With a rambunctious 18-month old, Mass is never dull. I am rarely able to participate the way I would like. This weekend we said goodbye to our beloved parochial vicar, Fr. Arul. He has been at St. Pat’s for almost seven years. While we are new to the parish, we instantly joined the fan club. Besides his gentle spirit and way with the kids, he preaches from a place that you can tell is deep. Plus, he also always gives a very practical piece of “homework” to work on in the week ahead. This past weekend, we were rushing to get to church on time and I was in a full sweat, barking at the kids, and wondering when Father’s Day weekend (or any weekend for that matter) will feel like a weekend again. Norah’s behavior only got worse and we could only stay at Father’s reception for a few moments before corralling everyone to get back in the car. I went from sweaty to angry. All I wanted was to have a fun night out with the family and send our best wishes with Father. After rushing the kids to bed, I plopped on the couch exasperated. Tricia asked me if I had heard any of Fr. Arul’s last homily to us. Despite Norah spilling grapes down my shirt and repeatedly sticking her fingers up my nose, I was able to catch the homework item he assigned us. He told us simply to fall in love with our vocation.
I can’t tell you much about Fr. Arul. I can’t list his major accomplishments, what he studied, or what his hobbies are. What I know, and what I believe everyone in that church knew, is that in every everyday moment you experience Fr. Arul, you experience a man who is in love with his vocation. It’s not through exuberance or a constant smile. He is someone who clearly knows that “the Holy Spirit gives him the strength to achieve holiness.” I thought about the moments I had shared with the kids that day and if those moments would be emblematic of a man who loved his fatherhood. How do I invite the Holy Spirit to change my view and appreciate the opportunity to find fulfillment in the difficult moments? What will the moments be that my children remember about how their father loved them? Chances are it won’t be the weekends I wished for, but rather those that I wished to be over. Perhaps my weekends are fuller than I know.