Recently I was standing in a queue at the checkout of a large Tesco store near where I live.
I noticed in front of me a parish priest of Down and Connor was further up the queue – a man I had been friends with years ago.
Not only had we been friends and each others confessors, we were also members of the same Jesus Caritas movement of priests (meeting under the inspiration of Brother Charles de Foucauld) – priests who meet for a day every month to pray, contemplate, share thoughts and a meal.
Now in Tesco, this priest was behaving like a cornered animal. He was looking everywhere except in my direction. He took off and put back on his specs a hundred times. He dropped things out of his bag and put them back in. He was sweating and panicking.
And when he had paid for his groceries he ran for the doors.
Why this strange behaviour?
Why not just say “Hello Pat” or “Buckley don’t come hear me”. But no. He sweated, panicked and ran.
It reminded of an expression that Fr Michael Keane of the Knock Marriage Bureau used to use: “If you see a pig with two heads say nothing”.
I remember having a similar experience at a conference organised by the ACP – The Association of Priests.
There were hundreds of priests there from all over Ireland. I was with an Oratory priest and his wife.
Everyone ignored me, went the opposite way when they saw me coming and treated me as if even looking at me would cause something terrible to hapoen to them.
The only one who spoke to me that day was the Jesuit Alan McGuckian who is now the bishop of Raphoe.
A FISH / PRIEST FACTORY
When I waa a curate in Kilkeel one of my parishioners owned a fish processing factory and invited ne to visit.
The fish arrived on the assembly line and were first beheaded. Then they were gutted and finally had their spines removed.
This is what happens in seminaries and priesthood.
First of all they remove your head / brain.
Then they remove your guts.
Finally, they remove your spine.
And then you’re ready – a properly, FILLETED PRIEST with no brain, no guts and no spine.
The following is a footnote from a book entitled, Doctor Johnson and the Law and Other Essays on Johnson
In a book entitled, “Doctor Johnson and the Law and Other Essays on Johnson” by Tom Bingham, (who was a judge of the House of Lords and widely considered to be the best jurist of his age) in the introduction by Robin de Wilde there is a wonderful footnote:
“I have always enjoyed the observation by Sydney Smith, the nineteenth-century Divine, who, when he was asked whether he believed in the Apostolic Succession, said that he did, on the grounds that: ‘it was the only explanation for the then Bishop of Exeter being related to Judas Iscariot’.”