Priests…Have we forgotten them?
What has happened? Why is the priesthood in such turmoil? Is it because we have tried to mold priests into something we want instead of allowing them to be what we need or most importantly what they have been called to be?
It seems as though the dignity of the priesthood has been trampled upon. We no longer see them as alter Christos, [other Christs] but our “weekend buddy”. They are asked, by various “lay ministers” of this and that, to perform tasks that by Church Law they cannot do and when they refuse a letter or phone call goes out to the bishop to complain. Since the bishop wants no strife in his life or the diocese he forces the priest to perform the task that has been asked of him, and possibly, to make a public apology for his error. If that is not bad enough, persons have left the Church because the priest has denied their request and gone off to a non-catholic faith to get what they want.
How often do we, as Catholics, pray for our priests, bishops and the Holy Father? If anyone in the world needs prayers, it is them. All of our clergy and religious need our prayers because they are under constant attack and at times succumb to the temptations of the evil one, who is always on the prowl trying to destroy the sacred ranks of the priesthood and religious life.
We have come to relish more the worldly allurements than to strive for a perfect faith. This makes it even more difficult for priests to preach the Gospel because our ears are closed and our minds are on what we are going to be doing as soon as we can get out of the church. Our Mass has been cut short with the Novus Ordo. We don’t even give a whole hour of worship anymore. The priest has to do a comedy act to keep our attention, lest we fall asleep or totally lose interest in what he is saying. So much that needs to be said is not, because we won’t allow the priests to really get down to brass tacks and tell us what we really need to hear and practice in our daily lives.
I know of one new priest, ordained for only a short time, becoming so disillusioned that he wanted to leave the priesthood less than a year after his ordination. All that he hoped and desired to be was dashed on the rocks. The secular Carmelite community, of which I am a member, was asked to pray for him during his struggle for discernment. To this day, I don’t know if he has remained a priest or not. What a shame. What a shameful people we are!
These days our priests are practically mauled when everyone is leaving after Mass. Women are hanging all over him. Years ago the proper way to greet a priest was to kiss his hand and maybe say along with it, “Praised be to You, Lord Jesus Christ.” Saint Jean-Marie Vianney said, “When you see the priest, think of Our Lord Jesus Christ.” Do we see Christ in our priests? Or are they our buddies that we just slap on the back and joke around with? How deplorable we have become.
Women come to Mass dressed…how should I say, dressed like street walkers; during the summer months, the clothes will get more scanty and tighter. It’s as though they have no concept of the true Presence or the person of Christ in the priest. Men with their T-shirts advertising who knows what and young people…don’t even get me started on that path.
Let’s face it; we have no respect for the Office of the Priesthood. We are working hard to bring it down to the lowest level when we should be doing just the opposite. The Church and the Priesthood have enough problems from other sources and doesn’t need garbage flung within its own walls.
Let’s clean up our act and start giving our parish priests the respect they deserve. Stop calling him Fr. Bob, or Fr. Ted, but by his sir name as it should be out of respect. Dress appropriately not only for Father, who is another Christ, but for Christ truly present in the Tabernacle. The floor of the Tabernacle must be covered with Christ’s tears as He watches us parade in so poorly dressed and so irreverent. Pray for your priest! The crosses they must bear are heavy and it makes them weary. Let them be the priests they have been called to be for the good of your own soul.
The Holy Father is going to declare this year, 2009, The Year of the Priest. Pray for them! Everyday should be filled with little prayers and sufferings for our priests. Pray for strength and courage, for faith and virtue because they are human too and can fall prey to the wiles of Satan. They are our generals to lead us through the battles of this earthly life so that we may rejoice in Heaven forever and ever. Don’t forget them. Don’t leave them wounded on the battlefield.