Dear Parishioners and Friends,
"Let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching." Hebrews 10:24-25
Many of you know that I have long belonged to a group called the
Society of Catholic Priests
, an Anglican fellowship of clergy and religious. Each year, we assemble as a body in a different city in the US or Canada. Between annual meetings, our local chapters meet several times each year, and on Wednesday night, I attended my first meeting of the New York chapter, hosted by Fr. Gerth at the church of
St. Mary the Virgin
in Times Square. We began with worship—evening prayer followed by low mass for the feast of Saints Philip and James. After that we headed upstairs to the rectory for dinner and conversation.
These sorts of colleague groups are essential for clergy, because even though we are very busy and find ourselves surrounded by people, our work can be extremely lonely and isolating. So it is good to have time to pray, socialize and share stories of challenges and joys with other people who understand completely. In that way, we feel encouraged and “provoked to good works” as St. Paul wrote.
Feelings of isolation and loneliness are by no means unique to the clergy. Ironically, in today’s hyper-connected world, people can feel lonelier than ever. This loneliness can be profound, and lead to tragic and deadly consequences. We see it all too often in stories of young people who were radicalized online: connected, yet alone. That is why it is so important to pull ourselves away from our screens and echo-chambers, and engage with one another in good faith and charity. It is in coming together that we strengthen the bonds of our common humanity across all lines. In humanizing the other we become more human. And in loving we become more like the one from whom all light and love proceed, our Lord Jesus Christ.