He came back to the disciples and found them sleeping, and he said to Peter, ‘So you had not the strength to stay awake with me for one hour?’ ~ Matthew 26:40
As of late, this particular verse in the bible have a new meaning to me. Apparently, every five years, priests are being shuffled and transferred and our parish was also affected by the transfer exercise. As parishioners we are urged not to judge and compare the abilities of our newly assigned priest with the previous one. My casual conversations with my other friends of the same faith convinced me that most are under the impression of “blind acceptance and obedience”. The reason being that we should not complain about those working for God and accept them as the shepherd leading us, his flock. Furthermore, we are having a shortage of priests and each one is precious. But I have to point out that being precious and rare is one thing but the ability his flock can relate to him is another.
I must first emphasize that this is truly an issue I have and no fault of others. A few months have passed now and I found myself in “spiritual limbo” – a physical body dragging around a depleted soul. It is not that I am unwilling to stay awake for the one hour mass but, I find myself totally disconnected. Skipping a regular Sunday service begin to be easier because the time can be better spent elsewhere.
Recognizing the fact that the one hour Sunday service is something I need to nourish myself spiritually, I started wondering what could be the problem.
I can only conclude and point out the importance of a charismatic leader and preacher. I for one, enjoy a thought provoking sermon and when I am able to relate life’s experiences to the scripture readings of the day, it can be inspiring. A good sermon does just that – relating the meaning behind the scripture and life as a believer today. It makes the faith current and relevant.
I am not saying that priests without good preaching ability should stop doing what they do but instead, due to the different needs every unique individual requires to nourish oneself spiritually, it really is NOT “one size fits all”. Therefore, it is irrelevant to force someone to stay in a parish that does not help in his/her spiritual growth. In one particular conversation I had regarding why I prefer to attend masses presided by certain priests, I was accused of being a “follower” of the preferred priests instead of a “follower” of God. I find this quite disturbing when the fact is that I can relate to what these priests preach better than others – that draws me closer to God.
As such, I believe that parishioners should not be made to feel obligated in anyway to be bound to any parish but instead free to find whichever parish their souls feel at home. After all, we would like to encourage a sense of belonging, no? What more for one who seeks belonging spiritually?
Attending Sunday service should not make one feel like it is a chore but instead it should make one feel compel to attend because of how nourishing and enriching it is to the person. For most, that one hour is very important to get recharged before facing the coming week’s of challenges. If nourishing and enriching an entire parish is the good intention of a priest, making that one hour count can really go a long way.
Thus, the question now becomes, “What Am I Staying Awake For?“