By: Michael Aun
Men of the cloth usually enjoy the benefit of the doubt. Some are gifted singers, orators or communicators. Other clergy lead with humility and hope.
The latter is what the majority of people prefer. They are more in the image of their respective belief systems. Many parishioners who don’t find common ground with their religious leaders do one of two things: 1. they fire the religious leader and lose or leave their faith; 2. they shop for another church that meets those needs.
Many have been blessed to be exposed to the likes of great humble priests. Joseph Cardinal Benardin was my first exposure to the greatness of humility. He taught Sunday School to my ten brothers and sisters at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Columbia, SC before going on to greater prominence in the faith.
Benardin touched many lives before falling victim to cancer, a disease that took his own father when he was only six. He wanted to become a physician when he entered the University of South Carolina but soon found his calling in the priesthood. He was lost too soon at the age of 68.
Other priests that possessed the same kind of humility included Monsignor Fabian Gimeno and Father David Scotchie, two men who served St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in St. Cloud, FL.
Monsignor Fabian retired after doing magnificent work for the parish. Father David moved on to build a new parish of his own at Most Precious Blood in Oviedo, FL.
Father David was the only priest I ever met who delivered his entire Homily and the Gospel without so much as looking at a page. In fact, he would often venture among those present, folding his arms over a closed book, and delivered the total Gospel word for word.
I used to work out with Father David at the gym each morning where I learned the secret to his memory. As he would run on the treadmill, he would be listening and memorizing the word of God through his headphones.
He would always say “It was about story telling” of which the Bible is chocked full. He extended his ministry even further, authoring two terrific books. A Prayer for Hope subtitled I Can’t. You Can. I’m Yours. (Released in 2014).
He followed with Can I Say A Prayer With You? subtitled A Beginner’s Guide to Praying with Someone. (Released in 2016) and available on Amazon.
Father David holds a Doctorate of Ministry in Preaching from the Aquinas Institute in St. Louis in addition to undergraduate degrees from Duke (Physics) and a masters from the University of Central Florida (MS in Ministry in Human Resources and Change Management) and a Masters of Divinity and Master of Arts in Christian Studies from St. Meinrad Seminary in Indiana.
And yet, from the altar, he appears to be a humble servant of God with no pretense. “Humility is the fruit of realizing that you are not the master of the universe,” writes Father David. “You give up the illusion that you only need rely on yourself.”
In his latest book, he turns to his human resource studies and makes the point “The fear of failure paralyzes business and individuals alike. For us who are used to being competent and respected, the fear of failure can make us hesitate to pray with someone. After all, praying with someone runs two risks.”
“The first risk,” he writes, “is that you pray with someone and nothing happens. You present yourself as able to help and you fail. You feel like a fool. Rather than let someone down, you do not even offer to pray with them.”
“The second risk is the opposite,” he observes. “You pray with someone and something does happen. They feel peace. They are given hope. A quiet strength blooms. They might tell you later that the situation you prayed for has changed for the better.” That’s the center piece of the book “Can I Say A Prayer With You?”
It’s a good read and I highly recommend it.
Michael Aun is the co-author of “Chicken Soup for the Soul – Living Catholic Faith.”