Last September, I was going with my mom and kids to the Celtic Classic in Bethlehem, PA. I had to stop into the church on my way there from NJ where I am and we were already about 2 hours later than we wanted to be. I knew I had to go to Confession, but I was just in a hurry. You know how we make excuses. So, I run into the church to leave something on the organ for the musician that was playing at 7:00 Mass and I see that there is confessions going on. It was hot. Mom and kids were in the car, so I hesitated, but I left to get on the road to the fair.
We drove out there and walked around a bit, but decided to stop for shade by the creek in the middle of the fairgrounds so the baby could get out and walk (he'd been in carseat and stroller all day). We sat very close to a priest wearing a cassock and praying his Office. And it was nagging on me to ask him to hear my confession. I kept saying to myself, "No, no. Don't bother him." And he was so young-looking that I thought maybe he was a transitional deacon and not a priest at all. After a while, refreshed, we decided to go and see more stuff. But I really felt compelled to ask him to hear my confession. So I told my mom and she said, "Go ahead." So the elder boy and I troop back over and I asked the priest if he was a priest and he said yes. And then I told him, "I really feel compelled to ask you to hear my confession. Would you mind?" He said Of course not and he hears my confession. He knelt next to me, I confessed and he absolved me in Latin!
Now this was amazing to me. I was born in 1975 and have only heard Latin when we sing the Sanctus and Agnus Dei at my parish during Lent. And I stole a look at his book and it was all in Latin. I was really intrigued. I had never experienced the Sacrament of Reconciliation that way before. It was amazing. It was so different. I didn't understand the words, but it didn't make a difference at all. It was better.
I got to talk to this nameless priest (So rude. I didn't even ask him his name) and he was there with some boys from St. Gregory's Academy in Scranton, PA where he taught. I had noticed these boys walking around in shirts and ties at this big street fair and thought they were pretty special. His order is the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter and the boys from the academy are called to serve at Papal Masses all over the US. I thought that was so cool. And the Priestly Fraternity has had what seems like a real vocations boom. Isn't that interesting? The "traditional" orders of priests and nuns, where they wear the habit or cassocks (not just suits) are seeing this upsurge in vocations, and not your more "liberated" orders? Hmmmm. What does that bode for some of our orders?
So I have been thinking about this priest and I would like to go to a Latin Mass, just to see what it is like. I'm going to ask one of my CCD volunteers because that's where she goes on Sunday. I also an thinking about starting to wear a veil to church on Sundays. I don't know why. It just seems more respectful than not covering my head.
Anyway, if you're reading this, I want you to tell the next priest you see in a collar that you are grateful to him for his vocation and tell him thank you for wearing his collar in public. And while you're at it, tell the next sister you see in habit thank you as well. These folks have consecreated themselvs to the Lord, but they need support and encouragement at every step of their way, too. And where would we be without them? I shudder to think.
I saw some lady pundit on TV talking about making women priests and she said something to the effect that we needed to ordin women because God is calling fewer people. He's not calling fewer men to the priesthood. Fewer men are answering His call!