February 1, 2010

What's My Problem?

The majority of the most challenging and unpleasant pastoral care decisions I make in my employment as parish priest derive from the fact that...

I care less about the attachment of your sentiments to this particular church building than I care about the attachment of your soul to the Lord and His Church, and I will always challenge the former if I fear you need to consider the latter.

Maybe I'm a rotten priest, and have been told as much, but that is my sense of my own responsibility as a steward of God's Mysteries.


Mandrivnyk said...

Father, if I were you, I would be rather more worried if you never received any criticism at all. Of what good, really, is a priest who doesn't care and never challenges his flock? It's easy enough to get that from the world.

Warren said...

It sounds to me like you care more about real charity, than false charity.

As the Holy Father recently said, in an address to the Roman Rota:

"Truth" .... "cannot be contrary to charity," ..."There must be no yielding to a "false charity,since this would not protect the true good ...".

Here he was speaking of the true good of "the spouses", to the roman rota, for those reading along who don't know who they are, they handle the highest level of appeals for things like declarations of nullity, at the top level, for the Holy See itself. He was urging them not to insert into their work a kind of false "kindness" that is contrary to truth, and to justice, which must therefore also, be counter to charity. I should think that in many pastoral situations, such a conflict between real charity, and false charity, must occur.

So one must choose whether to please God, or to please man. But in the end, one only serves one's fellow man well, when one chooses to please God alone. For God does not anywhere ever ask us to be "nice", but always asks us to be charitable, gentle, kind, and courageous.



Sarah said...

Did someone call you rotten?

I'm sure you'd be far more rotten for just letting someone have their own way, even if it makes them content (we're all rotten, after all!).

Matthew Ignatius said...

You should absolutely be more concerned with ones attachment to the Church, rather than to just Sacred Heart. After all, we are one body, united in and to Christ through the Eucharist. I think the mindset of most run-of-the-mill Catholics is very parochial, which is an attitude that will need to change as the Church continues to evolve and adapt to meet the challenges it faces in the modern world.

You're not a rotten priest... I think a rotten priest would be one who was solely parochial and who did not give those who God has given him to minister to a broader view of all of Christ's Church.


Hidden One said...

El problema no es suyo.

Brother Charles said...

Thanks, friends, for your the charity of your encouragement. You remind me of two quotes from pastors I've had along the way:

"You can be nice and give yourself a good feeling, or you can be charitable and give glory to God."

"This is not Burger King. You can't have it your way."

Qualis Rex said...

Fr Charles, I have unfortunately known many rotten priests. You are not one of them.

Keep fighting the good fight: ad Majorem Dei Gloriam.

Adoro said...

God bless you, Father, for caring more about souls than about...making people feel good.

I have a co-worker who struggles with this seeming dichotomy as she is very "mission" oriented to such a degree that she sometimes confuses true charity for "loosening the rules so that people won't walk away." She often forgets that Jesus let people walk away back then, too. The the gospels never say that THEY DIDN'T COME BACK!

I wonder if we can ever be convinced to have enough faith in God and His people to let go, do the right thing and trust HIM to lead them to Truth.

Our job is only to uphold it...(I say "ours" as I work in a church, but mean it also for a wider audience to contain ALL Catholics!).

People will ALWAYS have free will, and will always be free to walk away. Catering to their spoiled attitudes will not make them stay. If they DO stay, then they are holding on not to Christ, but to an effigy that should have been burned long ago.

I'm not sure if you realize it Father, but I think the laity need to do a much better job of ALLOWING our priests to care more for our souls than for our emotional comfort!


Because we can't do it on our own. We look to our spiritual Fathers for your leadership, but how can we expect you to always have the courage to BE that leader if we're always slicing your hamstrings?

And that's why I think we are in the boat we are in...but don't get me started. Please don't get me started.

Anonymous said...

I enthusiastically second the comment by Qualis Rex. Fr. Charles, you are a good priest and anyone who reads your blog, or experiences your homily or the reverent way you offer the Mass, readily knows. We are all praying for you!

Jeanne said...

The folks that say you should be more worried if you NEVER got any criticism are right. Only people without an opinion or position to support - those blank vanilla relativists - are nicely uncontroversial. Keep fighting. And I second the motion: if you see any of us teetering on the brink of hell, drag us back, even if it's kicking and screaming. We'll thank you later! It's like the parent that tells the child "No, you can't have that toy" and the child screams "I hate you!" Nope. Just hates the discipline!

for narnia said...

great post, Fr. C! and really something to consider. you're a great priest and thank you for the great care you have for the souls of those you minister to. you are right that "attachment to a particular church building" is not what it's about - it should be our souls attached to the Lord and His church, which is everywhere. maybe that's why i enjoy being involved in more than one parish - three at present. but, it's not even limited to the three parishes, either. we, all of God's people, are the church and we can serve the Lord anywhere - in any church, at home, at work, etc... in this "Year of Priests," the laity should really be thankful to the Priests who care for their souls, and, in return, we, the laity, should also care for the soul of the Priest. PEACE! ~tara t~