Today’s Reflection from Father Dave

There I sat on top of a stone wall in Northern Spain, eating lunch and watching a farmer drive a tractor with a trailer that spread manure. Wonderful topic to begin the last day of March. As the farmer passed by my location I raised my flask (of water) to salute his work, a gesture he seemed to get great enjoyment out of, maybe wondering if this pilgrim had any idea what he was doing. It got me thinking about my priesthood. Fertilizer and priesthood, how can this reflection go wrong?

I am a Diocesan priest versus a Religious Order priest. Religious Order priests like Dominicans, Franciscans, and Jesuits, follow the charisms of their founders. Dominicans are the Order of Preachers; Franciscans are known for their simple way of life, of poverty, and working with those in need, and Jesuits for teaching. If I were to describe Diocesan priests, I would call us farmers.

Often we are assigned to a certain plot of land, the parish. We live and work on this land, and for us life continues 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. One comes to love the land or parish as it literally becomes your life. You celebrate the seasons as does a farmer knowing that at certain times it will be hard work and long hours, but there is an ebb and flow to it. Your main job is to sow the seed of faith indiscriminately, letting it fall on rocky ground, pathways, amidst the thorns, and eventually some on good soil.

If we have done our job, we have grown the faith among our people and reaped a bountiful harvest. The harvest sustains our parish and hopefully we have created an abundant harvest to share with others. We send out members to be teachers, preachers, missionaries, and yes we keep some who will be the next generation of farmer priests.

Hopefully, we learn what type of seed of faith grows better under certain conditions, how we have to cultivate that area of the farm to produce a harvest. We must keep it nourished, providing the water it needs to grow, and yes at times we must spread manure to enrich the soil. We do lose some seed, but that must never stop us from sowing. So I am a farmer priest, and in parts of my life I do better than others. Spreading manure, it’s a gift.

With thanks to Joseph Campbell, I end today’s reflection: If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life you ought to be living is the one you are living.

With Faith, Hope, and Love,

Father Dave