Writing this column requires a new idea every seven days.
On top of that I have to develop that idea into something worthwhile in the neighborhood of 500 words.
This frequently feels like a pretty intimidating challenge.
Then I think of the priest or minister.
At least once a week, he must present sterling thoughts.
To a frequently impatient audience.
Hoping to send them home inspired.
Surveys taken on a regular basis over the last several years indicate that Americans list public speaking as their number one fear.
Think about that.
Jerry Seinfeld once joked that the survey results mean that at a funeral, you'd rather be the guy in the box than the guy giving the eulogy.
That's a lot of pressure to be faced by men of the cloth on at least a weekly basis.
According to the book of John, Jesus told St. Peter to "feed my sheep".
That's why our clergymen painstakingly prepare to ensure that homily really hits home for members of his captive audience.
The lyrics of "Eleanor Rigby" convey some of the loneliness that must be experienced by those that wear the Roman collar.
"Father McKenzie, writing the words of a sermon that no one will hear."
Perhaps no one will hear the sermon because no one will attend the funeral of Eleanor Rigby.
But nonetheless, Father McKenzie toils away to prepare the message for what may be a nonexistent congregation.
Are you a non-existent congregation?
Physically present but mentally AWOL?
Do you pay attention when father ascends the pulpit?
Do you understand the solemn commitment he's made in preparing those few minutes of talking time on Sunday morning?
Most of these men deliberate long and hard to find the phrasing and substance to usher you into a world of understanding God's word.
The least you can do is listen closely and considerately.
Please don't use this as your chance to catch up on the announcements in the bulletin.
Don't plan out the rest of your day in your mind.
It's pretty hard to feed the sheep when the sheep ignore the meal offered.
Let me mention one other shining example which, by the grace of God, is typical of priestly dedication.
Over at St. Casimir's on Neff road, Father Joseph Bacevice pastors.
He celebrates the 7:30 AM service Monday through Friday.
I've been counting the number of attendees, and it rarely exceeds 18 people.
Despite this, father has a thoughtful sermon prepared for each of these sparsely attended masses.
He's not winging it.
I appreciate that.
No matter how small the congregation or how obvious the moral found in the readings, the sermon is a chance to do something very important.
It's a chance to touch hearts.
And for the sake of touching only one heart, all that grueling preparation is worth it.
That's why I ask you to listen.
There are times when you need to be quiet and absorb.
Maybe that one heart he touches will be yours.