Priests and police officers have a lot in common, and it isn't just the spiffy uniform.
Think about this: You're cruising down I-35 or MoPac, when traffic isn't bumper to bumper if that's possible, and in your mirror you notice a police car behind you. The officer isn't after you -- no lights and siren -- but what do you do? Slow down and drive carefully, of course.
Even if you're already a law-abiding citizen behind the wheel, chances are you are still going to be a little on edge and be on your best behavior when you are in view of an authority figure who can pull you over and slap you with a citation.
|Image credit: Scott Davidson|
And then what happens when the police car passes you and disappears into the traffic ahead? You relax a little bit, go back to normal, hit the gas pedal and pick up the pace again.
Now let's change the scenario from cop to clergy. After a long and hectic Friday at work, you decide to join your coworkers at happy hour to unwind. Your favorite Austin watering hole is crowded, and the tables are close together. Maybe you and you friends are complaining about the job or even your boss. The people at the next table leave, and a priest sits down. I think many people would be little more careful with their actions and words knowing that they're sitting right near a priest.
|Image credit: openclipart.org|
I love asking priests this question: When you are out and about in the community, is it noticeable how differently you are treated when in priestly garb compared to regular clothes? The answer is almost always a resounding yes. One priest even joked that he always wears his collar to the barber because he gets a free haircut that way. If he were just another customer, he'd be paying full price.
When a priest is in regular clothes and running a quick errand, to those around him he's just a stranger. But when he's dressed as a priest, many people shape up and act differently.
[To read this rest of this story, please click over to Austin Catholic New Media.]