Being a member of the priesthood is much like that and I had that experience this past weekend. The parish parochial vicar and I went to the closing ceremonies of Forty Hours at a nearby parish. The priest gatherings are not what older priests tell us about “in the good old days” when priests made such clergy gathering a priority (and there were more of us) and there would be a good number of clerics who would come to dinner, celebrate benediction, and then had back to the rectory for socializing. (I remember serving such dinners in our school gym growing up and seeing all of the priests. It was good for me to see them having such fun being together.)
We did not have a gym full but a handful of good priests got together for dinner and benediction. Sebastian even came. He was invited to visit one of our older priests who used to have Labs. So we sat upstairs before dinner while the younger priests caroused downstairs. I would normally have fidgeted and then found an excuse to break away but not that night. I like to think of myself as a relatively young(er) person at least as far as priest years are concerned but there are still some great names out there from priests of days gone by that I knew that the young pups only know by reputation. We were reminiscing about some of those guys (and I was getting the inside scoop) when dinner was called.
At dinner it struck me that perhaps the lines have been slightly shifted. Though we share a lot in our clerical family I have begun stepping slightly in the next stage. This happened once before being named an administrator of a parish. No longer simply concerned with the beauty of a building I started looking at tuck pointing, the condition of the parking lot, and calculating the amount of work a parish may need. (I suppose that is not much different from becoming a homeowner.) So subtly and quietly you step into a next stage of priesthood and are planted in it before you even realize it.