The Morning After The Night Before

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When I was young, the headline above referred to waking up with a monstrous hangover.

Today, it refers to being back in the world after a weekend of immersion in a spiritual retreat called the Eucharistic Convention.

I feel sort of like a sponge whose every pore had been filled with water, and then squeezed dryer than dry.

The hangover cure for me today is the same as way back when – hair of the dog that bit you.

But now, instead of that “hair” being booze, it was spending the morning with a wise, old priest.

I have a thing for wise, old priests. Priests who have suffered. Priests who are holy.

The have seen it all and heard it all 1,001 times, as they tended to their flocks, day in and day out.

They truly know about The Dark Night of the Soul.

They have read St. John of the Cross’s mystical book.

They’ve heard about the darkness from countless troubled souls.

And it’s pretty much guaranteed that these wise, old, holy priests have been in that very dark night themselves.

So when you seek their wise counsel, they do not offer up instant spiritual cure-alls.

They don’t tell you to “offer it up” or “man up” or “build a bridge and get over it.”

They listen.

They offer true compassion – which means suffering with you.

And then they give you diamonds.

My diamonds this morning were real treasures — stories about Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, about the miraculous battle against Islam at Lepanto, and about fighting the fight for 24 hours at a time, using the spiritual tools we’ve been given.

This wise, old priest also gave me a series of photocopied booklets by “Brother Andrew”, who had helped launch and grow an Order in India.

He then returned to Australia where, of course, rumors began to circulate.

Nothing new there.

You may recall that Mother Teresa had countless lies told about her.

It comes with the territory.

And it didn’t stop Brother Andrew from sharing his wisdom.

In just a few short pages, his booklet Catholics: Connected or Unconnected? reminded me that:

— while the world and the Church are a mess, they have pretty much always been a mess; that

— renewal has always comes from saints, with prayers and the evangelical poverty of Jesus; that

— dark ages call for sterner stuff; it’s the battlers who endure.

And if all that listening and wisdom wasn’t enough — and it was — there was more to come.

At that night’s Mass, this wise, old priest gave a homily for the ages.

Who knew that the hair of the dog could be so holy?

 




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