Ecclesiastes 1:9

Brothers and Sisters,

One of my close friends from seminary is now a pastor in a large parish in the twin cities.  He told me about a recent experience he had at the checkout at a grocery store:

I was getting out my wallet to pay for my groceries.  When I took out my credit card, I noticed that the young woman who had just finished ringing-through my groceries and telling me the total was staring at my Roman collar.  She suddenly asked “are you a chef?”  For a moment I was confused and embarrassed because much of what I had put in my cart was junk food for a party.  Then I realized she was asking about the collar.  ‘No,’ I said, ‘I am a priest.’  To-which she replied “oh, I was way off then.”

Now, at first, I found this story from my buddy to be more than comical.  I laughed.  Isn’t the Roman collar the most identifiable uniform in the world?  How could she mistake him for a professional chef?  Then, a more sobering realization came upon me:  this average, normal person had no idea what my friend was wearing.  She didn’t know what his uniform signifies.  The common person simply did not know that my friend was a priest.

Now I don’t want to blow this out of proportion or make more of it than it is – just a one-time, slightly funny mix-up.  However, it is something that deeply scares me.  So many Catholics are not attending Mass, so many families have no connection to Holy Mother Church, and swiftly – as this story shows as a microcosm – the Holy Faith is becoming unrecognizable in the public square.

There is still great hope for the future.  Christ and His Apostles dealt with as much.  More on this to come soon, for now, ponder this:  if the uniform of the priest baffled the common-person, how much more so will Catholic dogma be foreign to them?

God be near,

Father Jeremy