It may be a little shallow but as a seminarian I remember a few of us guys talking about the kind of parish to which we would like to be assigned. Often it took the form of thinking over the (in the eye of each beholder) beautiful architecture in the diocese and how magnificent it must be to celebrate Mass there, the Divine Beauty buoyed with earthly beauty.
Then you hit the actual world of the priest and one of the lessons that a young priest learns quickly is that you will sacrifice a lot of earthly beauty for a happy home. I would rather celebrate Mass in a sanctuary that looks like the bridge of the Starship Enterprise than live with unhappy priests. A rectory can be a dysfunctional place but Jesus is Jesus no matter where He is celebrated.
It is interesting to see how quickly a parish that has more than one priest picks up on how happy things are in the rectory even when the priests think they are covering well. If the rectory hums, the parish hums. If there is division in the house there a certain spirit lacking in the parish – maybe even division.
At current I think I have the best of both worlds, a beautiful church and a happy rectory. But there were times that this was not the case which makes the current situation all the more appreciated. Is it just plain dumb luck – or perhaps Divine intervention? But in any case what is important must always rise to the top. It is never clearer what that is than when there is difficulty. What is the buoy that we grab on to? What sees us through? I’ll pass on the beautiful Church to have a happy rectory. I’ll pass on marriage to be a priest. I’ll take a pass on the possibility of wealth for the chance to celebrate the Eucharist. There are my buoys. What are yours?