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Scots Catholic

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Common Difficulties with Faith Part 1 - The Parish Priest

Posted on July 22, 2014 at 8:41 AM
 
Over the next three days we will be looking at common difficulties encountered in the faith journey of many people across the world. 
These are: difficulties with your priest, the length of the Mass, and struggling with scripture.
This list is of course not exhaustive.  However, it was felt that these were among the most common issues arising out of conversations with Catholic people on their faith.
 
 
Part 1 - Difficulties with a Priest
 
While a priest - our shepherd charged with the task of leading us ever closer to God and increasing our faith - is important, we must not use him as an excuse to reject God.
 
While confidence among clergy is at an all time low following the discovery of child abuse at the hands of sick men who should have known so much better, not every priest should be judged against this standard of behaviour.
In addition, not every priest can be expected to fit into our own personal image of what we feel they should be and how we feel they should carry out their priestly duties.
 
It is true that a priest should be welcoming and approachable and must work hard to look after the faith interests of his flock.  Yet this must be done within the framework of the Church.  This framework, which includes the Commandments of God, the life of Christ, sacred scripture, the precepts of the Church, the Catechism, encyclicals by countless popes, and so on, forms the rules and traditions by which we are expected to live out our faith.
It is within this framework that the priest must preach to his congregation.  It is within this framework that the priest must care for his flock.
 
We must remember that a priest’s job is not restricted to simply saying Mass and preaching through a homily.  He must also tend to the sick, tend to the dying, comfort those in mourning, hear confessions, take the Blessed Sacrament to the housebound, study the faith, look after the administrative aspects of the parish, deal with numerous ministries, attend meetings, and, of course, spend countless hours each day praying for his parish and for his flock.
 
While a priest’s character may be important, it is also important for those who lend themselves to the persistent interrogation of a priest to consider all that goes on behind the man who stands up to preach on a Sunday morning. 
 
His entire life is, in my view, devoted to two things: serving the Father, and serving his flock.
 
Yes, many priests don’t fit into our personal ideal.  But is that really their fault?  Are we perhaps setting the bar too high for these fellow human beings?  Do we appreciate the countless hours they are putting in each day for our good?  Do we appreciate the challenges they face in working within a complicated framework in order to ensure that our relationship with Jesus is developed, giving us the best possible chance of eternal happiness in Heaven? 
 
Our parish priest may well have his flaws (don’t we all?), but one of his primary tasks is to get us to Heaven.  He devotes much time to this task.
So, while some people spend endless hours discussing the negative points of their priest, often criticising him, he is spending endless hours in prayer for those same people.
 
 
Check out our blog tomorrow for 'Part 2 - The Length of the Mass'

Categories: Catholic, Church, Faith, Parish, Prayer, Priesthood, Vocations

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9 Comments

Reply Misellie
5:11 PM on July 22, 2014 
When my Dad died, the parish priest didn't darken my door..not once...the extraordinary minister came to the rosary and led the prayers.
I could have been distraught, poor, unable to deal with my loss emotionally or financially.No matter.
My dad was 96 and struggled each week to attend Mass, it really mattered to him ;but my dad didn't matter to the parish priest...I pay my dues to this parish but I attend another parish.
Incidentally, my neighbour died last year. Robert was Church of Scotland but wasn't often present. The minister came, prayed with neighbours and family and helped them organise the funeral....
Who in their right mind would be a Catholic?
Reply Scots Catholic
6:14 PM on July 22, 2014 
Misellie says...
When my Dad died, the parish priest didn't darken my door..not once...the extraordinary minister came to the rosary and led the prayers.
I could have been distraught, poor, unable to deal with my loss emotionally or financially.No matter.
My dad was 96 and struggled each week to attend Mass, it really mattered to him ;but my dad didn't matter to the parish priest...I pay my dues to this parish but I attend another parish.
Incidentally, my neighbour died last year. Robert was Church of Scotland but wasn't often present. The minister came, prayed with neighbours and family and helped them organise the funeral....
Who in their right mind would be a Catholic?

Hi Misellie, that's a very unfortunate situation and it should never have happened that way. As an active member of the Parish your dad should have been afforded the respect of the priest. As I said in the blog post, there are unfortunately priests who have done wrong and if I can add that this isn't restricted to abuse. It also extends to lack of compassion in some cases too which is not right. However, I would argue that the significant majority of priests are good men as described in the article. Where priests do wrong it is important to look beyond them to Christ, truly present in the Blessed Sacrament. And even where the priest sins, we must believe in this great gift from God and its saving grace for all of us.
Reply
7:07 PM on July 22, 2014 
The simple truth is a priest is a human with all the same frailties that we all have. We pray for them that they will be strong and should offer first Saturdays for good strong priests inspired by the holy spirit. But too many of them see it as a job and not a vocation. Parish should not be left without a priest so they can have a holiday or attend a family gathering or be pressured into attending diocese events. My first priest reminded his servers every day that the best way to start a day was with daily mass and yet so many parishes have priests who on their day off cannot be found. The fight is at hand were are the generals to lead the good fight?
Reply Scots Catholic
7:50 PM on July 22, 2014 
[]
The simple truth is a priest is a human with all the same frailties that we all have. We pray for them that they will be strong and should offer first Saturdays for good strong priests inspired by the holy spirit. But too many of them see it as a job and not a vocation. Parish should not be left without a priest so they can have a holiday or attend a family gathering or be pressured into attending diocese events. My first priest reminded his servers every day that the best way to start a day was with daily mass and yet so many parishes have priests who on their day off cannot be found. The fight is at hand were are the generals to lead the good fight?
[/]
I think to be fair, priests are entitled to holidays, much like the rest of us.
I expect they work longer hours than the average professional out there and their hours can be quite unsociable (tending to the sick, the dying etc).
Of course they should try to arrange cover for holidays but, with that not always being possible (due to priest shortages), perhaps we need to cut them a little slack on occasion. They do, after all, need rest and recuperation like the rest of us.
Reply
8:25 PM on July 22, 2014 
Your answer sums up the problem. Their model should be that of Christ. The Shepherd never leaves his flock less they are scattered. So I doubt a priest works longer or harder hours than a mother or father who are also called to a vocation. So by your logic a mother or father should go off and have a break from family life without caring what happens? When the wolves gather the Shepherd stands at post praying that sleep does not come less the least should be lost. It's a vocation not a job. No wonder seminaries are closing and congregations grow older and reduce year on year. Part of fixing a problem is recognising what the problem is. Your answer echoes around the closed churches.
Reply Scots Catholic
9:56 PM on July 22, 2014 
[]
Your answer sums up the problem. Their model should be that of Christ. The Shepherd never leaves his flock less they are scattered. So I doubt a priest works longer or harder hours than a mother or father who are also called to a vocation. So by your logic a mother or father should go off and have a break from family life without caring what happens? When the wolves gather the Shepherd stands at post praying that sleep does not come less the least should be lost. It's a vocation not a job. No wonder seminaries are closing and congregations grow older and reduce year on year. Part of fixing a problem is recognising what the problem is. Your answer echoes around the closed churches.
[/]
I appreciate and accept your point that it is a vocation but I maintain that priests require some respite in order to undertake that vocation. I take it you were not impressed with Pope Francis when he took a couple of days off his duties two weeks ago because he was tired?
Reply Anon
2:07 PM on July 23, 2014 
I find the attitude of some people towards their Priest completely selfish, ignorant and unchristian. To expect your Priest, a human man who can have a parish (or 2), schools, hospitals, prisons, the sick, the bereaved, etc in his care and not expect him to take a break in just completely unrealistic. While the Priest devotes himself to Christ and his Church he is still human and still needs a rest. Everyone needs a rest from their labour. I think it would also be wise for us lay persons to rather than sit in a pew and complain about how little a Priest does look at ourselves and think of how little we do. You don't have to be ordained to dedicate your life to the Church. Many people complain about having to give 1 hour of their week to their faith yet expect their Priest to be there beck and call. Even if your Priest is not in the parish all the time, that does not mean he is off enjoying himself. He could be carrying out another ministry in a hospital, school, prison, army etc. Or it may be due to health reasons, either physical or mental, that he has to take time away.
It is important for us, especially at a time when there are so few priests, to support our priests and help them in their ministry and their struggles, rather than to criticise and complain about everything he does. There is no such thing as the perfect priest and no matter what he does someone will always complain. Pray for our Prists dont complain about them, its neither helpful nor christian. Maybe its because of the treatment they receive (and I have witness this personally) that they are so few new ones. The Priest is not just a man who is there when we need him and forgotten about when we dont. He is a man chosen by God to help guide lost souls to heaven. We could all do more for our priests, our Church and ourselves so why don't we do more?
When was the last time you said thank you to your priest for all that he does and when was the last time you prayed for him?
Reply Scots Catholic
2:24 PM on July 23, 2014 
Anon says...
I find the attitude of some people towards their Priest completely selfish, ignorant and unchristian. To expect your Priest, a human man who can have a parish (or 2), schools, hospitals, prisons, the sick, the bereaved, etc in his care and not expect him to take a break in just completely unrealistic. While the Priest devotes himself to Christ and his Church he is still human and still needs a rest. Everyone needs a rest from their labour. I think it would also be wise for us lay persons to rather than sit in a pew and complain about how little a Priest does look at ourselves and think of how little we do. You don't have to be ordained to dedicate your life to the Church. Many people complain about having to give 1 hour of their week to their faith yet expect their Priest to be there beck and call. Even if your Priest is not in the parish all the time, that does not mean he is off enjoying himself. He could be carrying out another ministry in a hospital, school, prison, army etc. Or it may be due to health reasons, either physical or mental, that he has to take time away.
It is important for us, especially at a time when there are so few priests, to support our priests and help them in their ministry and their struggles, rather than to criticise and complain about everything he does. There is no such thing as the perfect priest and no matter what he does someone will always complain. Pray for our Prists dont complain about them, its neither helpful nor christian. Maybe its because of the treatment they receive (and I have witness this personally) that they are so few new ones. The Priest is not just a man who is there when we need him and forgotten about when we dont. He is a man chosen by God to help guide lost souls to heaven. We could all do more for our priests, our Church and ourselves so why don't we do more?
When was the last time you said thank you to your priest for all that he does and when was the last time you prayed for him?

Brilliant summing up of the difficulties many of our priests face today. Thank you for supporting our priests.
Reply replicas relojes suizos
11:49 AM on July 26, 2014 
Los sedimentos de los fondos marinos albergan también minerales de este tipo pero, al desconocer con precisión su localización, no son de momento considerados como una fuente potencial de " replicas relojes espana s raras". En Castilla, la se?ora Luz Sánchez llenó con relojes hasta bolsas de basura ante la falta de recipientes de gran capacidad. Yo no meto vicio, pero mis amigos sí.