Out of the mouth of very babes, O God, and of sucklings hast thou perfected praise.
Thus began the mass for the Feast of the Holy Innocents. Of the three post-Christmas feasts, this one means the most to me, even though Stephen is my patron. I think of all the vulnerable children whose lives are ended at the hands of others. Human life is sacred and the life of a child, pre or post-birth, must be guarded with holy diligence. If we become comfortable making exceptions for this protection for the most vulnerable, then how long before we start making exceptions for everyone? I know I just ventured into the waters of abortion and I know there are some very difficult cases. But can we not agree that all of human life is sacred and acknowledge that when difficult cases arise, they must be treated individually as just that – difficult cases? I do not think that addressing women’s health and the sanctify of human life should ever be mutually exclusive. I bet those of differing viewpoints have far more in common than they realize. There is a great wealth of ethical and theological resources to help us navigate the gray. Let’s use them.
When I walked out of the sacristy, the sound of the sacristy bell was met with the morning cry of a toddler. The young daughter of a friend and brother priest was in the congregation as they were in town visiting family after Christmas. I came to know Andrew after he graduated college, prepared him for confirmation, gave him a very, very low paying job and married him to Amanda, who was a member of the first class of the Abraham Project. He is now a priest in Kentucky and this beautiful little girl was having no part of mass today. I could not think of a better day to have an energetic child compete with my voice during mass. As the introit reminded me, hers was a more perfected form of praise.
After mass, I went to breakfast with Fr Andrew, Amanda, and this bundle of holy innocence.
Friday is my usual day off, so I spent the rainy afternoon unsuccessfully trying to jump-start my wife’s car, playing basketball at the YMCA with my eldest son, and reading.
On Saturday, I was up early for a two-hour drive to Asheville, NC for a wedding. This was to be a short and simple ceremony, so there was no need for a rehearsal the night before. The drive was pleasant and foggy. My body prefers the beach, but my heart and soul are happiest in the mountains.
I was crossing diocesan boundaries for this wedding and had to get permission to officiate. It’s one of those steps that may seem like unnecessary red tape, but I appreciate the fact that we are not independent agents or hired guns. A bishop is responsible for his diocese and he doesn’t need a rogue priest coming around administering sacraments. On this feast of Thomas a Becket, I was reminded of king who once asked who would rid him of a troublesome priest; I don’t need a bishop (mine or any other) asking the same about me!
The wedding was lovely and intimate. I stayed for a quick picture and then hit the road for the 2-hour drive back to Winston-Salem. Even though it’s been a funky week in regards to routine, there was still a sermon to write and things to prepare for Sunday.