Monday, February 1, 2010


If you were a reader last week you know that I was on retreat. Trinity Retreat House is one of the very few places that caters almost exclusively to priests. If you would like to take a peek at it plug in the address here: 1 Pryer Manor Road, Larchmont, New York. If you travel down the road north east a bit (toward the unsuspecting person out for a constitutional) and then look to your left you can see the old carriage house that has the retreat house offices and the living quarters of Fr. Benedict Groeschel. Very humble, very humble.

It was thoroughly reinvigorating. The daily schedule went like this:

8:15 Breakfast
9:15 Morning Prayer and Conference
11:30 Mass with Conference
12:30 Lunch
Break – (This is when I would go on a hike – pray and light a candle at St. Augustine, get a cup of coffee and read and then pop by the library to update the blog.
5:00 Evening Prayer and Conference
6:00 Dinner
7:00 Confessions
8:00 Holy Hour and Conference.
9:00 Recreation

Mind you, Fr. Groeschel is up in years, was hit by a car and brought back from the dead, recently had a stroke, and put on most of this retreat and did a darn good job it. Amazing. The only part he did not do was part of Wednesday when the other priest at Trinity, Fr. Gene Fulton (also amazing) took over because Fr. Groeschel had to go with his community to elect a new superior. (That was fun hearing how that took place and seeing SO MANY young men in habits and beards who are joining this quickly growing community.) But after a day of meetings came back and continued our retreat. Wow.

At one of the evening conferences, Fr. Benedict came in to the chapel, made his way to his chair slowly, settled himself in and began telling the story of some time he spent with Mother Theresa. Apparently they were having some communication difficulties and Father was begging off of a project. She told him to sit down, and as he said, “When Mother asks you to sit, you sit.” She asked him, “Do you know why you are priest?”

“I don’t know Mother. Is it because he has a sense of humor?”

“No,” she replied, “you are a priest because of God’s humility.”

The six priests gathered gave a collective gasp – sat back against our chair backs as if physically pushed. Not because Mother Theresa would dare say such a thing to Fr. Benedict but because we knew it to be true – for all of us. For a moment – spiritually – we were all naked. Every priest knows (or SHOULD know) that he was chosen to be a priest not because he was the smartest, cleverest, holiest, most obedient, handsomest, most loved, or even the most talented. He is a priest by sheer grace – because of the humility of God. It is completely gift. You are a priest only because God can work with you – and perhaps most of the time in spite of you. And it is simply a deepening of grace if one comes to know this, believe it, and simply be grateful that he has the honor – because of God’s humility - to a priest of Jesus Christ.


Anonymous said...

Even if you got nothing else out of that retreat, that moment must have made the entire week worthwhile.

Cracked Pot said...

What is heartening for me is to learn is that priests continue to reflect upon their lives and their calling.

Odysseus said...

Great story. Thanks, Father.

gman59 said...

Excellent story and this is why I read your blog daily. Another item I watch Father Bendict evry week on EWTN. He is an amazing man and truly a treasure.

Thanks for your work!


Anonymous said...

hey "FaDer"--get with it--i guess you have been to busy over the past few years to be up to date on your EWTN watching---Father B.G. has been sharing this story for a long time on his program---therefor i degree when i am in my darkest hour and need you very, very, very much--i release you to stay in the rectory--lean back put your feet up--have alittle popcorn-and watch Father BG--sincerely n.