by Fr Peter-Michael Scott
I am in ‘middle time’; I have finished at the hospice and now await the beginning of my new appointment as Parish Priest. This has provided me with the opportunity to write a few Post-it notes to myself.
The first is fairly obvious: to relish and celebrate each and every day (Psalm 90:12). This ageless wisdom is not something I have learned for myself; rather I have heard it from numerous people in the hospice. I will always treasure the memory of a terminal patient who reached out her hand and held mine, saying ‘even if your day is stressful, it’s raining, cold, and your house is empty, know that you are alive and make use of every precious minute and enjoy it’. Lord, may I appreciate every new day you give me.
The second piece of advice is to remember the pressures of people’s lives. In the hospice, staff sign up to do shift work, and, when money is short and payments need to be made, they have to do extra. As a result, attendance at Mass can become understandably erratic. As a Parish Priest, Lord, may I never add a burden of guilt onto anyone whose commitment to Mass is inconsistent.
The final Post-it note is to remind myself that I have been ordained to be a conduit of God’s love. The role of a priest necessitates much administration and this can prevent clergy from leaving the parish office. Admin is essential for safety and the smooth running of the church, but I do not want it to get in the way of celebrating Mass, visiting the sick, or for it to delay the grace of mercy and forgiveness in reconciliation. As Pope Francis said to priests in 2013, ‘be shepherds with the smell of sheep’. Lord, I hope that I will be a smelly Parish Priest who reeks as much as my colleagues.
Perhaps one last fluorescent sticker to add, is a quote from a recent letter to priests from the Holy Father: ‘Jesus, more than anyone, is aware of our efforts and our accomplishments, our failures and our mistakes. He is the first to tell us: “Come to me, all you who are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”’
Please pray for Fr Gerard O’Brien the new Chaplain at St Joseph’s Hospice and for the people of St Mary’s in East Finchley who will have me as their Parish Priest.