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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

After the break...

Fr Ray Nobiletti then shared an incident while concelebrating Mass with Auxiliary Bishop Octavio Cisneros at Huntington seminary in Queens. The bishop recounted the feeling of humility he experienced in that same chapel years before when he prostrated himself before that same altar when he was ordained.

This comment caused Ray to reflect on his own ordination when there was no feeling of humility but rather how now he was a missionary priest sent to set the world on fire. He went to Hong Kong and was still in language school when circumstances at a local parish necessitated his becoming pastor. His first funeral Mass caused panic. He wasn't fluent in Cantonese; he wasn't sure of his theology of death and resurrection. He wanted to back out. A Maryknoll Sister brought him back to reality.

"Ray, they are not interested in your theology," she said. "They want you, their pastor, to be with them in their sorrow. You will say that Mass." Then as a parting shot she added, "And your Cantonese stinks."

He came to realize it's not what we say but what we represent that is important. Ray had so much time on leaning language, liturgy, the "mechanics" of priesthood without concentrating on cultivating those pastoral skills that enabled him to be more present to the people.

Humility, according to Ray, is built into a mission vocation. Going to a different culture and learning a new language should be humbling. Our foreign mission charisms may not always be understood or appreciated by others.

The priesthood has changed; the brotherhood has changed; and mission has changed.

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