I love the stillness of August. So many of the activities of a priest are in abeyance during this fallow month, as schools are closed and parish groups enjoy a break for the summer.

It is time to catch our breath, pray, read and undertake many of the things that our usually hectic schedules cannot afford us.

I find I can spend longer with my home communicants and get to know the corners of the parish a little better. In a way August allows me to be the priest that I would like to be, if it were not for all the appointments and competing demands that are such a feature of modern priesthood.

The busyness of September, with its new school term and renewed parish activities, looms large, but the pace of August can become a sort of second Advent, pregnant with anticipation and abiding in hope.

Contemplation should be at the centre of a priest’s life and ministry, and each August I resolve to create something of the essence and spirit of this month in my daily routine for the rest of the year – although not always with success.

Archbishop Fulton Sheen strived to achieve something similar throughout his life. It would be hard to find anyone who is busier or more productive than he was. Yet creating breathing space was a discipline which gave him his vitality.

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