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Ave!—Hello! | Catholic Life


Ave! This should be my salutation

addressed to everyone with Mary’s joy.

Ave! This is an announcement of grace,

reconciliation, renewal and resurrection.

Ave! This is a wish of divine benediction.

Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan

I had just finished reading Van Thuan’s thoughts on the importance of the Ave. And I had resolved to work on greeting others with joy and openness. For how am I ever to get to the point of offering the perfect fiat to God when I cannot even offer an open ave to the people I encounter each day?

And then I was stopped in my tracks by a man.

Man: Hello, I see you around here a lot.

Me: Yes, I live right down the road. I like to stop and talk to St. Joseph.

Man: What is your name?

Me: ____

Man: Oh, I would have guessed Maria.

I smile. And he continues to ask me a bit about the man he has seen me with (my husband) and where I am from origionally. He also tells me that I am welcome any time and talks about a noise from a nearby car and the weather.

I answer his questions and smile and nod a lot. But other than asking his name (ah! I did not guess the “Father” given his clothing and the fact that I have never seen him celebrate mass at the chapel or oratory) and where he was from originally, I do not extend the conversation. I would have liked to talk more, but I could not tell how much he felt like talking and how much he was just finding out who it was who was walking around the grounds for which he had some responsibility.

And yet, maybe I did know that he wanted to talk. Just like that young priest almost a year ago… the one whom I answered politely and shyly, waiting to see whether my husband or friend would jump in. They continued to pray, and I felt awkward talking in church. So I answered his questions and ignored his obvious need to hang out with random young adults who found it worth the time to be at daily mass and pray morning prayer.

I view priests as humans. I greatly pity the isolation of the typical parish priest. Given my religious interests I typically find priests more interesting than the average person. But I am not friends with priests. I always assume that they have better things to do than to talk with me. This is somewhat justified considering how busy they are and the many times I have seen their eyes fill with dread at being cornered by some parishioner who wants to talk endlessly, or confess urgent sins- even though they just received communion. Perhaps I just want to make sure that I am never the one who makes them wish that they had left the room in time to avoid me.

Or perhaps I just stink at loving others in the very simple human way of sharing conversation and offering friendship. Perhaps I just fall too easily into the role of the perfect child who never needs anything.

Oh God, please help me to love others, no matter what their role or title. Please help me to say “hello” with love, and follow it up with a confident offering of friendship in whatever form is appropriate at the time.

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2 Responses to “Ave!—Hello!”

  1. Princess Christy 05. Jun, 2010 at 5:32 am #

    I also find it hard to be “friends” with the priests. As the music teacher at a Catholic school, I have almost daily interactions with the parish priests. There was only one that I truly felt comfortable on a friend-ly level with. When he got moved, I cried and cried. I am hoping our new priest inspires such a relationship, as I also believe that sometimes the priests truly do just want to sit and chat.

  2. James 31. Jul, 2014 at 12:33 pm #

    In my eyes their are not so good things about all fathis and this article is one of them(what are they thinking about??).However your comments so far have done little to impress me instead we should be a little more constuctive and not so we are better than they attitude?

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