Fr. Shawn P. Tunink

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Don’t Put it Off

Brother CallistusI admit that I tend to be a procrastinator. It seems so hard to get started some times. These days it tends to be an assignment for Canon Law that slips down the priority list. I suppose it’s one thing to put off doing “stuff,” but sometimes I know that I can be guilty of putting off people as well. That’s not so good.

My new home here in Washington, DC is at the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land. Although I haven’t been here that long I have really worked hard to try to get to know the friars of the community. I’m a natural introvert, so going out of my way to strike up conversations with strangers can be hard for me to get started. However, I had the opportunity recently to strike up a conversation with one of the more “experienced” friars here.

Each night before bed I normally head down to the kitchen for a glass of milk. It didn’t take long being here to notice that every night one of the friars was also down in the kitchen washing the little tray of dishes that had piled up after dinner. There he was each night, but I never really talked to him. I kind of felt guilty adding one more glass to his effort. You know it was kind of neat though. This was his niche. His way of contributing each day to the monastery even if his noticeable feeble condition kept him from most other tasks.

One night last week I was down having my milk as normal and it kind of hit me; I see this friar every night and basically just ignore him. I don’t know why I was putting off talking to him. Maybe I was worried that his hearing wasn’t so good and a conversation would be difficult. Whatever it was, I remember telling myself that this was dumb and that I really ought to go at least try to have a conversation. The thought even came to my mind about how I would feel if I passed up talking to him one more time and then found out he died or something. I know…that’s weird…but sometimes thinking about what I would do differently if I knew the world was ending helps me break out of my procrastination.

I finally decided to go talk to him. I introduced myself. He told me his name was Brother Callistus. I thought that was a wonderful name as I admire the martyr Callistus very much. We had a great conversation. We didn’t talk long, but I remember feeling very glad that I had gotten over that ridiculous hurdle. Here was a man with a beautiful history of religious life that I put off talking to for too long.

In the last few days I have become even more appreciative of my brief conversation with Br. Callistus. You see, the next day there was a sign up at the monastery that Br. Callistus had been taken to the hospital. He died earlier this week…on his feast day…the memorial of St. Callistus. We celebrated his funeral today and his body now rests in the cemetery here just a few yards away from where we had our little talk.

Now each night as I head down to the kitchen for a glass of milk before bed, I can’t help but notice the pile of unwashed dishes sitting by a quiet sink and I remember Br. Callistus. I’m glad I didn’t wait one more day. How important it is that we take advantage of the time God gives us and not put off following the little inspirations of the Holy Spirit.

I’ve got a big paper due tomorrow that I’ve been putting off…but it’s almost my bedtime. It’s time to head down for some milk. You know though, I think I might just have enough time tonight to do some dishes in honor of a friar of happy memory. Rest in peace, Br. Callistus. I’m glad we got to talk.

3 Responses to Don’t Put it Off

  1. Christian

    Wow. Sometimes the body trains the soul; sometimes the soul trains the body. Years ago I had to force myself to speak to people I didn’t know. But having been rewarded by doing so, as you have been, has made it second nature at this point in my life.

  2. Jamey Brown

    Thank you. What a beautiful story. I have just become acquainted with St. Callistus after reading about him on his feast day.
    May the good God bless Br. Callistus. He looks like such a kind and gentle soul. I wish I could have met him.

  3. Kathy Sexton

    Father Shawn
    Your writing is so good. I thing you should send your stories to the national Catholic Register or another Catholic media outlet. K

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