Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

One of the forms of prayer that priests, religious sisters, and the like engage in is known as the Liturgy of the Hours. An ancient form of prayer, it’s based in the Scriptures, particularly the Psalms. There are different times of day in which this prayer occurs (Morning, Mid-day, Evening, etc) and while there are certain changes that coincide with the different liturgical seasons, the Psalms are prayed with a particular rhythm, repeating for the most part over a four week cycle. Since I’ve been praying the Liturgy of the Hours for nearly twenty years at this point, the words of the Psalms often echo in my mind in certain circumstances.

Earlier this week, I attended our annual priest convocation for the Diocese of Trenton. And it reminded me of the beginning of Psalm 133, “How good and pleasant it is, when brothers dwell together as one!” We often speak of the priesthood as a brotherhood and there is a real familial sense in the vocation of priest, despite the fact we are celibate. Now, having a flesh and blood brother myself, I know that it’s not really the same. But the closeness that exists among priests, simply because we are priests together, is something to pay attention to. And while I’m not personally best friends with every priest in the Diocese of Trenton, I feel blessed to be part of the fraternity of priests that exists within it.

One of my favorite things to do while away at the convocation is to spend time with some of the older priests. I also hang out with my friends and classmates, those guys that I was in the seminary with and are closer to age with me. But over the course of the various meals together and times in between the presentations and Masses, I love to talk with those priests that have a lot of years in ministry and oftentimes a wealth of stories from them. It’s both educational and encouraging to hear what they’ve done or been through and depending on who’s telling the story, quite entertaining as well. Without this annual chance to gather and have several days together, the opportunity for such conversations are hard to find. Yes, I gather with other priests from time to time and there’s great value in that as well. But the ability to see and speak with brother priests who I don’t usually interact with is a real blessing that the convocation helps create.

And so, I’m hoping that I’m coming back to the parish a bit refreshed and renewed by the whole experience. It’s not always easy losing a couple days out of the parish, but I firmly believe it’s necessary when it comes to the convocation. It gives me the space to echo once more in my heart, “How good and pleasant it is, when brothers dwell together as one!”

Peace and Goodness,

Fr. Dan