“When you can’t hear, you learn to listen.” ~ Michael C. Haymes
I see the death anniversary for Fr. James Cis coming up this week. When I was ordained a priest in 1983, my first assignment was as a full-time instructor at Bishop Noll Institute and as an associate pastor at St. John Bosco Church in Hammond. Fr. Michael Heimer was the pastor at that time and became my first-assignment pastor for two years.
Fr. Heimer had a retired priest scheduled to help with our Masses throughout the week and on the weekends. He was Fr. Cis. Fr. Cis was a kindly old priest, sort of like a grandfather character. His only real problem, by his own admission, was that he was hard of hearing.
Now, when I say hard of hearing, I don’t mean that he missed things that were being said every so often. No. With Fr. Cis, when I say hard of hearing, I mean that you had to practically shout as you looked directly at him in order for him to have a chance to hear you. He was as close to deaf as anyone I had ever met up to that point.
But what he lost in hearing, he more than made up for in compassion and service. He lived to serve others, even in his retirement, and would do whatever anyone asked. He was even a confessor for many people.
Now, that being said, you would want to stay far away from his confessional so that you wouldn’t hear the penitents shouting their sins so that he could hear them. The regulars always came with a pad of paper and a pen so they could write their sins for him to read.
But people would still flock to him because they saw something more than a nearly-deaf old man. They saw the face of Jesus beckoning them to come closer to Him. They saw the face of Jesus understanding their pain, doubt, or confusion. They saw the face of Jesus bringing them peace.
Too often, we stop ourselves from doing things because we don’t think we can get them accomplished properly. If Fr. Cis would’ve applied that same logic, he wouldn’t have helped at parishes or reached out to people because of the communication problem. Instead, he rushed in headlong and trusted that Jesus would fill in all the gaps.
Are there things that we do not do because we have already labeled ourselves failures? Are there things we shy away from because we do not think we have the ability needed to accomplish them? Maybe it’s time to trust that God can fill in the gaps.
FAITH ACTION: Trust that God will help you.