......has been rattling around in my head, reinforced by one of the meditations I have been reading in my Lenten program. The discussion was actually about priests wearing their clericals on their days off/during recreation/etc. But that isn't what I've been thinking about.
Apparently, a few years ago, Crisis magazine had an article that dealt with the "gay priest" issue, giving "warning signs" that there might be a problem with a priest. Mr. Bettinelli expanded those "warning signs" to include heterosexual priests as well, since they seemed equally valid in that situation.
And I thought he was right, and it was a good discussion.
But it was one of those "warning signs" that has stuck in my head--because it seems to me that it really applies to all of us, not just to priests. Here's the point from the magazine:
Restore simplicity to priestly life. Physical comfort is the oxygen that feeds the fires of homosexual indulgence. Cut it off. When you enter a rectory, take a look at the liquor cabinet, the videos, the wardrobe, the slick magazines, and ask yourself, “Do I get the impression that the man who lives here is in the habit of saying no to himself?” If the answer is negative, the chances are that his life of chastity is in disorder as well. It goes without saying that reforming bishops should lead by example in this department and not simply exhort.
I think it is just as easy to say "Physical comfort is the oxygen that feeds the fires of indulgence" period. And I think the question asked is appropriate to all of us. If someone walked into MY house would they have the impression that I ever said NO to myself?????
I know I'm not a nun. (Oh really, what was my first clue?) And I know I'm not called to live with one change of clothes and 3 books as my total list of possessions. But isn't there somewhere along the way that enough is enough and that even though we could buy more, have more, do more, it is important that we don't?
I don't think this is about the external sign--I know as well as the next that we are called to wash our faces and dress well when we fast--not making a public display of it. That's not what I'm talking about.
When I walk into my house, is there any evidence at least (at the LEAST) to ME that I have denied myself?
I think that this is one of the most important questions in a country rich beyond most of the world's imaginings. We are in the "don't deny yourself" mindset big time. And it dovetails into the things that the Pope has said about giving: If we only give what we never miss, giving only of our excess, then we probably aren't giving enough. If we can have the giant SUV, every pair of shoes we ever loved, dinners out as many nights as we would like, and still give to the Church or to the poor, are we really giving ENOUGH? Our tendency is to look at dollars given: "Well, that's more than most in my parish" and be satisfied. But did that giving, ever, even ONCE, cause us to have to skip a meal out?
This is a hard thing. The pleasures I am talking about are licit pleasures--it's not wrong to have pretty dresses or nice dishes. But isn't there a place that we seriously consider what we're doing and think, "I could do that, but I'm not going to."