If I want to accomplish something, I sometimes get bulldoggish about it. “Single-minded” describes this trait in a positive light; “stubborn” and “myopic” describe it too. When I flew to Detroit for 12 days this summer for a gathering of Legionary writers, for example, I had no idea the city was practically in Canada; my sights were focused on writing. I wanted to get things done, put words on paper, and lots of ‘em. Read, write, submit, publish—that was the agenda. I could feel that little germ inside me whispering the familiar lie, “You are only as valuable as your work.” But my regal reception in Michigan put that pathogen in its place.
I was welcomed with a celebratory dinner on the lawn and toasts to my arrival, followed by a fervent Eucharistic hour in the community chapel. Friday acclimated me to my new environment: five Legionary priests in a large, red-brick house with roomy kitchen and renovated chapel. I settled into my workspace and cranked out a couple short pieces. I felt good; I was getting stuff done. But Saturday morning brought that to a standstill.
A half-day of retreat with our Lord was just what I needed. (It’s always that.) Community prayer on the love of God puts everything into perspective. Afterward, we prepared lunch, ate in fellowship, and washed the dishes. The fathers always wanted to know if I had gotten enough to eat, and I happily reassured them I was getting my bread and butter. They welcomed me because they see Christ in all people, certainly. But I think they were also inspired by seeing a young brother, the future of the Legion. What they may not have realized is my inspiration for seeing in them my future as a priest.
My single-mindedness reasserted itself on Sunday, and I wrote much. Too much, perhaps, and the community day on Monday came as a great relief. The royal treatment of the young brother by 5 priests continued through a round of disc golf, wonderful lunchtime conversation, a settlement of Catan, and evening Vespers (“Let me show you where the prayers are in the breviary, Brother.”). And all of this charity and joy backed up by sacrifice: Fr. Daniel waking up at 5 am to bring someone to the airport, and Fr. Timothy covering the Mass he would miss.
Internship is not so much about what we do but about who we are. Previously I wrote about internship from the perspective of all the things that I do or have accomplished or hope to accomplish: teaching, reading, writing, missioning, preaching—all of which could be classified as work. But the fabric of a Legionary intern’s life is a weave of many other strands as well—prayer, fraternal life, charity, sacrifice. These are by far the more important. The Detroit community nourished me with these essentials, and so I strive to be a balanced bulldog writer for Christ.