Friday, 4 March 2011

Exhausted Priests?

There is reference to priests being "rushed off their feet" on the Catholic Gossip blog. Well, priests are just human and get tired like everyone else, but there are some special reasons why priests might get tired. First of all, many parish priests are in impossible situations. For example, some have to deal with houses and churches that in in a bad state of repair, but do not have the money to deal with these problems. They have to pay the Assessment fee to the Diocese (an important contribution) and may struggle to do it as well as keep the "parish plant" in reasonable condition. This can be a source of stress. Workmen come and go - and sometimes just disappear. A more serious problem is the state of the moral ignorance and laxity of many the faithful who often resent being reminded of the reality of sin. Young people who are "living together" come to have children baptised. Some of them know very little about Catholic moral teaching. Some of them do not know that there are different kinds of sin - many have no real concept of sin anyway. What do they think of the Church? Often their understanding of the Gospel and the Church is so poor they appear to be relatively innocent, but who is to blame for this ignorance? Is it "culpable" (their fault)? is it "invincible" (not their fault)? Is it, perhaps the fault of bishops and priests (and even some teachers and parents) who have failed to preach the Gospel and teach the Faith? What is a priest to do in these situations? What happens when apparently good Mass-going Catholics come to get married and are more concerned about their boyfriend/girlfriend not being a Catholic than they are about the fact that they are "living together"? (One fear is out of date, the other, which should be there, is non-existent). There are other problems. I mention only a few;
many going to Holy Communion, hardly anyone going to Confession. Youngsters missing Mass - with the approval of their parents - and then coming to Communion the following week. People categorising a priest as "strict" because he tries to present the whole faith - including the challenging bits. Priests being criticised for even mentioning abortion, contraception etc (actually this affects very few priests!). Priests being criticised for trying to keep a reverent silence in the church etc, etc. Oh, and priests not being supported in their ministry by the bishop. There is probably much, much more. Priests who do not pray may get depressed. Without prayer we can do very little; without God we can do nothing. Our Lady watches over us, but please be patient when we seem a little tired or fed-up.


  1. I meant to say that many families are in a similarly "impossible" situation with regard to finance and the upkeep of property, so I need to say that this particular problem is shared by many. I did not mention many other demands, but in some case (in some priests' cases, that is) much of the stress - if not checked by prayer and good sense - may come from the dilemmas I have already mentioned. For a good picture of this, see the novel "Fatherless" which I recommended in an earlier post. it gives an excellent snapshot of the priesthood (in the West) from the seventies and into the eighties - and much of that continues.

  2. Excellent post Father. We live in a world that is changing fast and and not for the better. We need to support our priests in any way we can. They are especially in need of our prayers.

  3. I get a bit overwhelmed with catholic trads bemoaning everything that has happened, since the sixties. I only arrived on the planet, in the sixties, yet it seems, my generation and those born a decade or so before, are being wished off the planet, unless we fall in line with the elite liturgy mob. The Holy Spirit will be poured out on ALL flesh, He blows where He wills. Did we (my generation) bring nothing to the faith? It feels like spiritual abortion sometimes, on blogger. I don't mean you Father, but I do mean certain other catholic clergy bloggers. I battle with alcoholism, actually, I don't, God battles for me but certain blogs act as triggers for me, with my scrupulosity(sorry about spelling).
    Have a nice Saturday Father. Please pray for my son's souls.
    I pray for priests, Our Lady's special sons.

  4. Dear Shadowlands,
    although I was born in 1948, I was in seminary in the late 60s and 70s, and like many people I believed everything I was being told by certain people at that time. I embraced vatican 11 - and still do. Unfortunately things did go wrong, not because of Vatican 11 but because of some who were already into their 30s and 40s at that time. The history of all this is now clear. I was just thinking the other day how little I know about St. Thomas Aquinas. One of the people I most admire is Archbishop Fulton Sheen who, as a student, was 'fed' on Aquinas, and the result was a priest who not only knew what to say, but how to say it. It has to be admitted that there have been many mistakes made in those years. Having said all that, I would say that Vatican 11 is wonderful and so was Pope John Paul 1 and John Paul 11. We also had Mother Teresa with us and there have been some remarkable young people, both then and now. Those born in the sixties are now actually helping to put things right. The new crop of priests are devout and know their faith - many of them are exemplary - this is also true of many lay people. Don't feel too bad because mistakes were made - they are not of your doing. You have the joy of helping to lead the Church out of the darkness of those years, using the gift of wisdom to uphold what is good and to discard what is not good. You have more time than I have to do this, so you should rejoice that you are living in these days. I will pray for you and your sons.

  5. I understand where Shadowlands is coming from. There are traditional bloggers out there who are terribly unkind. Some of these are Clergy. Not you Father.
    Their blogs lack charity, humility and basic human kindness. They love to take the moral high ground at every opportunity. They are always right, never wrong and they draw likeminded people into their circle.
    They try to devalue the NO at every turn by proclaiming the virtues of the TLM. The Mass is The Mass, none greater or lesser than the other.
    Our Catholic hierarchy and any laity who support them are torn to shreds. Characters are destroyed with no thought given to damage done or the terrible effect that reading these blogs can have on the laity.
    People like myself are looked down upon, treated with disdain and labelled a 'liberal'. Why? because I don't crave the TLM or enter into long winded arguments about Vatican II.
    I love my Catholic faith, my church and Our Lord. My faith is simple: My work is my prayer and I am not ashamed of that.

  6. Well, I have to say that when I first began blogging I was actually shocked at the lack of charity shown on some blogs, so I understand your point. I left one well-known blog because of this (it was not a priest's blog, by the way)However, I have noticed that I am not on some blogrolls (and I know why). People make judgements they are not really qualified to make, but as I have said in another post, the truth is often not wanted; many are more ready to believe half-truth and misrepresentations. It is sad, but there we are. On one blog I was called a "modernist" because I was not ready to condemn Medjugorje. Whatveer a person's views may be I insist on the necessity of justice and proper respect. I have been sneered at for this, but the Holy Father has actually said something similar. Whatever form of communication we use, we are bound by the same rules of behaviour. Blogging is not a thing apart, as though justice, fairness and respect for others no longer apply. On the contrary we should be especially careful on the internet.

  7. I know of a lady who said she has not been to mass in years because she is a Traditionalist and will only attend the TLM Mass. Both the Trad and Mod are causing quite a stir. Prayer is needed and must admit I'm not praying hard enough.


  8. It must be hard to be a priest. I always thank my priests when they give a good meaty homily because I know it takes a boldness to tell the truth. Too many people want them to water it down, but I appreciate it especially because I have kids. I need them to hear truth from someone besides me.

  9. You may be interested in what I said today - many people will soon be celebrating the Beatification of Pope John Paul 11 and saying "what a wonderful man and Pope he was". The best way to celebrate is to listen to what he said and follow it - for example, Catholics should go to Confession at least once a month!

  10. I love you, Father John. Is it allright to say that? Well, there you go. I've said it now. Lent starts tommorrow. I'm giving up what I've got power in my will, of giving up. Biscuits, sweets and chocolates. All the money saved, I've said to my youngest son, we will pray and ask Jesus, where He wants us, to send the money. Everything's on loan anyway, we're all stewards, has nobody read their scriptures? That's the highest we get, in God's eye material wise, good or bad steward. Regarding our eventual destiny? That's another matter. No lengths He hasn't (won't go to, ya listenin devil?)gone to. John 3:16.

  11. Families may have financial stress and other stresses that a priest has - but, especially in the UK, diocesan priests are almost hermits. You(s) seem to be very much alone with the difficulties. I'm sure it's a great opportunity for spiritual growth and all that, but it must be horribly difficult.

    God bless!