Posted by: Thomas Richard | June 26, 2009

What Then Are We To Do?

In a recent Zenit article, about the Pope’s Homily at Launch of Year for Priests, 6/25/09, he speaks pointedly of the crucial importance of priests in the life of the Church, for good or for ill. The Pope taught,

Indeed, if it is true that sinners, in contemplating him, must learn from him the necessary “sorrow for sins” that leads them back to the Father, it is even more so for holy ministers. How can we forget, in this regard, that nothing makes the Church, the Body of Christ, suffer more than the sins of her pastors, especially the sins of those who are transformed into “a thief and a robber” of the sheep (Jn 10: 1 ff.), or who deviates from the Church through their own private doctrines, or who ensnare the Church in sin and death?

Yes, the sins of every person in the Body of Christ makes the whole Body suffer! Yes, “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” (1Cor 12:26) But the priests and bishops, standing as they do “in persona Christi capitas” – in the person of Christ the head, for our sakes – when they fall, the whole Body is deeply wounded. When our priests and bishops fall into compromise with the world, into the three-fold lust of this world, then the Kingdom is betrayed, the Gospel is confused and the People of God are led astray to a land of barrenness and hunger. St. John exhorts us all (1 Jn 2:15-16)

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If any one loves the world, love for the Father is not in him.
For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, is not of the Father but is of the world.

The Church needs holiness; we all are called to holiness! How deeply afflicted we become, when we are led by men whose true vocation has been compromised and obscured by the desires of this world.

The Pope continued,

How is it possible not to remember with emotion that the gift of our priestly ministry flowed directly from this Heart? How can we forget that we priests were consecrated to serve humbly and authoritatively the common priesthood of the faithful?

Yes, our priests “were consecrated to serve humbly and authoritatively the common priesthood of the faithful”! It is a profound joy when such servant-hearts are found, and witnessed! How beautiful, when those who stand in the place of Christ do so bringing rightful honor to His Name and to His Church. How tragic it is, however, when those set over us, to shepherd and to guide us, do so as “hired men”, lording it over us, abusing their authority and despoiling the riches and gifts of the people. How our priests need the Heart of Christ! How we need holy priests and bishops!

What then are we to do?

What are we to do, when shepherded by men who have not the heart of the Shepherd? This is a huge topic, and a huge question – and a crucially important one. First, we must never succumb to the temptations in this situation that would only delight the evil one, and would lead to only more woundedness and ineffectiveness in the Church: we must hold tight to the true charity of Christ in His Sacred Heart. He loves all men, and we must love. We owe love to one another, in Him.

But secondly, we must find for ourselves the spiritual sustenance we need, if the clergy will not lead us to it. If they fail to teach the full treasure of the Faith of the Church, we must seek out trustworthy teachers for ourselves. We must seek, exactly, how to come into the “full, conscious and active participation in the Sacred Liturgy” that will open our hearts to the full measure of grace that Christ has for us in the sacraments. We must come to understand the deep beauty, the glory, of the truth of the Christian life: how to live the morality of the Gospel. And we must learn how to pray, to enter an authentic interior life of communion with God who is our Life. If they will not teach, we must nevertheless learn. We must become disciples. We must become disciples, and perhaps our example will help awaken and bring to sobriety others – even including those priests and bishops under whom many now languish and suffer.

Thomas


Responses

  1. Dear Thomas,

    Your title this morning, “What Then Are We To Do?” is an excellent one, for none of us can ignore the wounds being inflicted on the Body of Christ.

    In reading the full homily of Pope Benedict at Zenit.org, I was blessed by his entreaties to his brother priests and to us laity:

    “Dear brothers and sisters, let us pause together to contemplate the pierced Heart of the Crucified One…

    The essential nucleus of Christianity is expressed in the Heart of Jesus; in Christ the whole of the revolutionary newness of the Gospel was revealed and given to us: the Love that saves us and already makes us live in God’s eternity.

    The Evangelist John writes: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (3: 16). His divine Heart therefore calls to our hearts, inviting us to come out of ourselves, to abandon our human certainties to trust in him and, following his example, to make of ourselves a gift of love without reserve.”

    Even if we have not a holy priest to guide us in our parish or even in a whole diocese, Jesus the High Priest remains for us interceding before the Father. We must seek Him in His word and in prayer. If we remain in His word, He tells us that we will truly be His disciples. (Jn 8:31).

    Looking on Him Whose Heart is pierced for love of us, what can we not do in love?

  2. Hi Thomas,
    Thanks for your blog entry, some good points here.

    I think we owe it to our Church to support those pastors who correctly teach the fullness of the Faith. The days of being a parishioner at the church down the block are over, for me, anyway. Because I need to guard against the bitterness I feel when I see that the faithful are being compromised for an individual pastor’s agendas. It used to be that you could go into any Catholic church and know what that correct doctrine would be taught. Not so anymore.

    God has blessed us with a good Holy Father. I am pleased that he’s made this the year of priests. We all need to double our prayers for them, the good ones and the not so good ones.
    Pax Christi,
    Ann

  3. If we just go to Blessed Mother on behalf of her priests, she will turn the tide. If we pray in earnest her holy Rosary, there is nothing she won’t do for us and for Him. She is our answer in all times for all reasons. She is our mother and His mother, and she is The Church. The Mother of God is ever sustaining…our greatest resource if we but go to her and seek the holiness of priests. Pray the Rosary.

    Thanks so much for all your wonderful work in the Word.
    Ann Griffin

  4. Thomas – how true your words are! If only our Bishop would truly listen to Pope Bendict’s words and remind our priests of their responsibilities!

    And more, that our priests should remember their own ordinations and the graces given to them to spread God’s word.

    We have fewer priests to do Christ’s work, and so many distractions to keep them from focusing on their principal tasks. Your words remind us that we need to encourage our priests, and hold them accountable for their actions and inactions.

    Thanks for your inspiration
    Suzanne

  5. Thank you for these comments!

    Deborah, that we must – must – remain in the Sacred Heart of Jesus, our High Priest, as we try to truly love our priests with the saving and sanctifying love of God.

    Ann A., that we ought to support those holy priests who do truly live the priesthood among us! These priests need help and support in their parishes, but those other priests who stay in “maintenance mode” rather than risk devotion to the “mission” of Christ – how can we help them, except to pray for them?

    Ann Griffin, that our mother Mary is our powerful advocate in this prayer. She, mother of the High Priest, knows how to pray for all the sons of the Church. And maybe especially she knows how to pray for those whose hearts and vocation have become distracted from the mission of her Son.

    Suzanne, that we need to encourage and hold accountable, our priests. I wonder – if priests began to hear from parishioners that we do see what they are doing, but also what is not being done in our parishes!

    We need to pray, and we need to speak.

    Much to think about…..

    Thomas


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