What do you think a parish priest does all day? Do you have a realistic understanding of what’s involved? Fr. Martin Fox asks the same question and provides a primer on the false expectations and the reality. He’s not whining or asking for special consideration, but if we’re talking about a priest shortfall and looking for solutions, then it behooves us to know what exactly is involved. He adds a quote from St. Charles Borromeo:
“Are you in charge of a parish? If so, do not neglect the parish of your own soul, do not give yourself to others so completely that you have nothing left for yourself. You have to be mindful of your people without being forgetful of yourself.”
Of course, we also have an obligation to ask ourselves as laity what we expect of ourselves, or more accurately, what the Church expects of us. Are we supporting our priests and our parish as they require?
A priest despairs
Matt Abott reprints a letter from Fr. James Haley of Arlington, Virginia, who’s been put on trial in an ecclisiastical court for disobeying his bishop by speaking up about homosexuality and heterodoxy among the priests of his diocese. Read Father’s letter and pray for him. He has lost his faith and is despairing of God. You can almost hear the psalmist demanding of God why the evildoers prosper while the good suffer.
Do we all pray enough for our priests individually and collectively? Do we support our own parish priest, whether orthodox or heterodox, in prayer? Do we seek out opportunities to go the extra mile in offering support and encouragement to good priests?
Melanie reminded me that Adrienne von Speyr says that the 7 Last Words of Christ from the Cross correspond to the Seven Sacraments, and that she matched “My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?” with Holy Orders. Because a priest (and in certain ways, a deacon) acts in persona Christi, he too must sometimes walk the Way of the Cross. Some saints believed that all priests would at one time or another enter into the Dark Night of the Soul. When that day comes it will be our prayers—as well as his own fidelity to the Divine Office and Mass and the Rosary—that will see him through.