Getting a haircut is not one of my favourite things to do, but last week the need was pressing and the opportunity presented. Always the hairdresser begins by asking what style I want and I never know what to say apart from “cut it” and “shorter.” My thinking is that I never see my own hair, so as long as it doesn’t offend other people, or distract them when we are in conversation, it is ok. So, with this sorted she made a start and I closed my eyes for a bit of down time.
But my hairdresser was ready for a chat, and with a couple of incisive key questions (including her opening “do you have children” she had discovered that I was a priest. “Interesting” she said. Her follow-up prod was unexpected: “Are you married?” “No” I replied, “Catholic priests don’t get married.” “But you are able to go out on dates with women” she continued.” “No” I responded, “priests make a commitment to celibacy and that means no marriage, no children.”
My hairdresser was visibly stunned. I watched her reaction in the mirror as she looked up and caught my eye. I noticed the surprised look on my own face. I have never met someone who had absolutely no idea about priests or their lifestyle.
This is a sign that we are in a new moment, a new era. For the first time in centuries we have the opportunity to present Christianity with a fresh vibrancy to people who are without the baggage of centuries.
I thought of this today when hearing another episode of the Acts of the Apostles at Mass. In those first decades of Christianity the disciples had the opportunity to present faith as a worthy, fresh and vibrant response to the ultimate needs of the human heart.
We are living in a privileged moment of grace to have this same opportunity.