Checking in with the Boss

Fr. Kevin Dillon

Fr. Kevin Dillon is the Pastor of St. Boniface Martyr Parish, Sea Cliff, Long Island, NY.

Canon Law requires priests and deacons to make an annual retreat of at least five days.  It is a time away from the demands and responsibilities of a priest or deacon’s regular full time ministry.  This time alone, away from the ordinary rhythm and demands of ministry allows a priest to refresh and renew himself spiritually and to deepen his relationship with Jesus Christ.  This past week I made my annual retreat with another priest friend at the Campion Renewal Center, a Jesuit run retreat house in Weston, Massachusetts.  I always look forward to making my retreat as it affords me the opportunity for silence,   solitude and reflection something I cherish and value as part of my priesthood,  Prayer and contemplation are key ingredients in fueling and sustaining the priestly life.  In fact not only is it important for priests but is equally valuable for all people.

In learning about prayer, silent contemplation is a special dimension that very few of us have fully grasped.  Most of us are not skilled in simply beholding God.  Life is busy and fast paced.  All of us are easily distracted and influenced by the noisy distraction of our modern day culture.  There are very few public places where we can be alone with ourselves for some quiet meditation.  It seems wherever we go someone is talking on a cell phone or there are other unnecessary background noises.  Our culture is noisy and in the midst of a whirlwind of activity that we have so often misunderstood as important or necessary, we have missed the beauty and necessity of learning the discipline of silence before God.

hile it is not possible for many people to go away to a retreat house for a period of several days, it IS POSSIBLE TO SPEND TIME IN SILENCE AND PERHAPS MAKE A RETREAT LOCALLY, even if it means just going for a walk for an hour, or visiting the beach (we are fortunate to have beaches within walking distance for many people in St. Boniface).  We have prayer groups and various devotions on a regular basis here at St. Boniface, and of course we have MASS EVERY DAY.  One does not even have to leave his/her home.  A favorite room or comfortable place can be made for you and others in your home where YOU CAN BE STILL; WHERE YOU CAN BE ALONE WITH GOD. We so often miss out on the life of contemplation, one of beholding the beauty of Jesus.

In the rectory here at St. Boniface we have a sign hanging in the kitchen and a plaque in our living room and both have the same saying, BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD.  It serves as a constant reminder to Fr. Azubuike and I as well as the other priests and individuals who visit the rectory about what is really important, ONENESS WITH GOD, and that it is ultimately GOD WHO IS IN CHARGE!

Take a portion of your day to sit silently before God.  If you are at home, behold the beauty of your home perhaps admire the attractiveness of your back yard or neighborhood.  If you visit the beach view the water and the rhythm of the waves crashing against the shore and become aware of the cycle of the tides and how NO HUMAN BEING CAN CONTROL OR STOP THE CYCLES OF THE TIDES.  Behold and delight in the might and majesty of God!

Scripture tells us we must be still to truly know God.  Silence is a necessary art if we truly want to know God.  It is a gift from God.  Make it a priority; if you’re in the car, turn off the music and think about God.  If you have the time make a short retreat; stop in Church for a few minutes and sit in silence before the Blessed Sacrament.   There is a story about a French farmer and the Cure d’Ars.  The farmer would remain for hours before the Blessed Sacrament in silence and stillness gazing upon the tabernacle and when the Cure d’ Ars asked him what he did there he simply replied: “I LOOK AT HIM AND HE LOOKS AT ME.”

Fr. Kevin’s letter appears each week in print and online in the St. Boniface Martyr Parish Bulletin.

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