When any of the priests are ‘on call’ or ‘on duty’, it means that we have to handle anyone that comes in through the door asking to speak to a priest, any devotee of the St Jude Shrine that needs something blessed, or any hospital call that comes in from CPMC, Kaiser or Mount Zion. Within my first month of being here, I’ve learned to keep these days particularly light…just in case God has something else planned.
Anyway, there is an actual “on call phone”, an older phone with limited abilities. We hand this off to each other, and because of it, the phone has a nickname—“the Torch”. Often, when Fr. Michael and I are handing off the phone to each other, one of us sings the Chariots of Fire theme song, with the other in a slow-moving running stance, racing towards the other. I know, it doesn’t sound so dramatic, but at least it makes the Novices laugh. Well, it made them laugh twice. Maybe once. Maybe at all.
Not too long ago, we had a botched hand-off. After I got the phone from the Pastor, I ended up dropping the phone in front of the house chapel. He turned around, saying, “You dropped your cross, man!”
I looked at him, and gave him a smirk, and pocketed the phone.
Now here’s the thing. I know that I’ve written so much about have the Torch in my pocket. However, despite the fact that The Torch has given me so much content, I cannot say that it’s my favorite task. And I think you can understand why: you are the guy who gets called if someone is dying. You are the guy that has to wake up at 3:17 in the morning if a nurse at the hospital needs an emergency anointing. The Torch is a bad comparison to the Holy Spirit—fiery, unpredictable, uncontrollable, and always pining for your attention, always calling you at the oddest times to say something that will get you in the gut. There is always that little something in the crevice of your heart, just wondering…is this the night when I will be awakened at 3:02 in the morning?
So when Fr. Michael asked me to pick up my Torch, he was saying something without saying something. He was reminding me of why I am here. With you. Not merely to watch football and nerd out about the Boy Who Lived. But to be that instrument of sacrifice. We are all called to pick up our own Torch, and cast that light of Christ to all. Especially when it is inconvenient, when we are exhausted, and when feeling cowardly. So many times, I must remind myself of the great privilege it is to be called the son of God, the brother of the Savior, and an instrument of the Fire of God.
So yes, I guess you can say that there was a lot in that smirk I gave Fr. Michael when he told me to pick up the Torch. But at least I pocketed the phone, albeit with a quick prayer for a lighter day.
Holy Father Dominic, pray for us!