Yesterday I spoke with a priest friend who told me he was verbally attacked recently while wearing his clerical collar in a restaurant. He said it was quite a frightening experience and one that made him feel very uncomfortable. It was an experience that, with one possible exception from many years ago, I could not share with him. That occasion was rooted in a different time but I knew I was singled out for a bit of a tongue lashing because I was dressed as a priest.
I was in Athlone today (Saturday April 9th) at the wedding reception of two friends. Before the reception I went into a shop and made a small purchase. I was dressed in black – suit and collar – though I had the collar opened as I quite often have (my shirts seem to have gotten small!!!!!!) and, to be honest, I’m not always that comfortable with my top button closed.
The shop assistant was very good natured and as I turned to walk away she said “Oh, I didn’t see the bit of white until now”! “Don’t worry about that”, I replied “it’s a sort of dangerous thing to have these days”. “Not at all”, she said “it all depends on what you do with it”. I smiled and so did she – “you’ve nothing to fear”, she said.
What a timely observation! As I walked to the reception, I thought of what she said, and she’s right. The decision isn’t whether we should wear a clerical collar or not. The challenge is what we “do with it”.
I’m going to think about that ……………..