Roll up your sleeves & open your mind ~ Reflections on rebuilding the church Part IV

“We have tremendous potential for many more ordinations to the priesthood. I have seen many fine men who would make excellent priests and who have felt the stirrings of a vocation to the priesthood, and many young women drawn to consecrated life. What is often lacking is encouragement from family and friends – and even from priests – to pursue this calling. Parents in particular will want to remember that, not only for themselves but for their children, the depth of true joy and fulfillment in life comes from one thing only – doing God’s will – and not from material things or from following the same path in life as everyone else.”

I respectfully offer the following thoughts on this . . .

We may be  asked  to remember to do God’s will.  The very real truth in this lay in my last article, and biblical quotations with dialogue.  I have also provided much more reasoning as to why it is not God’s will to have a celibate clergy.  It is not about material things, it is truly about the spiritual gifts and life our Father offers to all of us.

I understand it may be very difficult for a Celibate Religious man to comprehend where I am coming from (where indeed the majority of Catholics are coming from) all those fine things that are spoken of marriage and family and man & woman in God, are His will?

I would suggest here, reading or revisiting my article “Whoever humbles himself like this child” .  These are life experiences, gifts from God, that a celibate clergy is not allowed by the church.  It is hard for people to understand this.  It is painful for me to know this.  His gifts, the closeness to Him, our relationship with and in Him. 

It is not that we do not desire our sons and daughters to be men and women of God, it is very much that we wish them to have the full gifts He offers to us, the gift of helpmate for life. 


“People laugh when I tell them about one lady who was very persistent that I send a priest to her parish. Finally, I said, “Ma’am, I am celibate. I don’t make priests. You and your husband do – your sons, grandsons and nephews. So please give me some priests to send.”
I am deeply troubled when I hear of young men who are interested in the priesthood, but whose parents (even churchgoing parents) are doing everything to discourage them. I would not want such a thing on my conscience.”

I respectfully submit that the reason people laugh is because they cannot believe the words coming out of your mouth.  I know that hurt, (and I am sorry!) but it is true.  It’s not funny, people do not find it funny – we do not find it funny that one would reply to a woman that it is the job of she and her husband to breed and produce males and convince them to live celibate lives which are against the teachings of Jesus Christ, God the father and the Holy Spirit within (most parents). 

I will repeat (I know you may be tired of hearing this but it is true) Celibacy is a requirement by a religious organization. 

Our Father has gifted us with Intellect, emotion, bodies, spirit for marriage with another human being.  Your choice not to have children is not our choice, nor is it a choice we would push upon anyone – it is not for the good of people

One may be deeply troubled, suggesting anyone discouraging a young person from a celibate life as a bad thing to have upon our conscience.  Why would parents encourage their children to forgo a life of family and love, for an institution.  Don’t tell me this is all about God – it is not.  It is not.  Reread everything I have written.  God does not ask for a celibate clergy “.”.  My God is loving, kind and gifts us with so much.  He is not a God that takes the very life out of a human.


Repeating – I know, if you’ve been reading everything I have written, you know there is more than this too!

Genesis 2:18-25

18  The LORD God said: It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suited to him. 19 So the LORD God formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds of the air, and he brought them to the man to see what he would call them; whatever the man called each living creature was then its name.20The man gave names to all the tame animals, all the birds of the air, and all the wild animals; but none proved to be a helper suited to the man.

21 So the LORD God cast a deep sleep on the man, and while he was asleep, he took out one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22The LORD God then built the rib that he had taken from the man into a woman. When he brought her to the man, 23the man said:

This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; This one shall be called ‘woman,’ for out of man this one has been taken.” 24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body. 25 The man and his wife were both naked, yet they felt no shame.


“What can you do? Please be on the lookout in your own family or among parishioners, friends and neighbors for men who would make good priests, deacons or religious brothers, and women who would make good religious sisters. Pray for them (this comes first, as Jesus commanded). Then, when the Spirit provides the opportunity – and I am confident he will, if you are praying – tell that person: “I see qualities in you that I admire in a good priest/sister. Have you ever thought of that option for your life?” This is a compliment, and although the young person may not be able to respond immediately, he or she will surely remember the moment and ponder it privately. It has been shown that a good number of our young people do think about a religious vocation, but no one ever says anything or encourages them, and so they do not pursue it.”

Respectfully suggesting that really is not the right thing to do.  I cannot tell you the number of times I have been told how religious I am and how I should be a nun.  No offense to anyone – and I do live a chaste life, but I am not about to promise my life to a church.  I offer myself and my life to my Father.  This is what Jesus commanded of us.

I witnessed an elderly gentleman in my parish speak to a young man in church back in October.  He used wording very similar to what the Bishop suggests, one  morning mass before Mass.  The young man was attending Mass at 6:30AM in a nearby city, then coming to our town for mass at 8:00AM.  This was not because he is spiritually tied to our Father, or religious.  I have spoken to the young man several times.  The young fellow is under psychiatric care and was diagnosed bi-polar but having issue with his meds.  He was out of work, tried to go back to work but was unable to pull it together.  I know he was out of work for at least eight weeks at the time.

Suggesting a religious life to someone you do not know intimately is probably a bad idea.  Additionally, some of us still pray and hope that God will bless us with that special love.

Michael.

I have brought Michael up before, tonight I am going to share more of this experience.

After my Annulment was finalized and I volunteered to return to teaching Faith Formation (CCD I attended that now perhaps infamous Summer Retreat on Catholicism.

At this retreat, we had discussion time.  A young man, around the age of my youngest son said he was discerning the Priesthood.  I sat there and said nothing, listening.  He was putting a lot of thought into the Celibacy Requirement imposed on Catholic men choosing to serve Christ.  Someone brought up that there were married Roman Catholic Priests, here in our state in fact.  What???  I think this is one of the best kept secrets by the church. 

The young man asked “How could a Priest take care of a parishioner who called with an emergency at 1 o’clock in the morning take care of his family?”  It was very interesting to me to look at the faces in the room most of whom were women (there were also a couple of men) who work at some level for the church, or volunteered as the young men assisting the program were.  Someone spoke up and said what my heart and soul were shouting “You take care of your parishioner, then you go back home and to bed with your wife”.  I felt terribly guilty for a long time because I did not offer the same response, some months later I was able to speak again with  the young man.

After this experience, I found myself reading what I could turn up and talking to others about celibacy, married priests – and learned about how many priest have left the alter.  Once a Priest always a Priest, just as once a baptized Catholic, always a Catholic (even if you are practicing the Jewish faith).

I was invited one Sunday, some time after the program ended – to have lunch with some of the group participants who lived locally.  I did ask and brought along my elder gal who was my side kick on Sunday afternoons (with the exception of the retreat – too long and boring for her, she is in her late 80’s now).  Here, at lunch was Michael.  We as a group were able to talk more to him about his discernment and I encouraged him to get more facts before he leapt.  The leader of the program  seems so hot to push young fellows into becoming Priests.

Michael was surprised to learn that a Priest can and will be moved at the whim of a Bishop without their own choice.  He had the same parish priest for so many years (and being young) assumed it would be his “Home”.  He thought he could pick a local parish.  He “kind of” romanticized the idea of being a Priest.  I am still appalled and perhaps annoyed that the man, who knew better did not share the information with the young man.  We talked more about the married Priests and all (but that man) said there is no reason a Priest cannot be married other than it is their rule.

I have pointed out here, on my web-page that it is not biblical or the will of God to have a celibate clergy.

The last I knew Michael was seeing a young lady, I am not sure what he decided.  If he is at seminary, still contemplating a life as Priest or has moved on in other ways in his life.  I am however grateful that God answered my prayer and offered me an opportunity to sit and talk to Michael a little more, to ensure he would really contemplate any decision.

My next article will discuss some reasons Priests do leave the alter, including some information and quotes from them.  Very humble men.  I think it is important to look at and for the church to really consider these men – who chose to accept the gift of love God offered to them.  They should not have been brushed aside.  How the church knows this loss, knows they will loose more for the same reason is really on them.  Making remarks to married persons that it is our job to breed Priests…. well, that is how it tends to come across.

Let’s look at why the Priests leave next, quotes from former parishioners and all  – for those who are up for it, not for all.

Please use your judgement.

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