Our parish priest was recently on the radio calling for “women priests, and progressive reform.” I don’t mean to jump into the shark’s mouth, so I’m choosing to keep quiet when I’m around him. I’ll ask you all to say a prayer for him, he needs it. I will say something to him and I’ll strike up conversation over why his vivid imagination manages to take over his public representation of the Church and the people of his own parish.
At my church, I am the on/off organist. Myself and my aunt are the main “choir” along with the congregants, never failing to join in. My church serves a community of 700 of which 300 attend Mass regularly. We all know each other, we’re all of the same “breed” so to speak. Our new parish priest, God love him, was appointed here not two years ago under self-appointed orders to “renew and refresh the Church.” The only thing he has done so far is to confuse the faithful and give a mixed and uncertain doctrine as to what is to be believed and what is to be thrown out. My struggles with the good Vicar began back in April, when I was filling in for the organist at the next parish over. At the time I was only sixteen; he wasn’t particularly nice or mean-spirited.
Because I’m a bag of nerves at my best and a frayed wire at my worst, I need to practise at least an hour before Mass begins. I started off with Franck’s Pie Jesu, a few hymns, then the beginning lines of the Pie Jesu. It was Lent of course, and as villagers filled the pews I started playing the Immaculate Mary, Ave Maria, and a few other Marian hymns. Like a fish thrust forth from the water into a dry path of air, our parish Priest came running down the aisle and he came over and said a few words to the choir. Then he turned to me and said “This is Lent, do not play Marian hymns.” He left, and I played “Hail Holy Queen, Enthroned Above.” After five minutes or so when I was on another hymn, he came back and knocked over my binder and said “Marian hymns are NOT for the Lenten season” to which I replied “But the Blessed Mother is for all year-round.” He turned red, but he continued on “No. Hymns are meant for May, maybe October. You’re going to play only Lenten music”
I wasn’t going to continue in that childish display of “my way or hit the highway” and I stopped playing until Mass began. What amuses me most (and excuse my self praise here) is that on the way out, several people complimented me on the hymns they heard before Mass. They “don’t hear things like that these days” and “these are the hymns they miss.”
Fast forward a few weeks, and Fr J (we’ll call him for anonymity) revises his plan to “renew and refresh”
- removes the icon of the Mother of Perpetual Help from the sanctuary of the neighbouring Church
- puts in storage the statues of Our Lady and St Joseph
- Converts the Lady Chapel into a conference room
- At our Parish, insists we play contemporary more “hip” songs and hymns
- Is the “nice, loving” guy when he refers to his battles with the Archbishop
- Tells us there’s no need for confession, makes himself unavailable to hear confessions
- Told the congregation that if they have children who won’t go to Mass, don’t complain. They don’t have to go to Mass.
- Leaves the prayers for the Pope and the archbishop out of the Eucharistic prayer
After this a good amount of people began travelling half-an-hour to the city so they can attend Mass without distraction. My intent isn’t to criticise this priest, however questionable his actions are. My intent is to prove the effect of all this confusion, mixed doctrine, and outright denial of the basic tenants of the Catholic faith which I, my family, and all my relatives grew up knowing and learning. This man, this consecrated, ordained man, needs prayer upon prayer. It is no good for me to sit here with my little blog and complain “oh he did this, he did this, he’s not Catholic.” That’s not the way to accomplish anything. I’m only young, I haven’t the experience that the nearest pine tree has in my back garden.
Could it be, that Fr J has in some way become dissatisfied with the Church, disenchanted by it’s beauty and splendour? Perhaps he feels the world is more wise, and that to resonate with a younger generation he must conform to that generation’s beliefs. To the contrary, what this generation needs more than anything is the truth: plain and simple. A lot of my friends have chosen atheism, whether it’s to be purposefully different or if it’s genuine, I won’t be able to tell you. (Most likely it’s a phase and I hope to almighty God that it is.) I’ll ask you to pray for them as well. These displays, the “contemporary ideals”, will not get them back. How often have I heard “I want Church to be Church, not what I saw last time.”
It’s easy for me to sit here and write all this; but have I any idea whatsoever what it’s like to be a priest in the modern Church? Who am I to judge the shepherd of so many, and one who has been at it for well over 30 years? I don’t wish to judge him, that is for the Blessed Trinity alone to do. What I wish to do is point out these attempts to “modernise” only proves to “de-Catholicise” what needs to be “re-Catholicised.”
So forgive me if I’ve said anything incorrect, and I ask you all to please say a prayer for the kind but somewhat confusing priest. You know, always remember to say a prayer and do penance for our priests. Thousands of souls are in their charge, and let us pray that they use their gifts wisely, piously, and in accord with God’s will.
And so, oremus
Keep them; I pray Thee, dearest Lord.
Keep them, for they are Thine
The priests whose lives burn out before
Thy consecrated shrine.
Keep them, for they are in the world,
Though from the world apart.
When earthly pleasures tempt, allure —
Shelter them in Thy heart.
Keep them and comfort them in hours
Of loneliness and pain,
When all their life of sacrifice
For souls seems but in vain.
Keep them and remember, Lord,
they have no one but Thee.
Yet, they have only human hearts,
With human frailty.
Keep them as spotless as the Host,
That daily they caress;
Their every thought and word and deed,
Deign, dearest Lord, to bless.
I have been blessed to have been in the presence of so many brave and holy priests. Let not a day pass without praying for the Church’s ministers, it’s consecrated and religious brothers and sisters, and all the souls in purgatory. God Bless you!
Benedictum nomen Jesu
Benedictum Cor eius sacratissimum
Benedictus Sanguis eius pretiosissimus