One of the tag lines of someone’s first year as a priest is: “wow, we never had this class in formation.” Our formation program is extremely strong, but like all things, it is impossible for it to fully prepare someone for the multitude of adventures one will encounter during priestly ministry. While many new priests fully embrace and enjoy their sacramental and pastoral ministry (presiding at Mass, hearing Confessions, visiting the sick, etc.) it can be those day to day, less than sacred tasks that can catch one off guard (demolishing a building, fixing a tractor, reviewing trash removal contracts, and paperwork, lots of paperwork).
To see life through the lens of Faith is to see how God is present and speaking to us in all moments of our life, not just the overtly spiritual. Those deliberate encounters with God through prayer or the sacraments aid us in seeing all the other moments of our lives in the light of God’s love. As Pope Francis said in a recent general audience “what we see at Mass makes us realize what we’re about to live.” There is no aspect or element of our life that is not touched by God’s grace and in nourishing our spiritual lives through prayer and the sacraments that we aid our ability to see God’s presence in all moments.
It is so tempting to let the ordinary and mundane moments frustrate us and grind at our spiritual lives. They can so easily appear as distractions or challenges to our spiritual lives. However when we view them in the light of God’s grace they become so much more. Each can become a moment of grace and encounter with Christ. I am certainly thankful for those overt and explicitly spiritual and pious elements of my priestly ministry. I very much treasure the chance to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, to hear Confessions, and offer spiritual direction. However even in the less than profound moments of ministry God is present and it is often those moments we need to focus on in our desire to see God in our world and to grow in His love.
Fr. Brian Ching, C.S.C., is associate pastor at St. Joseph Catholic Church in South Bend, Ind. He is originally from Flushing, N.Y., and is a graduate of Holy Cross High School. He entered seminary while a student at the University of Notre Dame. He professed Final Vows in 2012 and was ordained to the priesthood in 2013. Learn more about Holy Cross parish ministry here.