I give you thanks, O Lord Isaiah 12:1
Well, the 45th anniversary of my priesthood ordination is Friday of this week and I don’t know what to do about it. What is a priest supposed to do on his 45th anniversary — take himself out to dinner, buy himself a ring, bake his own cake, blow out his own candles and take a “selfie” on his iPhone?
Taking myself out to dinner reminds me of what comedian Henny Youngman said about the secret to a long marriage. He said, “Some people ask the secret of our long marriage. We take time to go to a restaurant two times a week. A little candlelight, dinner, soft music and dancing. She goes Tuesdays, I go Fridays.”
Even though I won’t be buying myself a ring, I looked up “anniversary gem stones” and I was comforted by what I read:
“The gem stone associated with a 45th anniversary is a sapphire. A sapphire carries the blue symbolism of importance and confidence. Deeper sapphire blues carry a connotation of wealth, elegance, beauty and royalty. Traditionally, the sapphire, and by extension the color sapphire, symbolizes truth and sincerity.”
That’s me, alright!
I like to cook, but baking a cake for myself brings back bad memories. When I was living in a church basement in Monticello, Ky., I got snowed in once for several days. Out of boredom, I taught myself to make an Austrian Nuss Torte.
When it was finished, I took a picture of it and put it in the freezer until I could find someone with whom to share it. It finally developed freezer burn and had to be thrown out.
What is a priest supposed to do on his 45th anniversary? I could just stay home and put on some soft music — like that old country song by Tom. T. Hall. It says, “Well, me and Jesus we got our own things going. Me and Jesus, we got it all worked out. Me and Jesus, we got our own things going. We don’t need anybody to tell us what it’s all about.”
Now that would be pathetic.
I will spend some time at home thinking of all the wonderful people blessing my life in the last 45 years — Father Johnson and the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth who passed on the faith, Archbishop Floersh who approved me for the seminary, Archbishop McDonough who ordained me, Archbishop Kelly with whom I lived for 14 years, the priests who trained me in the seminary, the wonderful parishioners where I have ministered and the heroic lay ministers with whom I served.
I will think of my wonderful brothers and sisters, my fellow priests and all the faithful friends and generous benefactors who have supported me along the way. I will thank God for them because they made these 45 years a wonder.
On second thought, maybe I will try to re-create that Austrian Nuss Torte and invite some of them over to admire my new sapphire ring!
Father J. Ronald Knott