Random Churchy stuff

First, let me state for anyone who hasn’t guessed, I am Roman Catholic — devout and practicing. I go to Church every Sunday and actually try to pay attention to what the priests are saying.

That said, you’ll never believe what Father Dennis talked about in his homily today…

Okay, so at St. Matthew’s Church, we have three priests (it’s a large parish). The priests are all fairly young. Father Mark, the pastor, is an absolute sweetie. You’ll never meet a kinder, gentler guy. He’s around 38 yrs old, and he’s just great with the kids at the parish school. It really is a joy to attend a Mass where he preaches. Plus, he’s got one of the most angelic tenor singing voices I’ve ever heard, which is a relief blessing for somebody in the priesthood. He’s an excellent choice for a pastor, largely because he’s got a good head on his shoulders, but also because he has just endless patience. He will sit and chat with a querelous older parishioner whose memory is going for hours on end about the same thing over and over again because he genuinely cares about everybody. He’s equally happy to have five kids under the age of six tugging at his vestments because they all drew a picture for him and want to tell him all about it. He’s just that kind of guy; a real gem.

The assistant pastor of the parish is Father David (whose first name I had to look up because I’ve only known him as Father Richardson). He’s a really new priest — recently celebrated the first anniversary of his ordination. He hasn’t quite got the social aspect of being a priest down yet, which is part of the reason I had to look up his first name. He’s a bit more aloof, and you can tell he’s still developing his preaching style. It’s a little more stilted than Fr. Mark’s. He also can’t carry a tune in a bucket, poor guy, but thankfully, he is well aware of this and tries to sing as little as possible. You can sort of tell he’s still a little wet behind the ears when it comes to being a priest, but he’s really making progress.

The third priest, a fellow who helps out with Sunday Masses and I think serves as Chaplain for some of the local hospitals, is Father Dennis. I think he’s the oldest of the three, but he’s certainly not out of his 40s yet. I have to confess, I try to avoid going to the Masses he says, which is horrible of me, but there it is. I think the best way to describe him is “scatterbrained.” He frequently loses his place in the longer prayers, and often has to go back to the beginning to get back on track. His sermons are often disjointed; he tends to go off on tangents, then realizes he’s deviated from The Plan, and leaps back into his prepared notes at the earliest possible moment. Or pauses and thinks for a few minutes about how he can get back to the point. I frequently want to cringe in sympathy for him.

Today, however, Father Dennis enormously raised his level of credibility with me. You know what the subject of his sermon was?

Gandalf.

No kidding! THE Gandalf from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy. Wizard. Pointy hat. Etc. In a sermon delivered from a Catholic Church pulpit! Today being the Feast of Christ the King, he wanted to drive home the virtues of servant leadership — how we should all try to be that kind of leader and how we should all encourage that kind of leader. And he picked Gandalf (and the Balrog incident) as his illustrative example. Go Father Dennis!

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