We have a new Archbishop Designate in Milwaukee-Bishop Jerome Listecki. The Milwaukee news has been filled with pictures and videos of his welcoming Mass and meetings with the press at St. Francis de Sales Seminary. Our Seminary is a beautiful building set on the glorious wooded grounds next to the shores of Lake Michigan. I wonder if our new Archbishop will ever have much time to enjoy the natural setting in which he will be living and working, or will he be so busy serving the people of the Archdiocese that he will barely have time to notice the natural gifts from God that are right in his backyard.
Reading the stories about him got me thinking about how difficult his life and the life of all bishops must be. For that matter, I'm sure I could include Pope Benedict and most priests in that statement as well. I imagine that their lives must be filled with one round of meetings after another.
I think back to last spring when Archbishop Dolan was installed as Archbishop of New York. Watching the Mass on TV, I was struck by how this big, robust and energetic man, full of life and joy, looked like a little boy, fearful of what tremendous work lay ahead of him in his new responsibilities. I think that Bishop Listecki may be feeling the same way right now.
I offer my prayers to all of our hard-working and faith-filled leaders in the church who often have to give up so much of themselves and the things they enjoy, so that we may all come to know God more deeply.
I wonder, do they ever have much time to just enjoy life? I'm sure they are so grateful to be living their lives in a way that pleases the Lord and nothing must make a man happier than the knowledge that God is using him as an instrument to draw others closer to His loving heart. But I can't help but let my imagination get carried away with how similar the life of a bishop must be to that of the princes in fairy tale stories...
He lives behind the walls of the castle.
Although he is the leader,
his life is ruled by the demands of others.
All day long
he sits in meeting after meeting,
words rolling into each other until they lose their meaning.
He dreams of freedom.
If only…he thinks…
If only I could feel the cold, autumn air in my face.
If only I could see my breath escape from my mouth in little clouds of white.
If only I could watch the sky turn pink and purple from the shadows of the setting sun.
If only I could hear the crunch of autumn leaves under my feet.
If only I could listen to the sound of the waves crashing into the shore.
If only I could find the deer family hidden behind the trees.
If only I could live outside in the beauty of nature like Francis.
If only I could dance on the hillsides like David.
I am so close to that dream, yet I’m a million miles away,
trapped by the life that leads me instead of the life I lead.
Yet if I only had an hour in those surroundings, in that glorious fresh air,
I know that I could endure the stagnant indoor environment for days on end.
By faithfully succumbing to my rightful place,
whether it brings me freedom or entrapment,
I know that I am pleasing God,
And my heartfelt work is pure.
I trust that He will give me small gifts of time in the beauty of nature today,
that will be a foretaste of my future in heaven's glory.
(Inspired by the lyrics to "If You Want Your Dream to Be" from Brother Sun, Sister Moon)
Father of all the faithful, thank you for so many courageous leaders who are not afraid to give their entire lives to your service. Bless our wonderful Pope Benedict XVI, all of our Cardinals and Bishops (especially Archbishop Designate Listecki), our beloved priests, seminarians, deacons, those discerning a call to the priesthood and religious life and all of our wonderful religious brothers and sisters. Thank you for blessing us with so many who have bravely answered Your call. Give them moments of respite so that they many continue to serve with energy, zeal and love. Amen.