Tuesday, May 28, 2013

THIS POPE DOESN'T LIKE PRIESTS AND BISHOPS MAKING THE CHURCH THEIR CAREER! YIKES!


This child aspiring for a career in the papacy should be excommunicated! :)

One of the many emerging themes of Pope Francis' pontificate is his criticism of priests and bishops who make the Church a career. I am not entirely clear what this means, but I suspect it means when one sees the priesthood or becoming a bishop as a job rather than as a ministry and what one does rather than who one is as more important.

In fact, since Vatican II for both clergy and religious, the "job description" of being either has become more worldly just as our dress has become more worldly and our lifestyle has become more worldly.

Professionalism, good pay, nice living quarters, comfortable cars and continuing education and more degrees to keep up with the Jone's is part and parcel of the post-Vatican II experience of being a member of the clergy or a religious. (Not all of course).

Perhaps you have some idea of what the Holy Father means when he rails against careerism in the Church.

We get some hints from this morning's homily of the Holy Father at the chapel of his residence at the Vatican Motel 6:

Following Jesus ‘does not mean more power’, it is not a ‘career’ because His way is that of the Cross.

What is our reward in following you? Pope Francis began with the question Peter puts to Jesus. A question, he said, which in the end concerns the life of every Christian. Jesus says that those who follow Him will have "many good things" but "with persecution." The path of the Lord, he continued, "is a road of humility, a road that ends in the Cross." That is why, he added, "there will always be difficulties," "persecution." There will always be, "because He travelled this road before" us. The Pope warned that "when a Christian has no difficulties in life – when everything is fine, everything is beautiful - something is wrong." It leads us to think that he or she is "a great friend of the spirit of the world, of worldliness." The Pope noted this "is a temptation particular to Christians":

The Pope reiterated that "many Christians, tempted by the spirit of the world, think that following Jesus is good because it can become a career, they can get ahead." But this "is not the spirit".
.

I think the following quote of the Holy Father's homily hits the nail on the head:

"Think of Mother Teresa: what does the spirit of the world say of Mother Teresa? 'Ah, Blessed Teresa is a beautiful woman, she did a lot of good things for others ...'. The spirit of the world never says that the Blessed Teresa spent, every day, many hours, in adoration ... Never! It reduces Christian activity to doing social good. As if Christian life was a gloss, a veneer of Christianity. The proclamation of Jesus is not a veneer: the proclamation of Jesus goes straight to the bones, heart, goes deep within and change us. And the spirit of the world does not tolerate it, will not tolerate it, and therefore, there is persecution. "

My final comments: Not making Christianity a career, not allowing the devil to rule one's life and not being worldly seem to be the major themes of Pope Francis. One one level he appears more conservative than Pope Benedict and more willing to back up his words with action and in a decisive way.

Where he parts ways with his predecessor is liturgically, but not entirely. Liturgy is not going to be the focus of his papacy, reform of people is, meaning reform of the clergy, the religious and the laity calling all of us to the essentials of Catholic life and spirituality which leads to prayer and liturgy as its foundation.

He parts from the more flamboyant excesses in liturgical wear and accoutrements. He gives Holy Communion to deacons who are kneeling and laity, like the first communicants on Sunday, while they stand.

Let's just say that the liturgy wars are not on his agenda nor what was touted as reform of the reform in continuity.

Where are we going? Where is Pope Francis leading us? To reform of the person so that we follow Jesus, see Him as central and pick up our cross and follow Jesus where He leads us without stopping where we like as Jesus' moves on.

Our culture and our Church influenced by the worldly (i.e. Satan) is inspired by the superficial and looking good. So we see breast augmentation, face lifts, botox injections and fat lips on women that make them look like they had a terrible bee sting there.

We see people becoming plastic like the plastic reality shows they watch on TV. As always, celebrity, television and our celebrity culture exert more influence on who we are and what we want to be than Jesus and His way of the Cross.






67 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bravo for Pope Francis and bravo for your article!

Gene said...

The corollary: If you do not believe the articles of the Creed, get the Hell out...literally!

ytc said...

I'd say it's sort of silly for every Pope to undo half of what his Predecessor did and then "focus" on other things. If a Pope doesn't want to focus on certain things, fine, okay. But if Francis really doesn't want to focus on liturgy, then why is he doing just that? Undoing what his Predecessor did is focusing on the liturgy just as much as his Predecessor did, albeit in a different way.

If he doesn't want to focus on liturgy, great. But he is focusing on liturgy. More if it ain't broke don't fix it.

Andy Milam said...

I think that I agree with the Holy Father on this one.

I have never understood the mentality of forgoing Holy Mass because of a "day off." For as long as I've been involved intimately with Holy Mother Church and her ministers (this includes my days in seminary), the idea of a day off for priests has been repugnant.

Priests go into the life knowing that they are not in it for themselves, but rather they are in it to serve the God, the Church, and the faithful. I have always been and will continue to be critical of those priests who view their own well being over that of the parish to which they are assigned.

An example: When the pastor of my parents parish was newly installed, he took a week off almost as soon as he arrived (apparently the move was too strenuous), during the week he was gone there was a death in the parish, yet the good Father was nowhere to be found. He didn't leave a forwarding set of instructions and to this day does not carry a cell phone. The parish secretary was in a panic trying to find Father and eventually called the previous pastor who moved 3 hours away to come back and administer the Sacraments and funeral.

I was formed to understand that the life of a priest is no longer his own when he is ordained. Mass should not be skipped, the parish family should not be neglected, and the onus is on him to be available to the faithful for the Sacraments.

My formation came at the hands of a priest with whom I lived for a number of years.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

You're making feel guilty about my 3 month sabbatical in Rome in the Fall! Not to mention my day off today!

John said...

It worries me a lot that our Pope is acting more like a modern day politician than a holy man on a mission.We are treated to clever gestures and words aimed to tickle the sentimental bones instead of trying to return to basics.

Let us remeber, the way we pray is the way we believe, and the way we believe is the way we live.

The liturgy is our foremost prayer. To reduce it to its present state of confusion was a dream of dissenters of every age.

Removing emphasis from reforming the reform is playing into the hands of modernists who are no friends of the Church or its head: Jesus Christ. Should the present trend continue we are in for disunity.

The traditionalists cannot follow, the liberal types (nuns on the bus, pray-tell type folks) will not follow. The lukewarm? Well, actually, if one remembers what Jesus said about them, they are not even wanted.

Pater Ignotus said...

Andy - In seminary we were encouraged to take a day off each week and to take our full (30 days) vacation each year. The idea that a priest never gets any time off is what is repugnant.

It is a rare individual - and not always a healthy individual - who does not need, physically, mentally, and spiritually, some time on his own once in a while. Even Jesus went way at time to be on his own, to recharge.

We are not in the priesthood for ourselves, but taking time off is as much for the benefit of the people we serve as for ourselves.

Good Father, enjoy your day off AND your sabbatical. I certainly enjoyed mine back in 2004.

Andy Milam said...

Fr. McDonald,

If your sabbatical is to further your education and has been approved by the Ordinary, it is not for us to judge.

However, if it is because you're "burned out on parish life," didn't you know that going into the life?

Not a judgment, but rather and observation and a question.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I'll be 60 in Dec and our diocese allows for a sabbatical after 7 years and 2 in a life time. This is my first after more than 33 years of ordination. I plan, God willing, to retire from active ministry not being a priest at 70.

rcg said...

ytc and John, and don't see this that way. This closes the circuit on the previous 'Good Deeds Gets You Into Heaven' topic. As far as the liturgy goes: the accoutrements don't change the Liturgy, per se, and he has actually gone a couple very significant steps forward when he refuses to give communion to people he feels are trying to manipulate the situation. He has the humility to admit he cannot know their hearts (although he won't deny seeing what they actually do), and understands the great sin those people commit knowingly taking communion in a state of mortal sin.

Liturgy is not a contest, neither are the vestments. If Pope Francis has retained the Liturgical practices of Pope Benedict, he has eschewed the pomp to large extent out of humility and example. Pope Benedict understood the over the top nature of the vestments to be a symbol of the leader: the standard appears on the battlefield, the prince is in his finery and he stands with his people as the visible symbol of hope and as First Target. I think this homily, or at least the theme, may have been one of the first he wrote as Pope and he has been working up to it ever since. This is not going to be the last time we hear this theme.

Time Off: when done properly it is part of, not instead of, the mission. Rested, fed, healthy and focused on the task; when you pace yourself properly you can rest while waiting for the others to catch up.

Pater Ignotus said...

Andy - A sabbatical is for continuing education AND for refreshment and relaxation. The sabbatical I took in 2004 had "classes" in the mornings only. We had afternoons and weekends off, to do as we pleased.

Priests do not come out of a cookie cutter. We are as different as any group in any vocation or career. Not everyone has the ability to work without days off or vacation.

Yes, we knew what we were getting into, but we knew that we would have days off and vacations, that sabbaticals were a possibility.

Andy Milam said...

Fr. McD,

As I said, not a judgment. It isn't my place to determine what your lifestyle is or is not. I was making a general statement about the priesthood in the post-conciliar age.

Fr. Kavanaugh,

You say, "It is a rare individual - and not always a healthy individual - who does not need, physically, mentally, and spiritually, some time on his own once in a while."

How many people do you live with in the rectory again? I am sure that you get plenty of time alone. I don't buy it. BTW, that priest who formed me, was in his 70s when he and I became close and there were no less than 4 priests and three seminarians/prospects living the rectory with him at most times.

Your argument is pretty watery....

qwikness said...

It surprises me that there is no real retirement plan for priests. I have heard of some very sad situations for retired priests.
I have heard of Opus Bono Sacerdotii
http://www.opusbono.org that helps in these situations.
Do candidates to the priesthood look at such benefits when determining their vocation?

Pater Ignotus said...

Andy - I have lived in rectories with 4, 3, 2, and 1 priest. In all cases, priests took days off and took vacation, as the Code of Canon Law, no less, allows.

I know of no priest who never takes a day off and of no priest who never takes vacation.

Andy Milam said...

Fr. Kavanaugh,

I can introduce you to a few who do not take a day off. Certainly, they take time for themselves, but that isn't the same thing.

Regardless, as with Fr. McD, I am not making a judgment of your personal lifestyle, but rather I am voicing a perception of today's priesthood.

Incidentally, my mentor celebrated Mass for his parish every day he was in the parish from 1969 until 2001 when he was "forced" into retirement. Certainly, there were times when he was not in the parish due to his duties as a priest and world renowned choral director, but there was never day during his pastorate which either he or his curate didn't celebrate Holy Mass for the parish. Furthermore, his "vacations" were never his own. His "vacations" were either pilgrimages or conferences in which he worked in some form or another.

He never took a sabbatical in his 63 years as a priest.

I know of several priests like this, not just my mentor.

AMDG+

Pater Ignotus said...

Qwik - In this diocese, we are strongly encouraged to save for retirement as one of a three pronged approach. We can expect Social Security and a monthly check from the retirement fund that all the parishes pay for our support. My bro-in-law helped me, after I was ordained, to begin investing in a no-load mutual fund which I have continued lo these many years.

Some diocese have a retirement "facility" - we do not. Our retirees live 1) in a rectory or 2) in their own private home. In a few cases priests with serious medical problems have lived their last years in nursing homes.

Andy - Down time isn't necessarily "alone" time. I have a brother and sisters, nieces and nephews, and friends that I like to spend time with on my days off or on vacation.

Pater Ignotus said...

Andy - And if every priest were your mentor, then, I suppose, no days off or vacations would be taken by priests. But, we're not.
Canon 465 stipulates a month of vacation for pastors and priests - and rightly so. If they choose to vacation with parishioners, fine. If they choose to spend a month baking on a beach in Aruba, that, too, is fine.

There are only a handful of "curates" in this diocese, so there are precious few locations where there will never be a day when mass is celebrated for the parish.

In this diocese there are also dozens of missions where no priest is in residence. I served a parish with a mission for 10 years and the round trip to/from that location was 38 miles on a very heavily travelled highway. There are priests in this country who have parishes and missions that are separated by 50 or 100 or 150 miles. Daily mass for the parish? I think not.

You experience is not, by far, the norm for parish life in these United States.

Marc said...

Thirty days vacation per year is ridiculous.

Gene said...

I do believe Priests need time off to themselves. Everyone needs time to reflect, relax and, yes, have fun. I believe it replenishes the spirit and even gives the Priest new insights into ministry and pastoral care when they can "back off" and see things from a distance for a while. Of course, anything can be abused.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Marc, don't hate me because I have beautiful benefits :)

Marc said...

Oh, I'm not hating, I'm jealous!

Anonymous 2 said...

The vocation of the priesthood is so incredibly important to the entire world, and so demanding, that I do not begrudge priests a day off a week or having 30 days vacation a year.

And Marc: You should be jealous. Perhaps you (and so many others) should also say “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.” I believe it is a scandal that the average vacation time (not even necessarily paid) in the United States is two weeks. Compare that with Europe (including Great Britain) – oh sorry, I forgot: they’re all socialists. Here is a current article discussing the matter and giving comparative figures:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/united-states-lags-europe-on-paid-vacation-time/2013/05/27/5cc98964-c4b1-11e2-914f-a7aba60512a7_story.html

And I say this as someone who in recent years probably does not even take two weeks’ vacation each year (or both days at weekends) and for whom the “long academic holiday” in the summer means that I can work 40 hours a week (on research and writing projects and preparation of new courses or new material) instead of 60-65 hours per week during the academic year. But I love what I do and am able to choose how much I work. So many people do not and cannot. Don’t they deserve a decent opportunity to recharge their batteries (I’m not talking about priests here who need to recharge for different reasons)?

As one of my “economic heroes,” the maverick and very controversial (he was a “bit of a lad” in his personal life, as the British say) corporate raider Sir James Goldsmith famously said in his 1993 book “The Trap”: "The economy is a tool to serve us. It is not a demi-god to be served by society." And for those who do not know Sir Jimmy Goldsmith, who died in 1997, he was the inspiration for Sir Lawrence Wildman, Gordon Gekko’s British antagonist in “Wall Street.” And yet this (in many ways) very conservative man could make such statements as the one I just quoted, or this:

"We have convinced ourselves that there exists only one valid economic and social model: our own. By attempting to impose it universally, we have exported to almost every corner of the world our diseases: crime, drugs, alcoholism, family breakdown, civil disorder in urban slums, accelerated abuse of the environment and all the other problems that we experience daily."

Despite such statements, “The Trap” cannot be ideologically labeled (thank goodness). As one reviewer describes the book “It's neither conservative nor liberal, but deeply human. Or, perhaps best said, it transcends political labels -- which makes it all the more vital and important.” See http://www.buzzflash.com/hartmann/05/10/har05010.html.

One might almost say, it is in many ways a very Catholic book.

Andy Milam said...

@ Fr. Kavanaugh;

"Andy - And if every priest were your mentor, then, I suppose, no days off or vacations would be taken by priests. But, we're not."

Again, this is not an indictment against your personal lifestyle. Yet you continue to take it as such. I am simply responding to your assertion that you know of no priests who do not take days off. I know of more than a few (and I'm just a piddly layman).

"Canon 465 stipulates a month of vacation for pastors and priests - and rightly so. If they choose to vacation with parishioners, fine. If they choose to spend a month baking on a beach in Aruba, that, too, is fine."

Nobody is questioning that. I'm simply forwarding the idea that a priest's life is not his own. I also am lauding those priests who choose to put their vocation above their job. Which is kinda the point of this thread, and the message of Pope Francisci.

"There are only a handful of "curates" in this diocese, so there are precious few locations where there will never be a day when mass is celebrated for the parish."

What is the reasoning for putting curate in quotes? It is still a valid term, if not a little traditional. If there are a precious few locations, then perhaps it is time for you and your brother priests to start promoting vocations more vigorously. That is part of your vocation, not just one priest and his assistant at the chancery. (A good place to start is by eliminating altar girls and mentoring your altar boys, just sayin'....)

"In this diocese there are also dozens of missions where no priest is in residence. I served a parish with a mission for 10 years and the round trip to/from that location was 38 miles on a very heavily travelled highway. There are priests in this country who have parishes and missions that are separated by 50 or 100 or 150 miles. Daily mass for the parish? I think not."

I live in rural Iowa. I am very well aware of clustering. I also am very well aware of what the protocols for mission churches are going back to the beginning of the Church in America. That is a hobby of mine, to study Catholic history in America. I am distant cousin of Archbishop Carroll.

"You experience is not, by far, the norm for parish life in these United States."

Thankfully, that is the case. I choose to live a more traditional Catholic life and I have (on purpose) insulated myself from much of the nonsense which exists. This hasn't always been the case (my early college years were wrought with liberalism, on one front).

I still don't buy your bill of goods, Father.

An Observant Sinner said...

Savannah and similar dioceses 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 Pater Ignotus 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.

Andy Milam said...

@ An Observant Sinner:

I'm stealing that....just so you know. You can see a copy on my blog...

www.traddyiniowa.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

Observant Sinner, I'm also stealing that!! Excellent reflection on our vocation as Catholics.

Pater Ignotus said...

Andy - You seem to have a problem with simple language, as when you took me to task for calling a priest an "actor." In that conversation, when I pointed out that your friend Fr. Z used the same term, well, that was OK with you...

You said, " ...the idea of a day off for priests has been repugnant." So, yes, you are judging any priest who does not agree that the idea of a day off is repugnant.

Now, if the IDEA of a day off is repugnant, then those of us who, heaven forbid, actually take a day off must be doubly repugnant.

Yes, you judge us.

I have a vocation to the priesthood. I do not have a vocation to work without a day off and/or a vacation now and again. The Church does not expect this, the congregation does not expect this, and I would say God hisself does not expect this. The Church recognizes this, as noted in my ref. to Canon 465.

While we promote vocations, we STILL have only a handful of "curates" which means that, from time to time, parishes will be without daily mass.

Carol H. said...

Observant Sinner, beautifully put!

Pater Ignotus said...

AOS - The missionary charism belongs as much to the lay person as to the priest.

The fundamental error I find in your reflection is that it presents a far too "Black and White" scenario. Not everything - very little, in fact - in this life is necessarily a "Zero Sum" game.

A priest can be well-regarded AND be a strong leader. A priest can be popular AND engage in respectful outreach to others. A priest can have close friends in the parish AND be a strong advocate for justice.

And I would suggest that not all of the priests who are vilified are innocent of wrong actions.

Andy Milam said...

Fr. Kavanaugh,

Clearly, you're not over the fact that you were wrong. I will pray that you find clarity in that matter. I digress...

No, I am not judging any priest, but rather I am commenting on an idea, which I do have the right to do. A comment may be a judgment, but it also may not. In this case, it is not a judgment, because there was no charge leveled.

The idea is still repugnant, btw. No, I do not judge you or any other priest, I comment on an idea that a day off is a necessity. It is not. The priesthood is not a job, it is a life. One cannot, nor should he take a day off from his life. The celebration of Holy Mass should be as a priest breathes, part of his daily life, without exception. For it is that which sustains his priesthood.

I do not doubt that you have a vocation to the priesthood. The Church expects you to pastor your flock. Since you know the mind of God Himself, could you please ask Him Who Is when I will be receiving that lottery check? I asked Him for it several years ago. Thanks.

With regard to Can. 465, I will offer this bit. That is just a legality. But legality can be imprudent. It is legal to run a yellow light, but is it prudent to do so? What Canon does that correspond to in the 1917 CIC, btw? Just a point of reference....

How many ordinations have you had from Holy Spirit Parish, Father? I would like to add them to my list of prayers for priests. Thanks.

Pater Ignotus said...

Andy - You can't say that an "idea" is repugnant and then say that you are not judging those who 1) share the idea or 2) put the idea into practice.

That would be the same as saying "I think the idea of abortion is repugnant but I do not find the act of abortion repugnant."

You judge those of us who take a day off.

You are free to believe that a priest is wrong - another judgment - for not celebrating mass every day. I would disagree with you on this, as you can imagine.

The 1917 CIC is not longer in force and is, therefore, not germane.

Marc said...

Since the Second Vatican Council, there has been an emphasis on the vocation of the laity. Therefore, in accordance with all that our priests have argued above, I suggest the following:

All married lay people should only have to fulfill their obligations as such for 11 months out of the year and only 6 days per week. And, every 7 years, but not more than twice during the marriage, they are allowed to set aside their vocation to the married state for up to 6 months, so long as they attend classes during the mornings five days per week during the bulk of that period.

Yep. That doesn't sound repugnant to the concept of vocation at all...

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Marc, I guess that I was misinformed when they told me celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom would free me from the responsibilities of the world and its careers and from the grave responsibilities of being a husband and father to dedicate myself to the Church and to allow the Church to form me as a celibate priest--not to do more work, as in the careerist sense of things, but to be with the Lord, to pray more, to take sabbaticals to learn more and to take days off for spiritual refreshment. This is celibacy which the world does not understand and very few Catholics also, like you.
It isn't about more time to do more work as the work-a-holic would do it, it is about being with the Lord and time with him, what many would call a waste of time!

Marc said...

"This is celibacy which the world does not understand and very few Catholics also, like you."

What does this mean?

Henry said...

This thread looks so tedious that I'm glad I'm coming in so late.

But couldn't we agree that a priest is a priest 24/7/365, while that it's surely healthy from him to have time off--a weekly day or annual vacation--and free of the beck and call of parish routine and duties. Of course, a dedicated priest surely will still celebrate Holy Mass every such day, wherever he is, whether hiding in the rectory or camping in the mountains.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Marc both you and Andy are judging the celibate priest by the Protestant work ethic. Being a priest should allow me to live more like a monk and to take time away to remain close to the Lord. This is not true of the careerist or the husband or the wife whose primary responsibility is to serve Christ in each other and their family. However, in the case of real need, a husband or a wife could go off for an extended time for treatment for work-a-holism or chemical dependency or just burned out.

Marc said...

Well, for my part, I'm not judging anyone...

I was posting something I thought of that was funny because it was so sarcastic.

I can't believe you, Father, of all people, missed the sarcasm! Maybe you do need a sabbatical!

Pater Ignotus said...

It is a false notion that a priest is only a priest if he celebrates mass 365 days a year. This is an erroneous understanding of priesthood.

It is also false to suggest that a priest is "setting aside" his priesthood by taking a day off, a vacation, or a sabbatical. He remains fully a priest whether he is at the altar, at the Broadway play, at the midway point of walking El Camino in Spain, or sipping drinks with little umbrellas on them at poolside in Honolulu.

There is also a false impression that a priest is obligated to celebrate mass every day. This, also, is incorrect.

Fr. McDonald - I would suggest that if you want to live more like a monk you should move to a monastery. The vocation to diocesan priesthood is distinct in many ways from the call to a monastic way of life.

An Observant Sinner said...

Pater Ignotus:

I do not disagree with you and I did not necessarily mean to paint the positions of priests and laity into an "either/or" or "black/white" choice. Unfortunately, in many cases, that is how parish life seems to be shaping up in modern America.

I agree that priests can indeed confront the culture and be popular. However, I have not seen many who do. And we should mention that his popularity for taking a stand will only be in some circles. He will also make enemies and in the current social climate, it is very likely that those enemies can easily be the "respectable" establishment of "respected" parishioners whom the priest dare not offend.

If I seem to be speaking in generalities and stereotypes, perhaps it is so. But generalities and stereotypes are almost always based on reality.

Tim LaHaye said...

Pater I:

I think we need to be clear that Fr. Mac did not say he wanted to live as a monk, but "more like a monk". I think every Catholic should have a contemplative side and a priest, of all people (as if I needed to tell you) should certainly have his alone time to re-charge. Yes, the diocesan priesthood is indeed different than the monastic priesthood or the priesthood of various orders, but the elimination of all boundaries has cost us dearly in scandals.

Andy Milam said...

Father McD:

"Marc both you and Andy are judging the celibate priest by the Protestant work ethic."

I beg your pardon. I most certainly am not. I am not judging you at all. That notwithstanding, I'm not speaking about celibacy, but rather I am speaking about a priest's vocation being more than a job. It is a lifestyle or better yet, it is a life.

"Being a priest should allow me to live more like a monk and to take time away to remain close to the Lord."

Yes, Father, that is correct. It should. The first end of the priest is to pray. And that is the first expectation that we, the laity, should have of any priest. By that expectation, it is not something that should be compromised, for any reason.

"This is not true of the careerist or the husband or the wife whose primary responsibility is to serve Christ in each other and their family."

Also true, the spouse should dedicate his life to his spouse so that he might be of the greatest service to her in the Kingdom of God. That is the fulfillment of the vocation of marriage.

"However, in the case of real need, a husband or a wife could go off for an extended time for treatment for work-a-holism or chemical dependency or just burned out."

Yes, I suppose, but that certainly isn't ideal, now is it Father? And it certainly puts undue and unneeded strain on the vocation, correct? Correct. That being said, I don't think that any priest would advocate a separation in the Sacrament of marriage because one is "burned out."

My point remains, the vocation of a priest is to be of service to his parish. This includes firstly, to pray for and with his flock, mainly by the administration of the Sacraments and the recitation of the Office. The vocation of a priest is not to take a day off because he feels fatigued or because Jim down the street doesn't work on Saturdays and Sundays.

Henry said...

I said above that "a dedicated priest surely will still celebrate Holy Mass every such day," as does (I believe) every priest whom I personally know and regard as "dedicated" to his priesthood.

But I wonder whether a priest's obligation to say his office daily has any provision for "days off" or vacations.

Andy Milam said...

Fr. Kavanaugh;

"It is a false notion that a priest is only a priest if he celebrates mass 365 days a year. This is an erroneous understanding of priesthood."

Sigh....thank you for yet again taking things to their logical absurdity. You are correct that it is a false notion, but nobody was forwarding THAT particular notion, just you.

What is being forwarded is that it is the duty of the priest to offer Holy Mass for his flock when he is able. A day off does not excuse a priest from this. It is a liberty which has been tolerated for far too long, IMHO. According to the stance you suppose to be correct, it is acceptable for the faithful to be deprived of the Sacrament when it is fully within the priest's ability to offer it. Is that where you're going with this argument?

"There is also a false impression that a priest is obligated to celebrate mass every day."

Again, you are the only one who has said this. The assertion which is put forth is that it is the duty of the priest to offer Holy Mass for his flock. They have a right to Holy Mass and a day off does not excuse that. This has nothing to do with the obligation or lack thereof for a priest to celebrate daily Mass.

It is clear that this isn't the case. An example is that of Bl Pope Pius IX's secretary who celebrated Holy Mass once a year (on Easter), because his duty was to be available to His Holiness and that he assisted at the altar of His Holiness daily.

Your attempts at straw men are pathetic, Father.

Pater Ignotus said...

Andy - Who, other than the Andy-gisterium, says that "it is the duty of the priest to offer Holy Mass for his flock when he is able"?

No one has a "right" to mass. The mass is a gift to us, given freely by God for our salvation. And you cannot, with any sense of reality, contend that if the people have a right to mass then if the pastor, then, does not have an obligation to provide that to which they have a right? And priests are not under any obligation to offer mass each day.

One person's rights impose an obligation on others. If we have the right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of happiness, guess what? There is an OBLIGATION imposed on others not to take these away. If there is a right to have daily mass, guess what? There is an obligation imposed on a priest to provide such daily.

No straw man here - only your inability to understand reason.

Marc said...

"No one has a 'right' to mass."

Canon Law disagrees with you (specifically Canons 213 and 843 s 1). The laity have a right to the Sacraments. Lumen Gentium also addresses this point.

Setting aside the law, which is admittedly a bit murky here despite my citations above, there is a pastoral and practical issue here: What of those who die without the Sacraments because the priest is off on holiday?

Pater Ignotus said...

Can. 213 "The Christian faithful have the right to receive assistance from the sacred pastors out of the spiritual goods of the Church, especially the word of God and the sacraments."

Nothing is mentioned here about DAILY mass. The discussion here is about DAILY mass, not sacraments, including mass, in general.

Can. 843 §1. Sacred ministers cannot deny the sacraments to those who seek them at appropriate times, are properly disposed, and are not prohibited by law from receiving them.

NOTE: "At appropriate times"
Cross reference Can. 533/2 "§2 "Unless there is a grave reason to the contrary, the parish priest may each year be absent on holiday from his parish for a period not exceeding one month, continuous or otherwise."

Now how do you imagine a priest may be absent from his parish for up to a month while, at the same time, celebrating mass in the parish every day? The Code does not self-contradict nor is it murky.

The obligation to die in a state of grace is on the individual, not on the priest.



Marc said...

It is murky because, even if you were on vacation, if someone approached you to receive the Sacrament of Confession, the Canons imply you should hear that person's confession. Yet, as we have now both pointed out, there are competing canons. Hence, the murkiness.

I recall someone saying, "Not everything - very little, in fact - in this life is necessarily a 'Zero Sum' game."

I won't further address your last quip because it is, in fact, utterly repugnant to me.

Andy Milam said...

Fr. Kavanaugh;

"Nothing is mentioned here about DAILY mass. The discussion here is about DAILY mass, not sacraments, including mass, in general."

If a priest does not celebrate Holy Mass for the faithful, does the faithful have access to the Sacrament of the Eucharist?

If the faithful do not have access to the Sacrament of the Eucharist, are they being denied something which is their right?

What is considered appropriate when there is a resident pastor and/or a priest who can regularly offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass? Yearly? Monthly? Weekly? Daily? Common sense would dictate daily. While there is no formal interdict on the priest if he does not celebrate Holy Mass daily, it certainly is at least going against the spirit (if not the letter) of Can. 843 §1.

Sadly Fr. Kavanaugh, if a priest/pastor purposely forgoing Holy Mass in favor of a "day off" it would seem that he is in violation of Can. 843 §1.

Speaking to 533 §2, it would most certainly seem that if a pastor does NOT have a curate to act in his stead, then being away from the parish for an extended period of time is a matter of gravity.

And since, according to your earlier postings about curates and their standing in the Church in America that "from time to time" which I can only assume you to mean a month at a time based upon your conversation today, isn't a serious matter in your view, but rather your right; as a priest and a man; or is that a man and a priest? Which comes first in your Sartrian world?

rcg said...

However awkwardly the point is made, i do understand, I think, PI's point. The person being saved has to grip the hand that is offered. However, like other callings, policeman, doctor, fireman, soldier, there is an obligation to go in an informed manner.

This is exactly the same dilemma productive people in more mundane walks of life face when confronted with Social Justice. If your pockets are emptied at every opportunity you will not be ready for the more demanding requirements. When you are the business of helping, in whatever manner, you have the responsibility to become expert at providing the help and control how your help is consumed or you will let other people waste, even if unintentionally, what the next person needs.

Anonymous 2 said...

I have only this evening seen the amazing continuation of this thread and its very academic discussion (ironic that) about the “cushy” life that priests like Father McDonald are supposed to have nowadays, what with one day off a week, 30 days vacation a year, and two sabbaticals in their lifetime. Now I don’t pretend to understand what is “really” going on here, and I don’t know who is, or is not, judging whom or why. But I do know that Father McDonald wrote in our parish bulletin this past week regarding his sabbatical:

“Priests are entitled to a sabbatical after 7 years of ordination and can have two in our lifetime. This will be my first, and I presume my only one. I must say I am in need of having my batteries recharged. Turning 60 this year and with my mom’s death this past October and the fact that since November we have had over 30 deaths in the parish, not to mention the deaths of your family members from elsewhere, I feel it is time for me to get renewed on mind and spirit!”

I don’t wish to embarrass him with this post, but I am inclined to say: “Please, have a heart and give the man a break.”

Gene said...

"The obligation to die in a State of Grace is on the individual, not on the Priest....." I do have trouble with that comment...it is dismissive, as being said with a shrug of the shoulders, and cynical. So, you just throw it out there at Mass and the Devil take the hindmost...interesting take on "feed my sheep...."

Pater Ignotus said...

Marc - If you are really concerned about dying without the sacraments, you will never go camping in the wilderness, never take a flight over any ocean, never drive 600 miles through the western United States, or never get on a cruise ship that is not staffed with a Catholic priest.

You also would prohibit priests from attending ordinations, funerals of brother priests or the parents of priests, annual retreats, or any continuing education program that takes the priest away from his assigned parish.

So dying without the sacraments is clearly not what you are concerned about.

If, when I was on vacation, someone approached me and asked me to hear their confession, I would, most likely, do so. In 28 years of being a priest, this has never happened.

Andy - No priest violates the letter or the spirit of Canon Law by not celebrating mass daily because there is no obligation to celebrate mass daily.

I don't agree that not having a curate is a "grave reason" that would deny a priest a day off or a vacation. Neither do the trained commentators on Canon Law.

And I cannot separate my humanity from my priesthood. It is not ONE or the OTHER. A basic understanding of the mystery of the Incarnation would enable you to understand this.

And how can you find the IDEA abortion REPUGNANT but not judge the ACT of abortion REPUGNANT?

Andy Milam said...

Fr. Kavanaugh;

"And how can you find the IDEA abortion REPUGNANT but not judge the ACT of abortion REPUGNANT?"

They both are. I have never said that they aren't. You keep bringing this little ditty up. Abortion under all circumstances is wrong, but then again with that we're talking about doctrine and dogma.

With my assertion about Holy Mass and the laxity by which it is abandoned in today's world is a theological opinion.

THERE IS A BIG DIFFERENCE!!! They are not even in the same galaxy, let alone the same realm of discussion.

Please stop poisioning the well. That is a fallacious argument your make and one which requires no further comment.

Also the reason why I claim no judgment (a point you continually miss) is because this idea that I'm forwarding is opinion. I don't hold it against any priest that he takes a day off, but rather I find it to be repugnant that a priest would rather take a day off than celebrate Holy Mass.

Marc said...

Fr. Kavanaugh - I go to confession before traveling because I am concerned about dying without the Sacraments (because I believe in hell and all that).

And I'm going to take a shot in the dark that you're not wearing clerics whilst on vacation, so no one would know you're a priest whom they could approach for confession...

Andy Milam said...

Fr. Kavanaugh;

If I may be so bold; you ask Marc, "If you are really concerned about dying without the sacraments, you will never go camping in the wilderness, never take a flight over any ocean, never drive 600 miles through the western United States, or never get on a cruise ship that is not staffed with a Catholic priest."

If I know that I am going to be without the Sacraments for an extended period, which btw is very rare in today's world, I do and have done a couple of things....

1. I make a good confession.
2. I get dispensation from my pastor to be away from the sacraments (I have been denied that once, btw).

Considering I've been to Rome on 5 separate occasions, a trans-oceanic flight doesn't fit your criteria, but I made a good confession anyhow and I was able to assist at Mass before I went and soon after I landed.

"You also would prohibit priests from attending ordinations, funerals of brother priests or the parents of priests, annual retreats, or any continuing education program that takes the priest away from his assigned parish."

Why do you insist upon making these scenarios personal? It baffles me. However, I'd like to respond to this one as well. My mentor missed a good many priestly funerals due to his duties. He missed a good many retreats, but even for the required ones, he would still say daily Mass before going. On the Saturdays of Ordinations, he would also say his daily Mass prior to leaving for the Ordination. (Interesting to note, my mentor rarely, if ever concelebrated. He was that priest who sat in choir, you know cassock and surplice. Nobody ever said a word to him, including his Archbishop.)

My mentor simply understood and supported the principle that Holy Mass should not be abandoned because there were other factors in his life, which demanded his time. That is how he pastored his parish. Apparently it worked because he was pastor there 32 years.


rcg said...

Gene and Marc, I reluctantly find myself on PI's side here. I think you are talking about different things. We know Grace is offered and we must accept. It is known to Catholics and they must accept it with a little seeking. In this part of the world we have so many Catholic parishes people will 'priest shop' parishes for someone they like. People will avoid certain Mass times for the priest they like. I am obligated to attend Mass and will go to a clown Mass (shudder) if it is valid to fulfill my obligation. I do not think either PI or FrAJM is taking the day off from being a priest. It is a simple limitation of man that we need rest. Also, a sabbatical is not necessarily 'rest' but is developing a part of the man that may have been neglected and should be developed in full.

Marc said...

rcg, I think we are in agreement for the most part. My point, which I think is also Andy's point, is that the priest is not his own. In a sense, he belongs to the flock as his purpose is to see about his own salvation, as well as those souls entrusted to his care.

For his own sake, a priest may need a retreat. This is likewise the case for those of us in the lay state, married or single. The retreat is not about selfishly using our time off, but legitimately refocusing our spiritual lives. Now, that is a legitimate use of priestly vacation, so long as it doesn't interfere with the priest's duty to his flock -- which would include seeing that their spiritual needs are met in his absence.

I would propose that priests would use such vacations wisely not by setting aside saying Mass, but by saying it more slowly and deliberately than a typical daily Mass, which is somewhat rushed because of the laity's work obligations.

Moreover, if a priest is going to be denying his people the grace of daily Mass due to his vacation, there seems to be a prioritization problem as Andy points out. After all, in my work, my clients don't cease to need me just because I need a vacation. So, I continue to see after them or make sure someone else does.

I react negatively to the idea of a priest saying it is the responsibility of his parishioners to see about themselves when he is away. I remember when our Lord went out to pray alone. When the people found him, he welcomed them. He didn't take that opportunity to look for a more remote beach to avoid them...

In sum, I don't begrudge anyone's taking time off. But, such must be done when our responsibilities are met. The responsibilities of priests are more burdensome than some laity, yes. But, as Andy points out, that is their vocation. I do not work the hours of a priest or in the same manner because it is not my vocation.

Pater Ignotus said...

Andy - You can't call taking days off "repugnant" and, at the same time, not judge those who take a day off. You do judge us as acting in a repugnant way.

The abortion matter is an ANALOGY. No one is claiming that abortion and days off are in the same ball park. Just as you can't think the idea of abortion is repugnant, then turn around and NOT judge those who have abortions, you can't call taking a day off repugnant and then turn around and not judge those who take days off.

You CLAIM you are not judging, but you are.

Andy - In our diocese the trip to/from ordinations is 2 or 3 or 4 hours. It is unreasonable to expect that a priest could celebrate mass, then drive to the ordination. And in my opinion, attending an ordination or a priest's funeral is a higher value than celebrating daily mass in a parish.

No one is "abandoning" the mass by going to an ordination or a funeral.

Marc - Of course I don't wear clerical attire when I am on vacation. And Marc, it is YOUR responsibility not to sin, not to fall into mortal sin, not your pastor's responsibility.

Gene said...

RCG, I have already said that I agree that Priests should have vacations.

Marc said...

True, it is my responsibility not to sin, just as it is your responsibility as a priest to hear my Confession when I do sin.

It is also your responsibility to aid your flock with spiritual guidance so as to bring them away from sin. It is also your responsibility to offer the Sacraments, and therefore, the grace to avoid sin and its occasions.

If you do all that faithfully, take a vacation! My only point is that a priest's vacation should not disrupt the spiritual lives of his flock by, for example, removing from them the Sacraments unduly (that is why you would have another priest come in to help out, or, in Macon, you could inform them of the other parishes' schedules for Mass and Confession).

I don't find this to be very controversial practically speaking. Of course, there are scenarios that would complicate matters to be certain. I find it troubling when all the priests leave the area and don't say Mass because of the clergy retreat. That is a silly thing to take every priest away for a few days. In my experience, this resulted in "Communion Services" with a deacon or some such person. I think that scenario should be avoided. But, no one has yet put me in charge and it is looking doubtful that I'll be elected pope.

Andy Milam said...

Fr. Kavanaugh,

"You can't call taking days off "repugnant" and, at the same time, not judge those who take a day off. You do judge us as acting in a repugnant way."

Could you please show me where I have judged either you or Fr. McDonald personally?

I do not judge you.

"The abortion matter is an ANALOGY."

It's a bad analogy, because the premises are wrong. You can't apply doctrine and opinion in the same way. Sigh....

"In our diocese the trip to/from ordinations is 2 or 3 or 4 hours. It is unreasonable to expect that a priest could celebrate mass, then drive to the ordination."

Simply put, no it is not unreasonable. It takes what, a half an hour at most to celebrate Holy Mass? I fail to see the imposition on your time.

"No one is "abandoning" the mass by going to an ordination or a funeral."

That is your opinion. But to those who look for your guidance at Holy Mass and do not have it may have a different opinion. And it isn't your opinion which counts. You are the servant, not the master. Another concept lost on you, Father Kavanaugh.

Pater Ignotus said...

Andy - In this diocese the following are the distances from various cities to the Cathedral in Savannah where ordinations are celebrated: Columbus to Savannah, 247 miles; Thomasville to Savannah, 227 miles; Macon to Savannah, 166 miles; Albany to Savannah, 229 miles. But Noooooo, it's not unreasonable for a priest to celebrate a Saturday morning mass and then drive 200 miles to a 10:00 a.m. ordination in Savannah. What planet do you live on?

Analogies are not comparisons, which you should have learned by 3rd grade. In the analogy offered I am not comparing abortion to not saying mass. That is not how analogies work.

An analogy is an inference or an argument from one particular to another particular. Again, it is NOT a comparison of one particular to another.

"Pencil is to write as crayon is to color." In this analogy a comparison is not being made between a pencil and a crayon.

"Boy is to shirt as girl is to blouse." Again, no comparison between boys and girls.

"Gold is to goldsmith as iron is to blacksmith." No comparison of gold and iron.

Got it?

I am indeed a servant. But I am not a slave.

Andy Milam said...

Fr. Kavanaugh;

"In this diocese the following are the distances from various cities to the Cathedral in Savannah where ordinations are celebrated: Columbus to Savannah, 247 miles; Thomasville to Savannah, 227 miles; Macon to Savannah, 166 miles; Albany to Savannah, 229 miles. But Noooooo, it's not unreasonable for a priest to celebrate a Saturday morning mass and then drive 200 miles to a 10:00 a.m. ordination in Savannah. What planet do you live on?"

To answer your last question first, Earth.

Thank you for the Geography lesson, however it was unnecessary, as I am fully capable of using Google Maps.

That notwithstanding, it is absolutely repugnant that a priest would forgo Holy Mass for his parish of which he is the pastor, so that he can be somewhere else. I am sure that both the Ordinary and the ordinand would understand. There is no mandate that a priest MUST be at the ordination of another. While it is laudable that a priest would make every effort to be there, it would certainly be no swipe against his loyalty if he were to stay put and pastor his flock.

As for your run on analogies....very creative, but honestly...you miss the point.

Gene said...

Analogy: Ignotus is to Priesthood as turtle is to fence post.

Pater Ignotus said...

Andy- So how does the priest in
Columbus celebrate a 7:30 a.m. mass - just 30 minutes - then drive 247 miles for a 10:00 a.m. ordination? That doesn't happen on this planet...

Andy Milam said...

Fr. Kavanaugh;

He celebrates the Mass and sends his regrets that he will not be able to make the ordination, due to the fact that he must pastor his parish.

That does happen on this planet.

I think that the priest in my scenario has his priorities in line. Will will not speculate on your scenario.

Pater Ignotus said...

Andy - A priest does not belong to a parish - he belongs to a diocese. For a priest to skip morning mass in his parish in order to attend the priestly ordinations in his diocese is not a matter of misplaced priorities, but a recognition of the importance of ordinations.

A priest who, refusing to skip a parish morning mass, is rarely or never present for ordinations, retirement celebrations of priests, the funerals of the family members of his brother priests is the one who hasmisplaced priorities. He also may have an overblown sense of his own importance and singularity.

Pastoring a parish includes extra-parochial duties and obligations.