Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sheep


And shepherds who don't love animals.
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A couple of weeks ago some parishioners organized a celebration for priests marking the conclusion of the Year of the Priest at my parish.  It was the only event scheduled for the year long commemoration, and it occurred a week or two after the Holy Year officially closed.  I mention the timing since any concern or interest in the plenary indulgence attached to such observances seems to have been overlooked. 
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The organizers invited former pastors and priests who grew up in the parish to concelebrate Mass and treated to a formal dinner afterwards.  Ten active priests showed up to concelebrate.  It seemed to me that what I saw on the altar was ten representations of priest - ten versions of post-Vatican II Catholic priests.  One priest in particular, a rather progressive former pastor - who happened to be the reason I stopped going to Mass in the parish in the first place - stood out amongst the group.  He seemed especially obvious as the Eucharistic prayer began, as he watched the congregation kneel in unison.  (When he had been pastor, the assembly stood throughout the Eucharistic prayer and the consecration - at daily Mass, they gathered around the altar.)  Father's eyes widened in mock surprise, tilted his head back somewhat, and laughed - silently of course, but demonstrably, kind of heaving his chest slightly as he did so, emulating a sort of belly laugh.  As pastor he literally frowned upon those who wished to kneel, pushing for a more democratic celebration of the communal banquet instead, in fact he was always the last person to receive communion, and then from the hands of a layman.  (Yes, that is a liturgical abuse.)
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This particular former pastor had a reputation for being arrogant and pompous, despite his liberal ideas, which probably should have caused him to be ever so approachable and amenable to the spiritual needs of his flock.  However, giving him the benefit of the doubt, considering what appeared to be pomposity more as an acquired sense of dignity and decorum, I put aside my prejudice for this event.  Until he reacted to the congregation kneeling at the Eucharistic prayer.  He appeared once again as his old, condescending self. 
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I interpreted his laugh to be one of scorn... in essence mocking the sheep.

7 comments:

  1. Austringer11:48 AM

    Our priest has told the story, a number of times, of a priest who had a "near death" or "out-of-body" experience as the result of a car accident: the priest heard his past sins and ommissions being recited and he could not dispute the sinfulness of any of them.
    Nothing really big, mind you -- just carelessness and apathy, but he was being condemned to Hell. Then he heard a female voice, asking to give the priest one more chance -- and that chance was given.

    Our pastor relates that story to illustrate Mary's intercessory role, but I have always been more struck (and more than a little frightened) by the idea of an ordinary priest (our pastor stressed that he was not a big sinner) going to Hell -- if a priest can't make it to heaven, what chance do the rest of us have?!! But then I think of the their responsibilties as a shepherd, and then read stories like the one you just related, and I can't help think that there is literally going to be Hell to pay for these kinds of actions. So many sheep led astray, so much irreverence given a priest's sta,p of approval.

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  2. Anonymous11:50 AM

    Hi Terry -

    I had a similar experience a couple of weeks ago. Our parish merged with another, and our good bishop sent us a new pastor. Our previous priest, who had the title of "administrator" since we were undergoing the merger process, was much like the priest you describe. He told us he was the only priest who had applied for the job, and that he planned on making "big changes" once he was named pastor (our merging parish was traditional and orthodox). Parishioners from both parishes quietly started a Rosary novena during Lent, begging the Holy Spirit to guide our Bishop and send us a very good, holy priest, and to not send the priest from the other parish, who we all greatly admired, too far away.

    One month after Lent, our bishop announced he was sending us a former Franciscan who had become a diocesan priest to us, and the priest from the other parish was only being transferred one mile up the road! The more we get to know our new pastor, the better we love him. In our diocese, it is extremely rare for a priest who is being transferred not to be sent to the other end of the diocese, so you can imagine our feelings when the priest from the merging parish was assigned so closely.

    GOD IS GOOD (and so is Our Lady!)

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  3. Austringer: scary indeed. I also trust and hope in Our Lady's intercession

    Anonymous: wonderful story that illustrates how God answers prayers of the faithful!

    Terry: When I was away in India, my parish back in the States went thru the same thing. It was devastating, as it created a diaspora that this parish has never quite recovered from. I wish he and other such priests would just retire -- for their own soul's good, as well as all the poor sheep being led astray under their watch. God help us all.

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  4. "Austringer said...
    Our priest has told the story, a number of times, of a priest who had a "near death" or "out-of-body" experience as the result of a car accident: the priest heard his past sins and ommissions being recited and he could not dispute the sinfulness of any of them."


    Looks like this story:

    http://www.sanctepater.com/2010/05/father-steven-scheier-describes-his.html

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  5. Austringer: I wonder if there's a special place in hell for christians. :(

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  6. Our Lady of Good Success.

    Four hundred years ago in Quito, Ecuador, Our Lady appeared.

    Her predictions of the Priesthood in our times is amazing. It has full Vatican approval.

    There is a DVD out about it.

    It is a must see.

    Dear Miss Belinda,

    Do not be afraid of Hell, be afraid of God's justice.

    Ask the Mother of Mercy to wrap you in the fold of her mantle, for never was it know that anyone who fled to her protection was left unaided.

    Please remember us when you get to Heaven.

    I entrust this whole matter in the hands of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, “Mother of the Priest par excellence, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and through Him, of all priests in whom she forms her Son”.


    *

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  7. Austringer6:42 PM

    Vincenzo, yes, I think that was the priest. I couldn't remember the priest's name (it's been a while since our pastor related that story), but the story is the same.

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