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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

An Excellent Take on a View of Pope Francis And How We Must Look At Catholicism Today

This is a good way for priests to self-evaluate and this is a GREAT way for us to self-evaluate.  

How are we approaching Catholicism?
[There are] similar dioceses [which] are only missionary dioceses when its priests exercise their missionary charism. The missionary charism is fueled by a love of humanity and recognizes the need for conversion. The urgency of the missionary charism has no room for comfort. As [Father] notes, the wise priest knows his limitations. Some priests, however, are graced to go beyond those limitations. 
The careerist priest is defined by his limitations. He knows there are only so many hours in the day, so he rigidly sets his schedule and will not deviate from it. Daily Mass is not always possible. If people cannot make it to Confession during the narrow window it is offered they can try to make an appointment, or just make a good Act of Contrition. If the parish is not too demanding, it might be a good place to stay for a while, so it's important to make friends with the families that can make the largest donations. Seeking and accepting public honors and private flattery will cement the parish's perception that the careerist is an exceptional priest and the steady support of the parish and the steady flow of weekly tithes will impress the bishop that the careerist is doing well. The career priest in a missionary diocese is sharp enough to know that most of the people he encounters are not going to be Catholics and he is not going to rock the boat. Converting Protestants is not nearly as high a priority as coexistence.
Now let's contrast the careerist with the patron saint of parish priests, John Vianney. John Vianney recognized his limitations too and he transcended them by his complete dependence on God. Instead of a half-hour on Saturday afternoons for Confessions, he lived in his confessional. He shunned honors and distrusted all praise. His best friend was Jesus Christ and his parish was moved by the profound love He showed Christ in his manner of saying Mass. His homilies were simple, clear and never pandering. He did not come to Ars to "get along" with everyone. He came to transform a flock indifferent to God and fish for more souls. His net was wide and his catch was incredible.
The choice for the parish priests parallels the choice the laity must make. The priest must ask himself: Do I want a nice retirement dinner with lavish testimonials about what a wonderful guy I am? or do I want to retire into the welcoming arms of God who gave his last ounce of energy for me when He took on human flesh? Am I more committed to keeping my honored place in the community than I am willing to be vilified, misunderstood and persevere? Am I willing to preach the truth and the whole of it, even when it's unpopular? Am I willing to risk having people walk out on my homilies? When powerful people who support homosexuality and abortion tighten their pressure on me, will I smile and look the other way or will I have the courage to speak the truth in love and, if necessary, lose their support? 
So too must the layman ask himself: Do I want a priest who can be my buddy or do I want a priest who will help me become Holy? Do I want a priest who will challenge me or do I want a priest who will let me stay comfortable? Will I support my priest, pray for my priest and make sacrifices for my parish to be a place that draws all people to Christ or will I complain to my bishop if my priest starts acting "too Catholic"?
The Catholic Church needs saints in collars and saints in the pews and all of us are called to become saints. We're not going to become saints by conducting business as usual and staying in our comfort zones. Careerist priests will no doubt earn human praise and have some nice plaques and honors at the end of their careers, but they will not help many people become saints or, for that matter, ever become saints themselves.
We're Catholics. Whether we are priests or laity, we do not have careers. We have vocations. 

I would argue that the confession mentioned must be perfect if one is in mortal sin, but I digress....This is a very important view that we must see...especially here in Iowa, where our charism is becoming more and more missionary with the continual clustering.


  1. Did Pope Francis say this?! When? This is wonderful.

  2. Hi Lynne,

    No, His Holiness did not say this, but I do think that it conveys his sentiment. This was actually a statement made by a peer (who asked to remain nameless) in a conversation that we had regarding the Holy Father's actual comments on "careerism" in the priesthood.