Some people may find it hard to believe—since I have to do it practically every day—but one of the greatest fears in my life is speaking in public. When I initially contemplated a priestly vocation, I actually thought that it would be great being a priest—as long as I didn’t have to say anything publicly. I know that this particular fear exists for many people. I have worked to overcome my anxiety over the years, with God’s grace.
That being said, I still very much like being quiet and alone at times. Whether in my room, driving in my car, praying in church, or walking along the beach, I like my quiet time. Basically, I am an introvert. This means that usually I get re-energized when I am alone. It’s not that I don’t like being around people or haven’t been able to develop the necessary interpersonal skills required as a priest. Extroverts get recharged being around people. I am just the opposite.
I think that knowing who I am and trying to understand myself, helps me to comprehend some of the decisions that I make. Why do I gravitate towards a silent, monastic retreat? Why do I find so much solace praying quietly in front of the Blessed Sacrament? Why do I usually vacation in places where I can find quiet and peace of mind? (Why am I writing this to you from one of those quiet places?)
I am on vacation right now recharging my battery. I like the beach—having grown up at the Jersey shore—and so I frequently spend time near an ocean or shore. For a few days, I will be alone (with God, of course!). For the major part of the vacation, a couple of my friends will join me. My ultimate goal is to be refreshed and renewed when I return to the parish. I have time to pray (especially the Mass as I bring my travelling Mass-kit with me), to read, to write, to exercise and just to relax.
Reflecting on Jesus’ life, He too was found at various places—by the sea (Mt. 4:18), in the wilderness (Lk. 5: 16), up the mountain (Mk. 6: 45-46, Lk. 6: 12), in the garden (Lk. 22: 39-46)—where He could pray, reflect and be alone. I suspect He knew best how to find the necessary quiet time after days of preaching, teaching and ministry.
I usually find that it does me a world of good to withdraw from the daily routine for some extended time and to find a corner of the world where I can recharge my inner battery. Besides, the parish staff usually agrees that I am much more pleasant and easier to work with after some time away! Just think of how good this vacation time is for them!
See you in another week!
Fr. Ed Namiotka