I’m a pastor — What’s your superpower?

25 May 2014 — Homeport: Falmouth Harbor — “Star Wars” released on this date in 1977 

You know me, dear readers, I’m from the old school. I prefer to do things the way I’ve always done them. My theme song is “Tradition,” from “Fiddler on the Roof.” Tradition is the reason I never purchase things online. 

I was recently tempted to suspend my traditional ways in order to use this newfangled online buying process. What I found available only online was a T-shirt. It was a black shirt with white lettering. It said, “I’m a pastor — what’s your superpower?” I hasten to add that I successfully resisted the temptation.

This, of course, prompted me to ask the question, “If I had the chance to choose a superpower, what would be?” These are the options that immediately came to mind.

Telepathy might be helpful. With telepathy, I could read people’s minds. Anyone who deals with the public realizes that what you hear people say is not necessarily what they mean. Nor do folks always voice what they are thinking. The printed agenda is often not the actual agenda. Yes, telepathy would be a useful superpower for any pastor. Professor X, the telepath in the comic book and film series “X-Men,” for example, would make a good pastor, all things considered.

What else? Well, St. Claire of Assisi was able to envision from her convent sickbed the Solemn High Mass of Christmas while it was being celebrated in the local church. She is, by the way, the patron saint of television (a word based on the Greek for “vision from afar”). I could see and hear people without being physically present. Wait. Maybe that would be more than I need to know.

Beyond that, there are also the clairvoyant visions of future and past events experienced by St. Teresa of Avila. Then there is teleportation. From “X-Men,” we have the Catholic priest teleport with the code name Nightcrawler. I could only be in one place at a time, but at least it would be a place of my own choice. 

Consider bilocation. I could be in two places at the same time. They say this was a superpower possessed by St. Anthony of Padua, St. Ambrose of Milan, and St. Martin de Porres. Think of how much I could get done if there were two of me. Why not up the ante to tri-location or go for broke with omnipresence? I’d never again have to choose between attending one 7 p.m. meeting and another. I could simultaneously be everywhere I needed to be. 

What about “omni-lingualism?” Once, I was sure I could speak English adequately enough — now, not so much. Sometimes I have to rephrase my words several times and still I can’t make myself understood. Definitely, being able to speak all languages would be a wonderful tool.

The superpower of time-travel would certainly facilitate pastoral planning. I could just jump ahead a decade or so and see where decisions made in the present have led. Then, back I would go to the present and make suitable adjustments. Unfortunately, according to space/time theorists, if I changed anything in the present, I would change future results. It’s best not to mess with the continuum.

Morphing would be another awesome superpower to possess. It serves Mystique, that blue lady, quite well. I would have the ability to shift into whatever form a parishioner prefers in a pastor. I would no longer have to just be myself but would have an infinite number of selves from which to choose. I could be “all things to all men” as St. Paul demands.

What about the superpower of weather-manipulation? In the comic book series “X-Men,” and in the subsequent films, there is a character capable of changing the weather. Her name is Storm. I would prefer a character named Sunny, but it wasn’t my choice to make. Never again would I be forced to cancel Mass because of a blizzard or hurricane.

For purely selfish reasons, dear readers, I would sometimes welcome the superpower named invisibility. Then, when I am off-duty, I could literally disappear.

Of all the superpowers, there is one I most desire. It’s empathy — the ability to read the hearts of others. I think of Aquaman of the “Justice League,” who shows so much empathy towards the creatures of the sea. Empathy is quite common among the saints. There are St. John Vianney and St. Pio of Pietrelcina among many others. Empathy is a necessary superpower for priests who hear Confessions. Not to brag, but a line usually forms outside the Penance room when I am hearing Confessions. This is due to the simple fact that I am hard-of-hearing in my left ear. I would much rather the line formed due to my renowned empathy. 

When you come right down to it, dear readers, priests have no superpowers. We are just as normal as you are. That would be a good thing. Mostly. 

Anchor columnist Father Goldrick is pastor of St. Patrick’s Parish in Falmouth.

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