Monday, 18 October 2010


Old enough to be retired from being a parish priest; not so old as to be retired from all parish pastoral a mood for a little nostalgia...that's me...Peter Clarke O.P.

For me, a recently ordained priest, there was a brief season of simple idealism. when I fancied I could centre my life around celebrating the Eucharist, administering the other Sacraments, preaching the Word, and becoming involved in a myriad of pastoral experiences. In this I expected to find fulfilment in serving God and His people.

All too soon I became aware of the effort needed to be willing and able for 'whatever,' when both body and spirit were weary beyond all describing...worn out listening to the troubles and griefs of God's beloved them the support and encouragement they sought from me...and as well as sharing in their joys and successes. Through this I came to recognize that the spirituality of a priest lies in his sharing the ministry of Jesus Himself -meeting and greeting, teaching, healing and compassion. Jesus had so much love that He wanted to share.

St. Paul gave this advice to the Christians in Galatia, "Let us not grow weary in well-doing, for in due season we shall reap, if we do not lose heart," (Gal. 6. 9). I find it hard to accept the admonition not to get weary...even in well-doing. Surely there were times when Jesus was worn out with fatigue. The important thing, the special grace, is not to get 'fed up,' not to 'lose heart.' Jesus, like us, needed to get away, be still and relax in order to become refreshed for further activity.

Far be it from me to give the impression that I have entirely put my act together. Here's one of the priestly tasks that really irked me...having to produce the Annual Financial Statement for my parish. For me there are far more interesting and important things to occupy me than balancing books. Thank God I've reached an age when I no longer have this kind of responsibility!

I used to feel so guilty and inadequate when I was reminded that my accounts were long overdue. I'd tell myself that the apostles were never burdened with book-keeping. They had troubles in plenty, but were spared this particular trial.

All praise to those priests who revel in everything to do with administration. Glibly they would advise me to organise my life and make time for what had to be done. Meet Rev. Fr. Disorganized O.P.

Totting up figures with the aid of my pocket calculator has always been for me a dreary task. Half way down a column my mind would wander and I would have to start all over again...and again, and again. Then I'd get mad with myself and fret that I was never ordained for this kind of fatigue.

Golden moments have been when I've just completed the accounts. Suddenly I've felt virtuous. In some small way I've contributed to the justice of the Kingdom in my parish. Like it or not, I've always known I was accountable for any cash that passed through my hands -mostly out, sometimes in.

Times have changed. Nowadays competent and willing lay people fulfil tasks that priests like me had to perform even though they lacked the aptitude to learn to do so. Believe me, I would never have chosen to reach God though doing my parish accounts. By necessity this has had to be my way to meet God...His way.

It's a sobering thought that He may create ways of my reaching Him that are more uncongenial than balancing books. but then, I reflect to myself, the Father chose that His Beloved Son should reach Him through the Cross. Who am I to get peevish over my petty gripes over being obliged to track down what has happened to petty cash?

Peter O.P.

Next week Isidore will meet God through "Skyping Peter"


  1. No, not the Dreaded Petty Cash! Petty cash is a tool of Satan, it never balances and makes suspicion fall on the innocent.

  2. This latest reflection has helped me to recognise that the spirituality of marriage also lies in "sharing the ministry of Jesus himself-meeting and greeting,teaching,healing and compassion."
    Parents can also become bone weary trying to endlessly support and encourage those God has given them to love.
    But as in Fr Peter's case they can also give us much joy.Incidently,
    trying to work out the best deals for heating and telephone bills is a constant irritation,leading to a few expletives, but if this is part of family life then I'm willing to pay the price.
    I only hope I have as much determination in following God's way for me as Fr Peter has!