There was a time in the Diocese of Cleveland that you would not be considered for a pastorate until you were at least 55. So in "priest years" I am still a "kid" even though we are on the countdown to the half century mark. Someone told me the other day, "Enjoy turning 50 because you know what happens when you turn 51 don't you?"
"No," replied, "What happens?"
Jolly thought that.
About an hour ago we received word that a local, retired priest named Fr. Yahner passed away. He was still very active. As a matter of fact the way someone knew that he was in need of medical help was that he was expected to organize a crew of young persons to go do yard work and he didn't show up.
All of this makes one very thoughtful.
My first pastor as a priest was in his 80s and was still a workhorse. "Died with his boots on" as the saying goes and he was the oldest pastor in the diocese at one of the largest parishes. We used to discuss death. "A healthy spirituality can talk about death," is a worthy quote.
"As long as I have been to confession, God can take me whenever He wants," I once remarked to him.
"Wait until you are 80," he shot back, "and see if your attitude changes."
Another person told me the other day that 50 is the best age ever. "You are not 'old' yet and you are not a 'young un' either." Let me believe that this is true. (It reminds me of a time when I was walking down Mull Avenue with a few other priests all dressed in our clerics and I commented, "I wonder when was the last time Mull Avenue saw 5 young priests in full dress walking down the street?" Fr. Pf coughed and said, "Well, Father, 4 young priests and . . . "
So at this point you do a lot of thinking. As a younger priest I wondered, "Will I some day regret not having kids?" So far so good. Will I start worrying about death like my first pastor warned? So far so good on that front too.
One of the big things that motivated me toward the priesthood was the opportunity to get people to stop and think, evaluate, contemplate, and meditate. Are you still living any of your dreams? Did you accomplish what you set out to do? Do you still have any of your idealism? Did your faith grow? Being a priest helps me accomplish these things in my life.
Most things we do will pass. Our relationship with God is an eternal thing. If you don't get the basement cleaned out today, nobody will know in 100 years. If you work on your spirituality today, people may be looking at your image on a card and praying for your intercession for centuries. Even if not, you will be with Him eternally. Is there anything else worthy of such an investment of time?
As for Fr. Yahner, Sorry guy. You had your chance to retire and you worked through it. Now you are on the other side. We will pray for you that your soul be sped on to heaven and you get back to work and intercede for us poor souls here on earth.