By Mary Lou Rosien
I was recently put into an uncomfortable situation by a friend. She was not happy with a particular priest’s handling of an issue and complained to me about it. It was a situation that I actually agree with her on, in principle, but I did not like to hear the priest criticized.
It seems so easy these days to find things wrong with the way our priests carry out their vocations. Don’t misunderstand, in matters of Church teachings there can and should be honest concern about priests who are not in compliance with the direction from Rome. However, we should not forget the love and sacrifice that our priests offer up for us on a daily basis. It is far too easy to fall into a critical mode and ignore that these holy men are the only ones able to bring Christ to us in the Eucharist.
Instead of focusing on the fact that this one seems too liberal, that one too strict, the other filled with fire and brimstone, we should focus our efforts on praying for our priests and supporting them. We must trust that if they are in error, the Lord can touch their hearts and change them. If they are struggling with temptation, we can remember the times they have heard our confessions and graciously made available to us the grace of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Could we survive the constant scrutiny of our peers the way the priest must do with their congregations?
The life of a priest can be challenging and lonely. They are often away from family and required to do a tremendous amount of work with little time to themselves. They give us their hearts, time and their lives. We can give them our support and our love. I remember a great speaker saying to us once, “If you are all such great Christians, why isn’t this whole area converted?” Couldn’t this be said of our own churches and congregations? As in Sacred Scripture, when our priests tire we should hold up their arms so that they can praise the Lord, just as Aaron and Hur did for Moses. Exodus 17:12
On Father’s Day, we can take time to reflect all the good our priests have done for us. One priest came out to our home on his only day off to give my dying father-in-law the Sacrament of the Sick. Another opened his own home to us when we had to move suddenly and had no where to go. Still another never denies my children the Sacrament of Reconciliation no matter when or where (this includes right before Mass or in the church parking lot). This Father’s Day, we can remember to have our students write thank you notes or Father’s Day cards to our spiritual fathers, our priests. God bless our Pope, Bishops and Priests. God bless our Pope, Bishops and Priests.
Happy Father’s Day!
Mary Lou Rosien is the author of Managing Stress with the Help of your Catholic Faith (OSV Publishing). Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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