Monday, October 12, 2015


I only remember him as Father Ralph. He was often rather unkempt, rather unfocused. More so than I'd ever thought a priest should be. Yet he had a quality which I cannot quite put a word to. His hair was usually uncombed, his appearance nearly always unrefined, and indeed shallow.

I suspect he had his demons. That's okay, though. We all have our demons, if we were ever honest enough with our selves to recognize it. His demons seemed quite apparent that day, his countenance unsure.

I met him unexpectantly at the back aisle of a neighborhood grocery store. He seemed confused; his collar was askew. He had in his hand a package of hot dogs. He was looking for dinner that Sunday afternoon. I think he had settled on hot dogs for supper right before I had seen him.

We spoke. I had seen him first, and greeted him. He answered, "Hi Marty". I replied something like, "How are you, Father Ralph?"

We spoke for a few minutes, the small talk of the confused having stumbled upon one another. He eventually began to talk about, for whatever reason, humility. He opined that it is the most difficult virtue. He said to me that what is most difficult about humility is that once you realize that you're humble, you aren't humble anymore. He seemed at that point very humble. Far more so than I have seen among anyone I've ever seen.

I think that I am too familiar with his demons. That is, of course, presumption. I am being far too unfair to Father Ralph. He, however, is far more humble than I represent. It is a lesson which I pray I do not forget.

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