Archive for November, 2010

A Fatherly Priest

For the past two weeks I have been attending daily Mass at a beautiful little parish church in the small town where I live. The parish is in a bit of turmoil as the most recent pastor has announced that he is leaving the priesthood after 18 years of ministry – it seems Father is getting married. What is most distressing about this sad situation is that when Father announced his plans to leave, the congregation APPLAUDED him and wished him luck in his “new life.” Have Catholics been so left in the dark, so weakened in their faith and so indifferent to the current situation in the Church that something as tragic as a priest leaving his vocation provokes only applause and congratulations? This is akin to a man with a wife and children deciding that he wants to leave and start a “new life.” What has happened to the idea of commitment and unselfish service, even in times of suffering and trial?
We have lost respect for the dignity of the priesthood and a life in imitation of Our Lord who endured everything that we endure and much more.
But this post is meant to share a hidden grace and gift given by God to the folks who attend daily Mass at this parish. The elderly priest who has been offering Mass while this chaos has enveloped the parish is the picture of humility, a great example of devotion and selfless commitment to doing the Lord’s work. His quiet demeanor and unassuming manner is a breath of fresh air in the midst of the turbulence caused by proud posturing and self seeking by the vast majority of the souls which he encounters day by day. I watch him as he says Mass with his gentle but firm voice and I can tell he has been through all the battles and wars with the enemy – he has encountered every trial and problem that a truly holy priest is almost guaranteed to face. But, he understands that he is in the school of the Master and the cross of tribulation and trouble is the surest, fastest way to sanctity and happiness.
I found myself face to face with this priest one day as he visited relatives next door. I complimented him on the way he offers the Mass and he just lit up like a Christmas tree. He is childlike – not childish – and dignified. His humility is like a sweet fragrance that pleases those he encounters – probably similar to a certain carpenter from a little town named Nazareth who just happened to change the world. Pray for priests. God Bless.

Lost Masculinity

I recently listened to an excellent talk on masculinity. This talk centered on the question “where are all the real men?” It is tempting to think that this is a side issue, not something to be too concerned about. On the contrary, it is my opinion that this a vital cog in the machinery being used to dismantle and cripple our society and the Church. It can be compared to a quarterback preparing to receive the snap from the center and one of the cheerleaders standing up, pushing the quarterback aside and running the offense herself. The appointed and intended leader is not leading – he is pushed aside and becomes a spectator of the events on the field. Granted, under normal circumstances, the coach would immediately put a halt to such madness but the point can still be made: when we circumvent or ignore the intended order, the outcome we desire is in jeopardy of never coming to pass. Our success is forfeited in favor of an inferior way of doing things.
In our homes and in the Church, the question can be asked “where are the men?” What has happened? The emasculation of men is painfully obvious to anyone with a sincere desire to discover what has brought about the problems our society faces these days.
There was a time when women were groomed and taught from an early age to be feminine, to yield to the men in positions of leadership in their lives. Why? Because it was taught by the Church and the social institutions in our society that men were intended by Almighty God to lead, to adhere to the traditional order that God had instituted and which proved to be very successful in insuring an acceptable order in civil society. The divorce rate at the turn of the century was less than 10%. Beginning in the 1960’s with the rise of the radical feminist movement, that percentage has steadily risen. The venerated old order was discarded and suddenly men were finding their God-given authority in their homes being challenged and disputed by their wives and daughters. What followed was tension, fighting,
fractured unity and a general sense of unease. Satan is a divider, an instigator – he has used this development in family life and the Church in a masterful way. He is filled with malice and he is very intelligent and crafty.
Here is the point I am trying to make: the proper response for the men in these situations – in the home and in diocesan offices – would have been to assert themselves in a dignified, firm manner and refuse to buckle to this new challenge to authority. Confidence, dignity, and masculinity are vitally needed at moments like these. If done with humility and Christian charity, this response by dads and Church leaders would have prevented some of the carnage we now face. I once heard a bishop state that he and his colleagues had never been confronted with aggressive women before – they simply didn’t know how to react.
Entire generations of young men, verile and wild at heart have been silenced
and stripped of masculinity – that quality God imbues him with to take on the world and subdue it. How has this happened? At the point in their young lives when Dad should gently take him and begin to groom him for manly things and remove him lovingly from the feminine nurturing of his mother –
this natural development is being omitted by absent Dads or Dads who have yielded to society’s pressure to back off and let Mom do it all. A woman has a natural tendency to protect her boys like innocent young bucks in the wilderness – she will hover over those boys at all cost and until Dad steps in and begins to introduce them to the hard lessons life has to teach.
Thankfully, the realization of the gravity of this problem is causing small pockets of christian men to learn their roles as fathers and what needs to happen with their boys. This bodes well for the future – let’s embrace the traditional, SUCCESSFUL, ways of raising our children – God will be there with grace and support – we can count on that. God Bless.