Wednesday, February 21, 2024 – Day 8

February 21, 2024

The authors of Rebuilt Faith: A Handbook for Skeptical Catholics begin with the acronym STEPS to give us a path to a deeper relationship with God and the Church: Service, Tithe and give, Engage in Christian community, Practice prayer and sacraments, Share your faith. 

They highlight Serve throughout this week’s reflections. When I look around the world, it rattles me to see the most influential people self-serving to attain power, influence and self-security. In many ways, it is the worst I’ve seen in almost seventy years of life. When I was a young man discerning the call to priesthood, I confronted my motivations.  Am I accepting the call to serve or be served. I witnessed “clergy privilege” and “clericalism” throughout my priesthood. 

Clericalism is raising the clergy above the laity and diminishing the laity. It really is the opposite of service. It is a structure of power that isolates clergy and sets them above and apart, granting them excessive authority, trust, rights, and responsibilities while diminishing the role of lay people and religious.

During his time as Pope, Pope Francis has repeatedly challenged the clergy and laity to avoid clericalism. “Clericalism is a thorn. It is a scourge. It is a form of worldliness that defiles and damages the face of the Lord’s bride,” he said. “It enslaves the holy, faithful people of God.”

Reflecting on SERVE in light of the call I received, the authors pose these questions:

Whom do you admire because they use their influence or position in service to others? 

As you look at your day-to-day life, who are the people you have an opportunity to serve? How can you serve them? 

Rank on a scale of one to five how well you serve and add value to others. Why do you give yourself this number?

Pope Francis has been a breath of fresh air for the Church. At the age of 87, he sees the call to serve, and be open to evolving his views and perspectives. In other words, to better serve, he is willing to go out of the comfort zone. He challenges the church and the world to SERVE. 

My days often develop with surprises. Whether I’m presiding at Mass, celebrating Confession, or hearing a child tell a story, I’m grateful for those moments of service. There are times when I’m tired or distracted, but these moments remind me of my call … to SERVE. 

Oh, ranking is so hard. I think most of us either over rate or under rate ourselves. I guess I rate myself a 4. In grades, that would be a B.  I want to be better, but I get sidetracked and distracted too easily. I’ll be more aware of where I am with serving as Lent progresses. 

Tomorrow is another eye opener … Do small things with great love. —St. Teresa of Calcutta