Good afternoon from a sunny Hyde Park where I’m having a bit of a rest and taking some of the sun.
Conscious of the area of evangelisation and bringing people to know Jesus and the church I was suddenly struck by a man in a black suit walking briskly carrying an umbrella….
As I looked around I noticed that it wasn’t Charlie Chaplin but it was in fact a priest!!
To be honest my heart sunk a bit as I considered the 2 worlds in front of me. One being a world full of ordinary people enjoying the sun and the other being the world of religion.
I wondered what image this priest gave of God and the church as he walked by the young people roller skating.
Was it the same image that I had growing up? That God was against fun, against enjoyment and was permanently serious……even on a bright and sunny day?!
Could I imagine my younger self walking up to this priest years ago and pouring out my heart to him?
Could I imagine telling him about my issues with sexuality, pornography…?Certainly not!!
Did this priest look fun or happy or kind? No!
Did he look like he had the answers to the love and happiness that I was looking for? No!
And then I considered how I’m dressed today. I’m in a pair of shorts and a tshirt and if a stranger saw me they’d see absolutely nothing religious about me whatsoever!
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not condemning this priest or saying that there is something wrong with religious dress but what I am saying is that surely it has a time and a place.
Evangelisation is about bringing people to God through sharing with them the love and light and freedom that we have received. I’m sorry to say but dressing like that priest could have the opposite effect and scare people away like a scarecrow on a open field.
(Meet Worzel Gummage from my childhood).
And so today as I reflect on this I continue to pray for priests and my prayer is that they can be both holy and human, priests and people, fathers and friends.
I pray that those who have been ensnared by the oppressive chains of religion will be set free by the love of our heavenly father who desires so much for them to be happy and whole.
I pray for their emotional and inner healing that they may be free and comfortable in their bodies and sexualities and that they do not feel that they have to dress in black with an umbrella on a bright and sunny day!
Mindful of this saint, JP II who loved the theatre, used to go camping with youth groups as a young priest and wrote extensively on sexuality and humanity. I entrust to his intercession all priests and the mission of evangelisation where new and creative means of reaching out to a different world are needed.
Come Holy Spirit, renew the face of the church with your love and power!
P.S. May God bless also that priest in the picture and free Him of anything holding his priesthood back.