Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Transfer Season

The other day I was standing in line at the grocery store when I overheard a conversation between two people about a priest who was being transferred.
Wow, the season snuck up on me—Transfer Season 2011 is here and in full swing. 

Usually ordinations occur during spring—setting off a series of movements and transfers like dominoes falling.   In the past there would be several new priests all primped and ready to go.  However, today it is a different story in many dioceses.  
None-the-less at least two people were interested in what was going down.
People talking about transfers use to drive me nuts.  It was nothing more than gossip.  For a few days or weeks, priest transfers would take the place of the daily weather in conversations--even among clergy.  Do people talk about the new department manager shifts at Wal-Mart?  Do they talk about new doctors coming into a medical practice?  Well, perhaps—but, let’s face, it there is something mysterious about priest assignments and the whole transfer phenomena. 
The bishop perceives a ministerial need and through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit assigns a priest (In an ideal world).  IF everything (big, big, big IF) goes as planned the priest has about 14 days to pack up, say goodbye, move, and show up.  Some priests thrive on the attention and some buckle under the pressure of transition.  Perhaps the system needs to be changed or tweaked.  As an aside—I don’t buy the “I’m moved” have pity on me cry.  Many of the priests are assigned to parishes where they have a roof over their head, food on the table, and even someone to clean their toilet—free of the worries that many people have.  Right, transfers for a guy aren’t easy—but they certainly are not the end of the world.

Still, why do people chat about this?

Because they are starving.  Starving for spiritual sustenance.  And the priest is their connection.  In our church, our ecclesiology, our sacramental life—the priest is ‘in the person of Christ’.  When I was an active priest I often times forgot that I was always ‘in the person of Christ’.  I believe that the chatter surrounding the arrival or departure of a priest (aside from scandal) is indicative of a much deeper need of the people of God. 

They need a spiritual father—not another fundraiser, program director, or Sunday morning entertainer.  They need someone to model for them fasting and prayer. They need someone who will preach the truth and allow the Holy Spirit to inspire and heal.  They need a priest who will not only spend time in the confessional but will go to confession.  They need a spiritual father who will confront evil. 

So the people talk—out of need.  Either their deep spiritual needs were being met and they hope that the new guy will continue to draw them deeper into holiness—or they talk because they're still on the gossip level and don’t even know they have spiritual needs that have gone unmet for years.  Either way transfer season 2011 is open.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

blacksheepdog? the priest formerly known as corapi

Okay, I admit.  I spent a few minutes watching the latest priest who leaves with a chip on his shoulder scandal.  I even listen to an audio byte.
I will never get those minutes back--crap.

I searched 'blacksheepdog' on google and was directed to a belgian puppy website.
Give it time and a few twitters and a few hits and he'll be running his web diocese.  Remember the bishop who began a virtual diocese back in the 90's?  What was his name? And then the guy from Miami and what about that fellow in Chicago and the other guy out west who started his own church--all this year right?

There is a huge story around this one, the bad dog priest or black dog priest or sheep dog--whatever his new name is (it reminded me of the artist formerly known as prince--come to think of it perhaps his new name ought to be the priest formerly known as corapi)  This one is a carefully orchestrated leaking of scandal, rumor and extortion.  Probably movie rights have already been discussed.

So where does this leave us?
Obviously I don't know the entire story--nobody ever will.  But there is one deflection that is being floated by his camp and it goes like this---Others are at fault here not me!   Should we follow the deflections and look at the faults of the church and the bishop(s) and the magisterium as he insuates? I use to do that, it's really easy and you don't have to look too hard to find the faults.  But it's nothing more than a diversion and probably, in the end demonic.  When I first left the ministry and felt unwelcome and had no home--it was easy to ferment and find fault and blame.  Come on--man up! or priest up at least.
Finding faults is nothing more than preparation for blame (on a variety of levels)

We find faults with people all the time.  Just drive 10 miles in traffic.  Just sit in a different pew in church.  Just go visit family for more than 3 days.  You get the picture.  And it is easy to focus on our faults--I weigh too much or too little.  I'm bald.  I'm gray.  I'm not smart.  I never finished that project.

Really, finding faults is the way to spiritual depth?

I have no suggestion for the whats-up-big-dog-expriest--except this--don't leave the Church.


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Hey Pilgrim!

The following link will take you a concise and very interesting update on Medugorje.

An upcoming pilgrimage is also being planned for late October into November and is starting to fill.  If you feel called to go on pilgrimage please use the following email and mark 'inquire' in the subject line.  This is just a preliminary request for more information.

Our last pilgrimage (this past May) was truly soul changing and life giving for many.  Pray hard about the possibility of taking this time for your soul.
Check out the pilgrimage page as you discern.

Monday, June 13, 2011

A Father

The following article of mine was picked up by Priest Magazine last year.

I sat in the pew and listened as the newly ordained priest introduced himself to the congregation; “Hello, I am Father…”  I remembered the many times I stood before a congregation and how blank their stare was.  But there was no getting around it.  The first weekend in a parish for a new priest was simply exhausting on a variety of levels.    
            Sitting next to me were my wife and son and the three of us glanced and smiled at one another.  As the priest  began his homily, I settled into thinking about the word he just used; Father.  Though I knew he was using it simply as a title, I couldn’t help but wonder if he was aware of its power—a power that can open his life to a much deeper existence.  Father is a word that transcends the vocational boundaries of priesthood and dadhood.  So, for what it is worth, here are some thoughts from a man who was both.

Being a Dad means you are not the center.
Fatherhood isn’t about you—you are about it.  Priesthood isn’t about you—you are about it.

Fatherhood is about sacrifice
Dads keep a variety of vigils in life.  From the bedside of your sick child, to the middle of the night worries about losing your job, to watching your spouse suffer through chemotherapy—desperately hoping your child doesn’t fall into despair.  We simply keep vigils at all hours, day and night.  Keeping vigil has something to do with asking the question “Why?” and then moving the heart to trusting that God is present.  Keeping vigil is really about offering everything back to God.  Spend a night in prayer.  It will do your soul good.

There is no such thing as a day off.
There might be a day off from work or even vacations—but you are still a Dad.  In priesthood, a day off should not become an excuse to blend into the world.  One of the worst homilies I ever heard was preached at a first Mass of a newly ordained—the premise being that to be a good priest the new priest must venture forth and immerse himself in the world. He must read, watch and listen to what the people read, watch, and listen. Really?

Being a parent means trusting in Divine Providence.
It means putting earthly desires aside and consciously uncovering your soul’s desire for God.  When this happens—God provides everything you need.  Where is your desire?  What is your desire?  Being more concerned about the diocesan campaign and weekly collection than anything else is fertile ground for self destruction.

To be a good Dad, I need to pray and fast
Constant prayer and fasting must be modeled.  As a priest it is easy to get caught up in the responsibility of leading prayer—so much that one forgets to pray.  That is acting not praying.  Fasting, true physical fasting magnifies heartfelt prayer.  “Only by prayer and fasting…”-Jesus Christ

A Dad must not shy from teaching right from wrong.  
For now, I must be my son’s shield and filter from the media frenzied world.  You are the teacher—Nobody else has the responsibility of your child’s soul.
Priests, are you truly living a conscientious priesthood and teaching right from wrong?  Are you truly caring for their souls?  Or are you living a soft approach more conscious of popularity?  Being a priest means that you are loved for just that—not super homilies, not building a parish, not even keeping everyone ‘entertained’ on a Sunday morning.  Live the Sacrifice…there is no greater love.  Spend just as much time in the confessional as you do in meetings.

The easiest way to be a good Dad is to love your son’s Mother.
Not all Dad’s have the blessing of a loving wife and mother of their son.  But I know one thing, without her I’d be lost.  Her love makes me want to be a good Dad.
Priests, love the Mother of Jesus, she will help you.

Being a Dad means I will never have this opportunity again.
Every practice, every event, every game, every recital, every kiss good night, every prayer—live your Fatherhood with intention.
Pray this Mass as if it were your first, your only, and your last

And so, let us pray for our Fathers.

Sizzling Holy Water

And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,
“Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
and whose sins you retain are retained.”

I rarely, if ever, begin a post with a passage from Holy Scripture.
But it is a good beginning for today.
After all, it is the initial 'sending' of the Apostles.  It is their beginning.  It is our beginning.  It is the moment of receiving the Holy Spirit--the love of between the Father and Son, the Creator and Redeemer.  It is  God mystically manifested to His Son's disciples.  

The only way the Church continued on,  from that moment in the Upper Room, is because they did what He told them to do.

"...whose sins you forgive will be forgiven them..."
The first task Jesus gives his crew is to be about the business of forgiveness.
After that it's easy.

But we spin our wheels re-inventing the wheel.  We want another way.
It's easy not to listen when you are filling your ears with all the other crap.
It's easy not to feel the breath of God when you are running.

On another note (and, in my mind related)---
During the celebration of Holy Mass yesterday I turned to give the sign of peace to some ladies who were standing in the pew behind us.  They had sour faces.
At home my lovely wife shared; "Did you hear the one lady's comment during the sprinkling rite?"
"No, I didn't.  What'd she say?"
"Right when Father......... walked past sprinkling, she said with disgust--'He doesn't have to do that!"
Had my hearing been better I would have turned and asked them if the water burned.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Spiritual Stalls

It happens to us all.

Spiritual stalls squelch the heart of hope.
Soon questions fill your head and un-certitudes creep in. Bad things happen around you or to you.  You no longer want to be where you are at.  You try to live a good life and you try to maintain your discipline--but all you witness are injustices and greed and more greed and pride and whatever sin you want to name--and they affect you.  You get angry.  All you want is one break..one stinking little thing to 'go your way.'  You are ready and willing to serve God and go anywhere to do it--but there is no answer, no direction, you've waited for years--a true spiritual stall.

It is so easy to rationalize and maybe even fall into despair.
You begin to live in questions that cannot be answered.  You begin to think of returning back to your Egypt where at least your appetites were satiated and your stomach was full.

Spiritual stalls are part of the spiritual journey--if you didn't have them you wouldn't know that you were on the right track.  But heed the moment because satan will use a stall quicker than you can say a Hail Mary.
Spiritual stalls can become spiritual infections that wear you down.  And it is certain death to be have an infection in the desert.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Bad Dad

This past Tursday my son said to me; "Dad isn't today a holy day?"
"No.  It's just June second."

So yesterday at Mass I felt awful.
While we were leaving he said; "It's not a sin for me, it's on you...Ha!"

Though I'm sure he lost any innocence by relishing my fault, he is right.
I failed.
And here is the kicker-- This time missing Mass really bothered me.
Years back I wouldn't have thought much about it (let alone write on the matter).
But he is right--it is my responsibility--for his soul.
And his soul wasn't first on my list.
This reminds me of the time my son kept asking for new shoes.   I said to my lovely wife; "Didn't we just get him shoes?"
Turns out he was wearing shoes two sizes too small.

If anything my fault may have encouraged my son to write on the Laws of the Church.

So I pray to St. Joseph