Tuesday, May 30, 2006

A Memorial Day thought, especially for the clergy

If you're an American priest, or,
If you're an American man considering the priesthood, or
If you're a American bishop, with priests under your pastoral care, or
If you're a priest in another country, who might visit the US,
I hope someday you have the chance to visit our nation's capital.

While you're there, be sure to make time for a visit to Arlington National Cemetery, and watch the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Take some time to learn about the soldiers who, after intense competition, are chosen for that duty.

They observe a rigorous standard of personal conduct for the duration of their tenure, including their off-duty time.
They carry out a ritual that is minutely detailed, allowing no variations whatsoever.
They perform this ritual again and again, in good and bad weather, no matter how they feel.
They surrender their individuality, rightly confident that the ritual is more eloquent than any words they could speak, any gestures they could make, on their own.
They do it all because they want to do it; their duty is considered an honor.
These soldiers are like priests, in a way. But how many priests have the same attitude toward the dignity of their ministry, and the inherent power of the Eucharistic ritual?

And much as we honor the Unknown Soldier-- especially today!-- he did not rise from the dead.

(Quoted verbatim and without further comment from Diogenes.)