Well-Traveled Christians

ive-been-a-puppet-a-pauper-a-pirate-a-poet-a-pawn-and-a-king-ive-“Oh, I’m only a layperson,” we said about ourselves before Vatican II. That’s the priest’s job, “He’s smart. He has all the answers.”

Vatican II came along and invited…no, empowered all of you to recognize your gifts and talents and use them for the benefit of the Church, your family, your careers and in your personal lives. In other words, take me down a few notches and lift yourselves up several notches and we have what Vatican II called the “Mystical Body of Christ.”

Many of you may have taken more classes in Theology and Scripture study than I needed to do. Yet, I get that awesome title and you’ve received this rewarding and life-giving knowledge. Equal playing field? You bet.

I defer to that great philosopher of American musical standards, Frank Sinatra. He sang for us, “I’ve been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate, a poet, a pawn and a king.” (Too bad the lyricist couldn’t have thought of a sixth word beginning with the letter “p.” Frank would sing, “My, my.”

We have all lived those roles. Unfortunately, we may have stayed in one character a little longer than necessary.

I’m about to do all six in sixty seconds. This won’t take long, so don’t worry. If any of us have failed at any of the six then we just go back to Frank singing for us, “I’ve been up and down and over and out and I know one thing, each time I find myself flat on my face, I pick myself up and get back in the race…”

The puppet is mimicking our parents – the little girl wears mom’s big high heel shoes to see how they fit and he pretends to smoke a cigar like his dad. How does it feel until those parental strings are released? Doesn’t Jesus ask us to mimic him in sending us out into the world…every day?

The pauper role is when you’re stuck eating mac/cheese for weeks until your first job interview or promotion occurs. You trust the m/c will keep you alive as much as you hope your imagination holds firmly to your dreams. “In our weakness is strength,” says St. Paul again and again.

A pirate. Interesting. A pirate steals and claims it as his own as each of our gifts has been used and reused by others, but we slowly make it ours. Wasn’t salvation stolen for us by the crucifixion of Jesus? Scripture calls it “ransom,” but it amounts to the same thing.

All those characters became ours as we now become poets. Each of us with our own unique contributions, our personal twists on life’s twists, our revelations that someone else may not have considered. That’s a poet’s job.

But we don’t stop there, there’s still a “p” and a “k” ahead of us. The pawn should have been sung after puppet because being a pawn is a sacrifice. (Ask any parent or adult child who’s caring for a parent.) A sacrifice for a needy child when you wanted to play poker. The sacrifice of waiting up until 1:00 a.m. until you knew your daughter’s safely back home after missing her 10:00 p.m. curfew.

The last of Frank’s list is king, but it should’ve been “prince” to complete the six words beginning with the letter “p.” King is the satisfaction and governing over our well-lived lives. Bumps still bump, but now there’s a firm foundation helping us through life’s aging bumps because of those preceding and developed “p’s.”

Lay people? Priests, sisters or brothers? We’re all in the same boat called Jesus; with him at the helm and the Spirit at his back along with His Father smiling through the clouds.

We all did it. We’ve all completed all six in our six or more decades of life. Frank concludes the song as I end my little ditty, “My, my.”

                                                     “Letters From My Cats,”
a collection of humorous and reflective letters written by my cats over twenty years
                                                          “Soulful Muse,”

inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture
                                                  Living Faith’s Mysteries,”
inspirational reflections on the Christian seasons of
Advent/Christmas & Lent/Easter – a great seasonal gift
                                        “Spiritual Wonderings and Wanderings,”
inspirational reflections on the Catholic Church and U.S. culture

                         “Bowling Through Life’s Stages with a Christian perspective,”
Bowling as a metaphor for religion and growing up

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About Rev. Joe Jagodensky, SDS.

A Roman Catholic priest since 1980 and a member of the Society of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians). www.Salvatorians.com.
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