M. Regina Cram
To all mothers with sons:
An annoying bell keeps ringing. Who makes that kind of racket at 2:30 a.m.? As you emerge from sleep, you realize its the telephone. You answer it groggily, scarcely remembering the conversation afterward. Someone needs to be anointed. Right away.
You pull on clothes and head into the darkness. A grieving family has gathered and its your role to anoint the dying and console the living. You linger a long while to accompany the family in their grief.
When you finally crawl back into bed, you plunge into such a deep sleep that you cant shake the stupor when the alarm rings an hour later. You drag yourself up, get ready for the day, and head next door to unlock the church. A parishioner complains that shes been waiting for 10 minutes, and sternly insists that you should get there earlier.
Thus begins your day.
The alarm awakens you from a restless sleep. Its Sunday morning. You get the kids dressed and fed, but they drag their feet the whole time, then bicker in the car. Why do kids always bicker on the drive to Mass?
You settle into the pew and quietly say hello to Jesus. Mass begins. There is familiar music, familiar prayers, familiar words. Its good to be here.
After the Nicene Creed, the lector leads the congregation in prayer. Together you pray for world leaders, for our men and women in the armed services, for the poor, the sick, and the dying. And as always, you pray for vocations to the priesthood and religious life.
That last prayer gets you thinking.
You have a son and two daughters. What if your son entered the priesthood? Do people actually do that anymore? What about a wife and children? What about law school, and studying abroad, and saving for retirement? What about your dreams for grandchildren who bear the family name?
It occurs to you that youre asking the wrong questions. The real question is, do you want your kids to take the faith seriously?
After Mass, you greet the priest. Would you come to our house for dinner sometime soon? you offer. Id love for our children to get to know you.
Theres a knock at the door. That better be the UPS guy, you call out in jest, because friends dont knock. They let themselves in.
Father Cormier walks through the door with a sheepish grin. Ill remember that next time, he promises as he greets you with a bear hug.
Assorted family members straggle in. Hi, Father Cormier! your son calls from across the kitchen. I am so sorry about the Yankees losing streak, he adds, dripping with sarcasm.
At least the Yankees dont flatten every year after the All Star Game, Father Cormier retorts. Both grin.
Theres a lively discussion over dinner about Father Cormiers new puppy and whether he wears black clothes to bed (he doesnt), and if he has any normal friends (he does). He answers questions about what he was like as a kid, which leads to a noisy argument about Major League baseball teams. Your kids are surprised to learn that Father Cormier played varsity baseball in high school, and that he had a serious girlfriend before deciding to enter the seminary.
I didnt know priests are allowed to date, remarks your younger daughter with a confused look.
Were not, Father Cormier explains, but I wasnt born a priest. I was a regular kid like you. God calls ordinary guys to be priests baseball players and computer geeks and college kids. He even allows Red Sox fans to be priests. Imagine that, he adds with a smirk.
Father Cormier wasnt at all what I expected, your son remarks the next morning. Hes pretty cool.
What about you? you inquire. Could you see yourself as a priest?
Your son is silent for a moment. Im thinking about it.
Regina Cram lives in Glastonbury and is a freelance writer.