A Few Words From Our Pastor
Each of us has a different amount of sleep which seems optimal for us. I have read that those who live the longest lives (on average) sleep seven hours a night. Throughout most of my years in seminary and priesthood, I had always found that five hours seemed sufficient. However, these last seven years, now with two parishes and much work to do, I normally only sleep about four hours or so each night. Of course, I am also drinking more espresso coffee than I used to as well! My last task of the night is taking Rev (Monsignor) outside one last time. And then, of course, as all who share their homes with dogs know, my first task of the new morning is to take Rev outside.
So it was that this morning, like every other morning, I took him out at 5:00am. It was, of course, pitch black outside. The sky was absolutely filled with the silent glory of countless shining stars. The Big Dipper was prominently displayed, surrounded by so many other heavenly luminaries whose names I will never know. I paused to briefly ponder the sheer grandeur of the universe, and I mentioned to my faithful Black Labrador Retriever; “God has created and given us such beauty, and has done so apparently simply so that we might take notice, find delight, and give Him thanks.” That is precisely what I always do. (Rev had most probably already done so before I did, as he has heard this little sermon many times before) My Mom often sent me letters, aerograms, and care packages in the twelve years I was far from home in seminary. I remember one large box filled with her chocolate chip cookies. It was addressed to: “Joe Wolf, c/o ‘Save the Seminarian’.” The package cost her $105 to mail to me; but the contents were priceless. The memory lingers still, nearly forty years later. She had also enclosed a little cartoon from the Buffalo News with this quote, “Happiness is seeing a beautiful sunset, and knowing Whom to thank.” Years later, while visiting a Trappist monastery, I bought a book whose theme was that the heart of the spiritual life is gratitude. I try, with and despite my human limitations, to do the best I can to be of service to our two parishes. I have been willing these seven years to get far less than the socalled optimal seven hours of sleep that apparently leads to a longer life. I am grateful to God and to the Church for the call to serve as a priest, some days more than others, but isn’t that true for everyone? I try to keep a small staff in each parish so as to keep expenses within budget. And I also enjoy other aspects of ministry to people and maintenance of properties that most priests would instead hire others to do. But I have felt that if we had the larger staffs that other parishes have, we would have to focus more on finances, just as they do. So, I admit I was disheartened when a small number of parishioners in both parishes decided to give $.01 (one cent) in the collection last weekend. They did this based on an article that was in the Buffalo News, an article based on some conservative group from Virginia. The article urged this as a way to force the bishop to resign. Obviously, what such a practice will do is quite different, as it would force a number of parishes throughout the diocese to close. I can do more and more work, and sleep less and less. But no matter how much I do, National Fuel and National Grid will continue to bill us for heat and electricity. And our employees do have to eat and to pay their bills also. If the heart of the spiritual life is gratitude, then we will support our parishes. To give a penny makes a cent; but it just makes no sense.
Sincerely in Christ, Father Joe