So, the visiting reader wants to know, why this blog exists and what the author of it hopes to share with the masses who visit it?
I remember that early in my years of priesthood I began to read the book The Diary of a Country Priest by George Bernanos published in 1936 (translated into English 1937). To be honest I don’t remember if I ever finished the book. Even today, the book sits within view on my office bookshelves. (Well it was, until I moved to Trenton in the summer of 2011 – Now I’m not sure where it is, but I think it’s with the rest of the novels I brought with me in the guest quarters.) The novel is the diary of a fictitious idealistic young Catholic priest in an isolated French village describing his own struggle with faith and events in his parish. The book review on the Amazon.com web site states “This may sound like a thin plot for a novel, but Diary of a Country Priest, by George Bernanos, remains one of the 20th century’s most vivid evocations of saintly life. First published in 1937, Bernanos’s Diary describes a faithful man’s experience of failure. In his diary, the priest records feelings of inferiority and sadness that he cannot express to his parishioners.” Perhaps this blog is my attempt to compose a 21st century “Diary of a not-so-isolated country village priest” in a similar vein. (Trenton, IL where I now live is only a 45 minute drive from St. Louis, MO and has a population of 2,715 “souls” who are not all Catholic.) I don’t presume to have the literary skills of Bernanos and I certainly do not think of myself as saintly or very holy even. Often I remind parishioners “Your pastor is not quite right for a priest.” Still, they seem to be o.k. with their very human pastor and say that my down-to-earth relationship with them helps them in their own faith and being Catholic. In this blog you’ll be able to read reflections on the life of my parish and my experience of priestly life. Unlike the country priest character of the novel this blog is a way I hope to share with parishioners and others some thoughts, insights and reflections that might lead them to see how God is at work making us all “saintly” in our humanness leading us to recognize that “the Kingdom of God is in our midst, already.”
What about the title, “An Altar-net View”? I thought it rather clever (and so did my previous parish’s pastoral associate and a few others I tried it out on, by the way).
For me, the most important part of my life, the most moving part of being a priest, is the ability to stand at the altar and preside at the Eucharist. It is at the altar, the focal point of every Catholic church building, that we Catholics experience an alternate reality to the brokenness of the world. At the altar we see a new, a radically different way of being human. At the altar we view life through the prism of the Paschal Mystery, that truth we profess which believes death leads to life, that every act of self-offering (no mater how small) for the sake of others has the potential of making life richer. As one author has put it, at the eucharist gathered around the altar we dine in the Kingdom of God. The reality of the Eucharistic table where the redemptive sacrifice of Christ is re-presented in the here and now is a reality the world desperately needs to dawn upon it forever, a day when “people of every race, language and way of life” (Eucharistic Prayer II for Reconciliation) are reconciled to one another and God. That’s the view from the altar I hope to present in this blog. And where am I presenting this view? Why on “the net,” of course! Get the pun? You might say I’m moving the vision, the proclamation of the Kingdom of God from the Altar to the Internet in my own little corner of the world-wide web. 😉
May you enjoy and be inspired reading my “Diary of a Small, sort of rural, Village Priest.” Thanks for stopping by.