (Please don't say it is Okay.) I should give my responses a little more thought. It is a problem in many ministries/parishes - and I hear it a lot - single people who feel left out - family night - youth night - seniors - vocation support - but what about the people who have chosen to be/are called to be/just plain are single?

Too often the "solution" is to use single people for EVERYTHING because they are seen as being free. Not fair.

And I usually do try to be more sensitive to the issue because so much of my family (more than average I think) live the lifestyle - just as legitimate - just as necessary - just as much of a blessing to the Body of Christ as any other.

(You're right about the don't ask why aren't you/don't you . . . but people will ask. Why did you become a priest and give up sex? Why get married and have so many kids? Why don't you have any? Why be a Franciscan and give up possesions. Rude - but sometimes an opportunity to take a negative innuendo and put a positive spin on it.)

I'm just rambling now - but thank you and I'll be more attentive in the future.

Adoro te Devote said...

MJ ~ Thank you, prayers are much appreciated by all of us singles!

Fr. V. ~ No worries, I knew you meant no offense. I once was asked by a priest why I wasn't married/having children, and I can't remember what I said, but what I really wanted to say was "oh, Father, who would have me?" (He was a foreign priest from a country more focused on family than the US. I was an anomoly in his experience.

I'm in a different place now, spiritually, and I've needed this time to get over my bad choices of the past. I actually don't even want to LOOK for anyone, no desire whatsoever, and people are peppering me with this and that website or this or that group. My life is full enough...I don't have time to run all over the metro area in hopes of "meeting someone."

I've decided that if God wants me to get married, He'll provide the person and the means and make it happen. If he wants me to go back into pursuing a religious vocation, He'll send me back down that route. For now, I'm single, I'm actually happy to be single, but I'll admit there are challenges; if something happens to us, we do not have someone immediately present to deal with our everyday stuff. For example, if I get schmucked by a semi tomorrow on my way to class (yes, class on a Sunday), there won't be anyone who will automatically know to go feed and let my dogs out and clean up any messes if they are left alone too long. There is no one to call my work to say that I won't be in because I'm dying in ICU somewhere. I'm not entirely sure there is anyone to call a priest for me but I pray that the rosary ring and scapular would cue someone to the fact that I'm Catholic and would like a priest to be called. Etc.

Married people tend to have more connections, and they take those connections for granted.

I should really turn this into a blog post and send it to various websites to publish...I know I am not alone here.

Fr. V., in our culture, I'm not at all surprised that you get the questions about "giving up sex", etc. I get those, too, but not as a single. Everyone assumes I'm as much as a whore as any given actress on TV. (Sorry, just don't feel like mincing words, and our culture is what it is.). Anyway, the US is completely obsessed with sex, and anyone not going out seeking frequent sex is seen as an abnormality. Amazing to me. Just amazing....because such acts are so completely against our true nature and so many people are in such denial even as they decry being objectified....I think we could go on and on about this.


I don't think people ask questions from rudeness, but from a true desire to be "helpful" even if they don't understand what that means. It's difficult to be in a position which is so contrary to secular culture, and to explain that in fact, "When Harry Met Sally" is not the Bible, and men and women CAN be friends without "expectations", and men and women can relate to each other as they are designed to do, etc, it's met with complete disregard or outright hostility.

That's a long sentence. Maybe I am a future theologian! LOL!

Fr. V...sorry to go so OT...isn't this a topic for a completely different post? Wanna co-author a book? :-)

Anonymous said...

After a failed "marriage" which was eventually validly annulled, I had placed msyelf into His Hands entirely. I didn't look for anyone anymore, as I had two young children, and... need I say more? I planned to live the single, celibate life, if that was His will. I said to the Lord, "If you want me to marry, however, I'm afraid You'll have to drop someone into my lap," as I no longer dated, not even at that height of looks and health, and for over 5 years, I saw one man only -- the mailman -- and even him only from a great distance.

Ah, well, I never foresaw the never-married Den Leader of my son's Webelo Scouts troop, the same whom I'd seen at Mass a number of times... but He saw him.

I'd have been ok without remarrying, tho' it was lonely, fearful, sad, hard a lot of the time. I'd have been quite loyal to Him any whichway, But He knew what would best bless not only me, but others.

Single adults among us are indeed too much left out in the cold even at the parish level. I hope more priests will ask for more for them.

Love,
Carol

sparky said...

I'm a single young woman too and as far as the "why aren't you married" questions go, I think usually people either think it is a complement (who wouldn't snatch you up!) or it's a bit of veiled jealously (I wish I was free again!). I don't get offended.

Yeah, it's lonely being single, but I still enjoy it. Life is such an adventure, so full of hope and promise, and downright weirdness. There's something bold and liberating living the notion, "Lord, I don't have a man to protect me, so you have to!"

Back in my (slightly) wilder days I remember coming home a little tipsy from a night in the Flats and looking at my picture of Divine Mercy and saying "You know, if you want me to do 'lonely', I can do 'lonely'. I'd rather do that than live a life that is offensive to You with one of these goofball guys." I think He took me up on the offer. So don't ever do that!