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 was 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 other parts of the vacation, a couple of my friends plan to 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 a couple weeks!
Fr. Ed Namiotka