This morning at eight, I started the retreat with the clergy of the Diocese of Tucson at the Redemptorist Center in Picture Rocks, AZ. This annual renewal is a great opportunity to enter into a much- needed reflective mode after over three months of intense pastoral administration. I will try as best I can to detach from the modern means of communication, excluding maybe, my cellphone and you know what I mean. What for? Heaven forbid, for any eventuality. Certainly, not for MLB playoffs.
I have always looked forward to this intimate encounter with God in an environment conducive for meditation, that is, to spend a significant amount of time pondering on my life and ministry. The load of work in a parish like St. James with over 1,000 registered families can be overwhelming for a neophyte. While I undeniably love parish life in all its intricacies, a solitary place and not a busy intersection will lead me into the depths. Life is more than what meets the eye, of course. The sense of purpose and direction is a must-sought, which is, to put it in a nutshell, what keeps me going as a lone ranger.
For the most part, what I will do is enter into a profound level of silence, avoid any sort of distraction whatever that means, listen to the inner voice of God and learn to appreciate the minutest details. I was made to believe back then that stepping out of the normal schedule was a waste of time and that it was much better to stay in the office in order to be more productive. Well, if that’s the case, I’ll probably join the ranks of burned out clergy. It has been suggested that the number one requirement in a committed life wanting to live virtuously is the discipline of prayer, which actually can be done in a variety of ways but so far, this is what I’ve learned, spare an hour with God each day, one day a month and a week in a year. Amen.