Prayer is the light of the soul

This very much a favorite of mine. Though this is a homily, it’s topic is prayer and it fills my heart each time I read it, another who understands – who walked this earth so many years ago.

St John Chrysostom (Hom 6 on Prayer)

A homily of Pseudo-Chrysostom

Prayer is the light of the soul

“The highest good is prayer and conversation with God, because it means that we are in God’s company and in union with him. When light enters our bodily eyes our eyesight is sharpened; when a soul is intent on God, God’s inextinguishable light shines into it and makes it bright and clear. I am talking, of course, of prayer that comes from the heart and not from routine: not the prayer that is assigned to particular days or particular moments in time, but the prayer that happens continuously by day and by night.
Indeed the soul should not only turn to God at times of explicit prayer. Whatever we are engaged in, whether it is care for the poor, or some other duty, or some act of generosity, we should remember God and long for God. The love of God will be as salt is to food, making our actions into a perfect dish to set before the Lord of all things. Then it is right that we should receive the fruits of our labours, overflowing onto us through all eternity, if we have been offering them to him throughout our lives.
Prayer is the light of the soul, true knowledge of God, a mediator between God and men. Prayer lifts the soul into the heavens where it hugs God in an indescribable embrace. The soul seeks the milk of God like a baby crying for the breast. It fulfills its own vows and receives in exchange gifts better than anything that can be seen or imagined.
Prayer is a go-between linking us to God. It gives joy to the soul and calms its emotions. I warn you, though: do not imagine that prayer is simply words. Prayer is the desire for God, an indescribable devotion, not given by man but brought about by God’s grace. As St Paul says: For when we cannot choose words in order to pray properly, the Spirit himself intercedes on our behalf in a way that could never be put into words.
If God gives to someone the gift of such prayer, it is a gift of imperishable riches, a heavenly food that satisfies the spirit. Whoever tastes that food catches fire and his soul burns for ever with desire for the Lord.
To begin on this path, start by adorning your house with modesty and humility. Make it shine brightly with the light of justice. Decorate it with the gold leaf of good works, with the jewels of faithfulness and greatness of heart. Finally, to make the house perfect, raise a gable above it all, a gable of prayer. Thus you will have prepared a pure and sparkling house for the Lord. Receive the Lord into this royal and splendid dwelling — in other words: receive, by his grace, his image into the temple of your soul.”
 

Roll up your sleeves {edited} & open your mind ~ Reflections on rebuilding the church Part VI

Picking up where I left off last in this series, I mentioned we would next take a look at celibacy.  A simplified explanation of this would be to say when being ordained a Diocesan Priest must promise Obedience to the Bishop (and his successors), and a promise of Celibacy.  This does mean taking no wife, in times past it meant no physical relationship.

The history of these practices is centuries old, has changed multiple times over the years and frankly – focus’ far too much on “sex”.  It seems this practice is considered in order to have the Priest place all focus his relationship with God, for the good of all.

Considering all I have written thus far, we know have seen we know this is a man-made requirement, which as I have said has changed many, many times.  This would include a time period where there was married clergy who were told they could not have spousal relations. . . . Right.  Who comes up with these rules?

Here, I am going to look past those days.  Nod an acknowledgement to the lives in which   our current clergy are living and return to stating, it is time for the church to revoke  – across the board – mandatory celibacy.  Based on all of the reasons I have written, based on the reasons I have not detailed such as the child sexual abuse that has and does go on,  the hundreds of thousands of men who have in their quest to serve our Father had to live through this, one way or another, all being emotionally and spiritually scared in one way or another, admit it or not. 

I am going to suggest once again that you go back and read through what I have written, thus allowing me to make new points.

The obvious shortage of catholic clergy is a problem.  Rather than going on the attack and saying laity is living for worldly things consider that perhaps there is wisdom in what they know that you cannot see.  I believe in my heart and soul if this could be acknowledged, the consideration for a married clergy as taught by Jesus is something that can actually strengthen both our clergy our Priests and the laity  – bringing all of us closer to God as one, no divided.

What if it this were allowed – what do I see as happening?

I know there will be human beings who are happy and whole in our Father as taught by Him.  I know that His gifts of love and life are not being turned away from.

How is it taught, that a married couple is remain open to having children – but Priests are to refrain from?  I know I am not the only one who see’s how silly this both sounds – and looks.  I have read another reason being a Priest to remain is to be so closely tied to Jesus for the Eucharist – well, that is not historical, nor is it biblical.  Additionally – what did Jesus tell us?


Last Supper Discourses. 1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. 2In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? 3  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be.  4Where [I] am going you know the way.”* 5Thomas said to him, “Master, we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” 6Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth* and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  7If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”  8Philip said to him, “Master, show us the Father,* and that will be enough for us.” 9Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works. 11Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves.  12Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father. 13And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it.

The Advocate. 15“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate  to be with you always, 14-20 17the Spirit of truth,  which the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows it. But you know it, because it remains with you, and will be in you. 18I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.  19In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me, because I live and you will live.  20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you. 21Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me. And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.”  22Judas, not the Iscariot,  said to him, “Master, [then] what happened that you will reveal yourself to us and not to the world?”  23Jesus answered and said to him, “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him. 24Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me.

25“I have told you this while I am with you. 26The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name—he will teach you everything and remind you of all that [I] told you. 27Peace  I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. 28 You heard me tell you, ‘I am going away and I will come back to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father; for the Father is greater than I. 29And now I have told you this before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe.  30I will no longer speak much with you, for the ruler of the world is coming. He has no power over me, 31but the world must know that I love the Father and that I do just as the Father has commanded me. Get up, let us go.


 19     In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me, because I live and you will live. 

20      On that day you will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you.

21     Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me.

And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.”


I am repeating this because it is important.  Here Jesus tells us when His life passes from the world that believers will know Him and see Him.  We know this now, Christians – He is in our Father, and we are In Jesus and Jesus is in us.  Everyone human who believes.

We are close to Him, we grow closer though His love.  Our Father created us – emotionally, spiritually – and physically to share this love.  Roll up your sleeves (edited) & open your mind ~ Reflections on rebuilding the church Part III not to observe Ascetical Disciplines which include Celibacy Ancient teachings are relative today


The Roman Catholic church has taken many hits – justifiably so for its sexual scandals over the years.  Convents filled with infant skeletons, Clergy suicide (not often spoken of – very hard to research, though I have read about this in relation to the celibacy rule – rather than leave the church being told they were damned to hell, took their own life). God knows these things.  God knows of the child abuse.  Truly – how can one not consider the downswing of the church as God saying “wake up”.

What would a married clergy do for the church?  Allowing men to celebrate their lives in the way God gifted us with.  This does not detract in any way from one’s love or devotion to God.  Yes, there is a risk of a “scandalous” divorce – better that than a child being raped.  Better to be open and honest – and human.  Repeatable by all people.  So this shock and awe of scandal needs to be realized for the falseness that it is.

What would marriage offer a Priest? What it offers every other man – and more.  A helpmate, a partner in life to grow with in God, through life.  Family.  Emotional support and love – every human being deserves as is God-given!  Companionship, a close intimate relationship which challenges Him to grow both as a man, husband and Priest.  Someone to celebrate and to be celebrated though a mutual selfless loveThis Love is God-given – love.

The Pastor now Reverend that I wrote about last night, he and his wife (my friend’s sister does attend this church which is how I heard of it at the time which was within weeks of my shock at the summer retreat.  Their love of each other and family spills forth into their congregation.  People look up to them as role models . . . and that includes his honesty of thinking two weeks into his marriage that his wife wanted to leave him because she came home tired from work and wanted out of her work clothes.  These life experiences are living God and sharing God in life.  A kind reminder that we all have misunderstandings and can learn and grow stronger through them.

My grandparents, oh yes perhaps you think I  put them on a pedestal but in truth they were one of many families that live the same.  Taking responsibility for bringing their grandchildren to God, caring for the poor and widows (more people than you could imagine, and many freely mowed lawns upon granddads retirement!).  Supporting missionaries, active church members, pot luck suppers.  Protestant yes, good Godly role models.  Nana was always waiting in bed for granddad to finish “washing up” before bed, reading her bible which he would join her in.  I was often chased back to bed after being caught reading the “good-news” on the floor by my nightlight.

Married clergy would have an easy time-sharing this type of disciples in the home through homilies, talks with parishioners, group meals or a newsletter or funny story on Facebook.  Yes, this can happen from parishioners in general but you know what?  These life experiences also would help the clergy grow in Him.  After all, He is the One who gifted us with all, is He not?

What closer more intimate relationship could a human have than to be in one with another in God?  Again, God graces us with this love – Love and Joy are  Fruits of the Spirit, celibacy is not.  It’s not listed in the bible.  “.”

What about kids?  Well, here we may run into a few things.  A married couple is to remain open to children.  What happens within any house hold is between God and the couple.  The church approves of Natural Family planning,  no one is going to question a household with only two or three children.  The larger families?  It happens but if they are housed in a home with fewer bedrooms than they think they need, they need to figure out where to put the additional offspring.  Most of us have common sense.

The Catholic church is known for its assets.  It can squeeze some coins together for the overall good and well-being of man and church.  There are properties than can be sold to buy suitable homes for a clergy and family (protestants manage this and they are financially poor in comparison).  Why or how would anyone think that a parish would not be happy to bring in some extra groceries, etc. for the Pastors family?  Why would they not want to do this?  Come on guys…. come up with something else.  Poor excuse.

Education?  Well, the number of parochial schools is dwindling, people cannot afford them.  A public education is fine and I would hazard a guess that the parish religious education department stepped up and was all the stronger and better for it. 

Health insurance?  Really?  Yes, it is expensive however larger groups also pay less money.  If this is going to be one of the cards played – lets throw this back out on the table…

Parishes are shrinking, people are leaving the church, we are told there is a Priest shortage… 

Allow the clergy to marry, have stronger – growing parishes.  Learn new things and love in new ways.  There is a lot more to offer people as a whole when one is able to embrace their entire being, as God gifted us.  Additional clergy also offers more hands to share the work.

I know the idea seems out there to some clergy, not so out there to others.  The fact is clergy are men, placed on earth by God.  Basic human rights to live as God intended by his design not human concept.  Revoke the celibacy requirement for all clergy.  What is anyone really and truly afraid of?  I have read bishops say them men will all go girl crazy – really?  Please, give me a break.  Dignified Priests are not tom cats and should be treated with the respect they deserve, anyone suggesting they all run out the door from the pulpit to chase the first female they see is probably… guilty of that thought.

Some thought and planning would have to take place – of course, but this is not rocket science.  It is – life.  Teaching Courtship not dating (something I discuss with my faith formation class, that clearly they have had no example of).  We’re talking about two adults who want to be committed for life together in God, in the church.  They would be intelligent people, no?

A marriage in God is the union of three.  A married couple selflessly give to each other and in the case of returning God’s gifts allows for a stronger church through this selflessness, witness and example.

It is past time for the church to move forward with change.  It is ridiculous (yes – it really is) to allow a married converted Priesthood and not allow current Priests to marry but force them to leave the Roman Catholic church (many serve other denominations, many remain, some are active in their parishes with their wives, some teach at parochial schools (locally they do!). 

Stop preaching family without celebrating family.  There is no reason to allow one over the other to marry.  It’s all crossing i’s and dotting t’s.

God our Father – already made this clear.  He created human beings for loving, intimate relationships.

One more thing – this mornings reading of Genesis included this “

* [3:16] Toil…pain: the punishment affects the woman directly by increasing the toil and pain of having children. He shall rule over you: the punishment also affects the woman’s relationship with her husband. A tension is set up in which her urge (either sexual urge or, more generally, dependence for sustenance) is for her husband but he rules over her. But see Sg 7:11.  (Foot notes on usccb website – NABRE bible)

Song of Solmen  (Sg) 7:11

11 I belong to my lover,

his yearning is for me.

wedding-pictures-wedding-photos-silver-wedding-rings-pictures-qqq5vA-clipart.jpg

 

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

  Jesus Christ leads priests both in and out of the priesthood.”  

What a profound statement.  This was made by a Priest who left the altar many years ago when he heard the call elsewhere.

Worldwide 120,000 Priests have left the church over the past sixty years.  25,000 here in the United States have left.

There is a serious shortage of Priests, though the church is moving backwards, rather than forward in solving this dilemma.  In Brazil for instance the per the National Catholic Reporter 12/16 they state there are 1,800 Priests – but note they need… ? 100,000 Priests.  Because of this there are rumors the Vatican “may” allow Priests who left for marriage to return to the altar.  They “may” consider it?  What’s up with this?  Priests are no longer needed in Brazil??? – It appears so by indecision that to be the case.  Though, I have some thoughts on this too which I hope to (remember) to cover later today.

One really has to say “what the heck???”

Many of those who have left, have been treated so badly by the church they may not (many do not) wish to return to the altar.  I will add more on that further on in my writing.

There are volumes of rules, regulations, traditions, practices and laws in the Roman Catholic church.

The men at the top of the church have all vowed or promised to remain celibate to their Bishop upon ordination.   In fact, the  only married Roman Catholic Priests are those who have converted from another religion who have families.

Celibacy, actually involves more than not being married, but does vary by individual – regardless – both practices are against the teachings of Jesus Christ – and even St. Paul.  Read back through my articles for that information.

Before I tackle the topic of having married clergy we’re going to take a look at some of the many men who have chosen to leave, why they have left – and what they are doing now.

I am aware that the majority of Catholics are fine with a married clergy, actually I have not had anyone tell me I was crazy or wrong, just “this is the way it has always been done” (which is not accurate at all).  I remember a conversation I had with a Priest one day and he had no patience for talk of one who had left, it was like good riddance though – who knows what rests in their hearts and minds.  In retrospect, it is not a topic they are free to talk about to anyone, including their own peers.  It puts their position at risk from what I have read.

A portion of what I am copy/pasting here is from the above Priests leaving website, I am not sharing the links because I don’t wish to cause any issues for the Priests who run the site and more importantly, some of the topics I ran across there today are of  a very private and sensitive in nature that in respect to any clergy, I do not feel it prudent or necessary to be tossing around.

Lets begin:


Some of the reasons given for leaving may sound surprising and are varied.  One fellow explained a short while after being ordained he thought to stop at McDonald’s for a burger and realized he didn’t have enough money do to so.  To laity a person of that age (at least mid-twenties) is going to have a job that would provide them with a big mac, large fries and a coke (or much more, maybe a meal at Outback).  To be young, and having lived in a rather protected environment, it would be an eye opener.  Pink cloud – vanished, and a thud to the ground.

He was at first assigned to a house and felt like he was being supervised as a child in his personal life and that was not something he expected.  He felt it was an intrusion (it was, wasn’t it?) of any privacy.   Everyone is entitled to having some freedom to come and go, and private space in which to live and spend personal time.  Goodness, as a mom with a seemingly revolving house door – when youngest moved out, middle son moved in (within one month :sigh:).  There are times I feel like I can’t breathe, where I used to go sit in my church to pray – I have given up that practice.  Being cold outside I retreat to my room.  Heaven forbid it be laying on my bed with a blanket, no light for a private conversation with God.  I think I need to sit him down to further explain :)  one does not text a person you have been told is praying.  I digress – we all need a little space.  It is healthy!

Priests however don’t seem to enjoy that freedom.  Goodness the local rectory has had a revolving door on it, Priest home or not.  I would hate that.  I know people who have housekeepers and they stay home when they are there.  – Where I teach Faith Formation is the old rectory.  I have used all of the upstairs classrooms, each of the two where the private quarters of Priests, with tiny bathrooms off to a corner.  One room near the next, big windows, hallway open to offices etc.  No sense of privacy or space.  Perhaps that is to be expected however growing up (and having my own family) living in tight quarters is one thing, having to do this with strangers or persons you may not get along with… Religious or not, can be trying.  Right?

More than once I have read that Priests mostly feel they are owned by the church.  Where they live, the town they live in, what they do (or cannot do) socially.  Below is a section written by a Priest (who left the altar), he may sound … bitter, but we have not lived his experience – right, it also seems as though it may ring true. . .

“Perhaps the real issue is that the Catholic Church presumes to own its priests, like masters who own their slaves.  This is part of the infrastructure that priests are expected to embrace.  Priests are reluctant to complain because, at this point, they have prostrated themselves on the floor in front of their bishops in diocesan cathedrals and monasteries and professed obedience to him as they would to God himself.  All of this has been carefully orchestrated by the hierarchy over centuries to make sure priests understand that they are but pawns in the hands of their bishops, who claim to wield the power of God himself.  This was driven home painfully clear with their demanding a promise of celibacy, by which they proclaim that even the priest’s sexuality is under the control of the Church.  When you are owned sexually, you are owned at the deepest part of your being.”

The following few paragraphs may be challenging for some to read, not initially appreciated but truly are important.  I know I am a woman writing here but I was married and I have three adult sons. 

I know that last part it true.  I believe the requirement for celibacy is a human rights violation and sex abuse of the men.  Yes, they may willingly accept this part of their vocation going in, but I don’t believe it is emotionally or spiritually healthy.  It is really not a choice when one considers accepting this is the only way you will be allowed to be a Priest.

This may not be appreciated, but perhaps should be thought about… if the church is owning a clergies sexuality, – which it is for a fact by requiring abstinence (etc.), how is that any different than my having been raped when I was seventeen?  In both cases our bodies have been taken over by another force in what is an act of emotional and spiritual violence.

God created us with our bodies, He formed us, He made us and He created us the way He did for a reason (and it was not all for procreation). 

Delicate topic, my sincere apologies but I think something very much worth considering.  There is nothing about our loving Father that asks, requests  – or tells us to give that gift away and allow others to control such an intimate part of ones heart, mind and soul.  God’s gift.  Not to squander, as the fellow who noted in my Universalis readings – but a gift to enjoy with the helper (spouse) He has created for all.  ~ His grace.


It seems quite often younger priests will leave due to the above complaints, no longer feeling like an individual at all but part of the group, as told to them by hierarchy.

Priests who awaken to realize how far the Church has intruded into their personal lives often find themselves frustrated.  In time, many of them discover the freedom to live their lives in a way they feel called by God, which means that they must leave the priesthood.  Is this selfish?  Is it sinful?  No, it’s part of their maturing in faith and taking responsibility for their lives.  Their journey in, through and with Christ will continue, albeit on a different path than the one prescribed for them by the hierarchy and its medieval institution.” 

Here there is quite a bit stated on false teachings of Catechism etc.   In my limited research online (limited in part because web-page after web-page, testimony after testimony) seemed to say very similar things.  Required vows, promises and teachings required did not follow Bible teachings, once the bible was studied.  I am leery of reading too much of it myself right now – I don’t want to “go there”, and it pulls me away from the already complicated issues I am writing about.  In as much as I am trying to protect others in what I write, I am also trying to protect my own self from the harsher things out there.

The short of it is – many leave because they feel things they have learned over time are not things they can live with or teach as a matter of honesty and integrity.


At this point I am going to “introduce” you to a few lives of Priests who left the church and later married.  It is a very hush-hush topic, many have been taught they’d go to hell and take their lady-love with them.  This is not true, that is not our Father.  I do believe what I quoted above so I am going to use that here;

  Jesus Christ leads priests both in and out of the priesthood.”  

We’ve all heard stories about Priests how have left the altar to marry.  Right?  The church I received my own limited catechism prior to receiving my first sacraments had a priest leave – I think he married a nun.  My parish had a priest who married a kindergarten teacher (and somebody important at my parish sang at their civil ceremony which was later con-validated in the church after his laicizaiton process).  the wedding ceremony was very small, in the brides living room. I share this because it is important to show, when possible that other people see the Priest as a man, and are happy for them should they find love and choose to marry.  Love and marriage is not taboo among the laity.   My elder ladies sister has a neighbor who was a priest (and nun) who married oh and my friend from France, when I met her sister I learned  there are two married priests in her very small town –  her sisters minister is also a priest who left to marry, we’ll start with a bit about him.slide_13


JP after serving 23 years active ministry as a Roman Catholic Priest chose in  1990  to part ways with the church citing dissatisfaction with the direction the church was moving in. Some months later he married his wife L, has two adult stepson’s and three grandchildren.  His first job in his new life was as a therapist for three years.  A woman who came into his office had him invited to her church as a “fill in”.  At first he was concerned because he was not in good standing with the RCC, later gave it a chance and ended up becoming a minister in the UCC.  After beginning with a congregation of fifty that grew to 500, he retired after fifteen years.  Six months later he was called to take on the small church in the northwest corner as a the Reverend (part time).  I listened to his homily twice years ago when I first heard of him.  It was interesting to hear as he still seemed to follow the mass readings but his new life enabled him to put a new spin on sermons.  One that made me laugh (and cry) was the story of how he had been married for just two weeks, was not working yet, feeling in a dark place and Louise came home in from work and up the stairs to their bedroom she went (to get out of her work clothes!)  He said she just flew right by me, no hug or kiss.  I thought this is it, it’s over – she wants a divorce.  His openness at sharing such an intimate time in his life, truth that he was a catholic priest now congregational minister (and it seems many in his congregation were catholics who left the church) was honest, raw and worked into the lesson for that day.  Sweet too is that his wife is right there in church with him and he addresses her (or vise versa) during service in such a loving way.  I remember hearing that the UCC church he first served at hosted a 50th anniversary party for the Reverand for his service, this combined his years in active ministry as a Roman Catholic Priest and Protestant Minister.  One piece of news I ran across on google as I write this is that three persons who worked at his parish as he left the Catholic church were fired for participating in his civil ceremony marriage.  That was the ruling of the archbishop at that time as they were participants (readers and such) not guests.  A chance they took.


Though there are many, I will share just one more.  I chose this one because it offered a lot of information, which is hard to find because of the nature of the topic . . .

on March 21, 2010 at 9:15 PM, updated March 24, 2010 at 11:54 AM

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The Rev. Tom Farley, a priest for almost 30 years and pastor St. Clare Catholic Parish in Southwest Portland for the past nine, celebrated his last Mass Sunday. Farley sent a letter to parishioners last week, saying he was leaving the priesthood because he could “no longer live the celibate life.” The Rev. Tom Farley looked at packed pews Sunday morning and made a promise.”There is an elephant in the room,” Farley said as Mass began at St. Clare Catholic Church in Southwest Portland. “But we’ll talk about it later — after Communion. “

He was referring to the letter he’d sent to the congregation last week, which detailed why these Sunday Masses would be his last as a priest.

“I leave because of a private longing in my heart and soul that I have ignored or suppressed to my detriment,” he wrote in the letter.

“I love priestly ministry but I cannot live this life of celibacy.” Farley, ordained in 1979.


Here is another, more insightful story/interview with the same priest.
Portland priest shares journey that led him out of Catholic priesthood, into a new life

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Almost five months ago, Tom Farley left the Catholic priesthood and the Southwest Portland parish he’d served for nine years because, he now admits, he’d fallen in love and refused to walk away from the relationship.

“I have loved being a priest and working as a priest,” he wrote in a March 17 letter to 1,200 St. Clare parishioners and about a third of the 150 priests in the Archdiocese of Portland. “But the celibate lifestyle has become more and more difficult for me, and more and more damaging to my ability to be a whole person.”

Farley, 57, a priest for 30 years, served his last Masses in March. The services were packed with parishioners and friends, many who said they were surprised by his letter. Some said they were happy for Farley and sad for their church. Others blamed the Catholic Church requirement that priests be celibate for the loss of a priest they adored. A few were frustrated that he was leaving so close to Easter, when Christians believe Jesus rose from the dead.

Farley did not linger after those final services to talk with worshipers. Each time Mass ended, he slipped out a door behind the altar. He returned to the parish several days later to say and receive individual goodbyes. At times, he says, the line of parishioners stretched outside the church offices and into the parking lot.

The weeks since have been busy for Farley. He spent days writing thank-you notes and responding to e-mails from friends and former parishioners. He read about crafting a résumé and looking for work. He applied and interviewed for jobs. Now he’s preparing to move. He’s been hired as executive director of the American Red Cross chapter in Bend, a job he begins Monday.

The feelings that prompted him to leave the priesthood led to a romantic relationship and, now, an engagement. In an interview, Farley refused to name his fiancée but talked about his years as a priest, the process that led him to give it up and the life he’s embraced since he left. He chose his words carefully, sometimes laughing at himself. Twice he was moved to tears — as he talked about his best friends, who still are Catholic priests.

Q: Why did you become a priest?   

A: I was raised a Catholic, and my faith was important to me. But, like most teenagers, it was less important for a while. During my freshman year at Oregon State, I went on a retreat sponsored by the Newman Center — in February 1972. We were asked to surrender our lives to God, to Jesus, and I did that. And then the next question was, “Lord, what do you want me to do?” The idea of the priesthood came to me. As a sophomore, I transferred to Mount Angel Seminary. I did OK, academically, socially.

But I guess the real reason I became a priest is I wanted to serve.

Q: How do you describe your 30 years as a priest?

A: Rich. The thing that I always come back to is there’s this incredible honor as a priest — being invited into the middle of people’s relationship with God. It’s an intimate place. It’s a privilege. When I think back over my 30 years, I’m very grateful.
Some men leave the priesthood bitter or angry.
Some guys really do. I am not.

Q: Why did you leave?

A: I fell in love. Early on. More than once. People are attractive and I am not a dolt. I’d ask myself, “Am I going to explore this relationship, risk my priesthood to explore this?” and I always said no and ran away. There was this background of loneliness — and I know that loneliness is existential, that we’re all alone and I don’t believe that a partner can take that away. But romantic love was never an option.

Q: What changed for you?

A: I’d had a long relationship, a friendship with a woman. And last summer, I realized that I loved her, that I loved someone again. I don’t quite know why, but this time I said I’m not going to run away, to shut the door. Maybe it was a midlife crisis. Maybe it was loneliness. Maybe it was the boredom of doing the same thing over and over.

I got a good counselor and talked to my spiritual director. The three of us worked for almost four months to unpack this love. It was a very intentional discernment.

Q: Did you have sex with her?

A: No! We decided from Day One not to have an affair and to remain chaste. I must say that this is an unfair question, like celibacy and marriage are all about having or not having sex. To me they are about exclusive partnerships or unions. For the celibate priest, chastity is with everyone so that he/she can be for THE one, God alone. A chaste celibate life can make this “attention” and exclusivity more explicit. The married person is called to chastity with all except their spouse. I’ve met few folks where sex addresses their real loneliness. I have to say the loneliest people I’ve met are those that share a bed but not their hearts.

Q: When did you meet with Portland Archbishop John G. Vlazny?

A: I met with him in January and asked him, “What do you think I should consider?” He treated me like a brother. He was sensitive, thoughtful and generous. He said he respected me, that he wanted me to stay as a priest, but he didn’t want to put up roadblocks.

farleypark.JPG As part of his work organizing youth activities at New Columbia, Farley spends time with (from left) Divine Nijimbere, 7, and Christian Daniel, 6.

Q: Was there a moment when you knew what you wanted to do?
I remember driving home from my counselor and it came to me: “I am going to leave the priesthood.” It was a little scary — it had been scary from Day One. But something in me felt released. I had done all this work. I had a parachute and I could jump.

Q: Who did you tell first?

A: I called my sister. I called my little brother, who’s 13 years younger. I said, “I’m leaving the priesthood and I need to find a place to live.” He said, “What did you say?” We met for lunch and he helped me.

My family was surprised. Members of the parish were shocked.

Q: How did you decide when to leave?

A: It was very important to me, too important maybe, that my leaving St. Clare would be as least hurtful as possible. I wanted to think about that more than where I was going next.

The archbishop and I met again in mid-February. We thought it would be better to leave in June, when the archdiocese reassigns priests. But once I’d made the decision, I couldn’t wait. It was too hard to live two lives. The second best option was to leave before Holy Week. The point of Holy Week is the mystery of God bringing new life out of the old.

Q: You’ve often said your best friends were other priests. How did they respond to your decision?

A: They were conflicted. Nobody was overjoyed at my leaving the priesthood. We are all team players — I’ve always thought of myself as a member of the diocesan team. No one wanted to manipulate me, but they weren’t encouraging me, either. I’ve lost some friends over it. One told me that there was a chasm now between us that he couldn’t reach across.

Q: Was it difficult to write your letter to the parish?

A: 
few fellow priests helped me write it. I wrote three drafts. I think it was a gift from God, because I’m a terrible writer and I think it was well written.

Q: How did you feel during your last weekend of Masses?

A: I won’t say it was fun. But all the work had been done. I was very present and relaxed at the services. I was very touched by people’s affection. My parents and members of my family came to the last service and sat in the front row. By the end of the services, I was tired but animated. I invited my family to my new house — between Thursday and Saturday, I had moved out of the rectory — for a barbecue. There was a lot of affection; they had been worried about me. I felt grateful, and proud.

Q: How did you support yourself?

A: I lived on my savings, as cheaply as I could. I got a part-time job working with Neighborhood House in a new partnership with the Housing Authority of Portland. I’ve been organizing programs for youth in the pocket parks of New Columbia, where I’ve been living.

Q: What do you miss, now that you’re no longer a priest?

A: I have no regrets. I don’t miss preaching. There is no pining inside me. In my bones, I have a real respect for what the church and her priests are trying to do.

Q: What about this woman that you fell in love with? What role did she play in your discernment?

A: We had been friends for a long time. When I told her I could no longer dance around my feelings for her, she was caught off guard. We set up new boundaries, agreed to less contact with each other. She agreed to support me emotionally in my discernment process.

Once I’d left the parish, we started dating and began seeing a counselor. I just asked her to marry me, and she accepted. I’ve also written to the archbishop and asked him to begin the process of releasing me from my vows. That could take a long time.

Q: Do you still consider yourself a Catholic?

A: I always will be. The church might be screwy, but she’s still my mother. We’ve attended St. Andrew’s parish a few times, but right now, we feel untethered. What was is gone, what’s coming isn’t here yet. But I’m confident we’ll end up in a Catholic community.


Why do these stories matter?  They are all of mature men who have served the Roman Catholic church for 25 years or more.  They are honest, true and sadly they had to make a choice to leave the altar.

The church looses priests because of their refusal to deal with their required celibacy teaching.  The Priests were given a choice – remain unhappy and celibate, or accept the love that God graced them with. 

Many unhappy men remain in the church, I cannot begin to explain why perhaps in part they have not been blessed with real love.  There is life for those who leave, and I do believe stories like this matter.

It took a lot of courage to share their stories and make their voices heard.  So far their lives haven’t changed anything within the church.  Does the church need more stories – or can it mature, grow up and let their priests live life as God intended?


There are various resources for Priests leaving and who have left.  There are tens of  thousands of them living; lives, love,  God, service , with wives, some now with children of their own, some past the age (or their wives are) but blessed with grandchildren though stepchildren,  jobs and new lives here in the US.

It is a shame and perhaps a Sin when one considers the greatest commandments, that an institution would push a man to have to make and agonizing  choice between  the walls of an institution –  and a love that only God can grace one with.  Really – is not godly is it?  No.

CORPUS (AFFIRMING AN INCLUSIVE PRIESTHOOD, ROOTED IN A REFORMED AND RENEWED CHURCH) is one group of former clergy that offer membership, support and unity.  They have a website http://www.corpus.org/index.php/member-services/9-career-transition-management and blog.  Keep current on church news, but seeking change in the church and have chosen to work from the outside > in, while living life out of the box.  There are meetings, ministries, brotherhood.  Free (clickable) books).  There are links within that list Priests by state.  Clearly, not all Priests who have stepped down feel the need of joining an organization.  Different things work for different people


It’s not easy to look at all sides, it is important to try or we can’t properly analyze things.

 

 

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.

Roll up your sleeves (edited) & open your mind ~ Reflections on rebuilding the church Part III

“In my judgment, the crisis is not just a crisis of religious vocations, whether Catholic or Protestant. It is a crisis of life-long commitment – the irrevocable “gift of self” – which is at the heart of every Christian vocation, including marriage and the family. People are increasingly afraid to make this gift.
To the extent that today every vow can be broken with impunity in the name of personal freedom, people become very wary of commitments. It takes more courage and faith than it once did for a person to make a lifelong commitment to marriage, priesthood or the convent. When you consider our increasing life span, there is also a realization that this commitment is not just for 20 or 30 years, but 50 or 60.”

I disagree.  What about Jesus.  Yes, I am going there, my favorite place and truly the place we need to focus.  Jesus was presented at the Temple as a Jewish child, He taught faith, was called a Rabbi – but for a man committed as a child and youth to the Jewish faith – he changed.  His way was radical – our Father called Him elsewhere.

The number of men who have chosen to  leave the Priesthood (120,000 men world wide in the past 60 years, 25,000 in the United States) does not indicate lack of commitment.  First of all – God did not call for a celibate clergy, this is all a man made idea so let’s put that right out there on the table.  We are to follow God first, why the church has managed to carry this practice on for so long without an uprising is beyond me, though I do get the “boys club” idea.  Tons of peer pressure.  Don’t tell me that pressure does not exist.  I read one article just tonight that stated when  Priest went to his spiritual advisor to discuss a woman the Priestly Spiritual Advisor told the Priest he and the woman would both be damned for all eternity.  More than a tad bit over-dramatic and completely NOT true.  So, maybe, just maybe this downturn in numbers is God’s way of saying “wake up”, do it my way!!!

God created us out of love  ~ for love. 

This mornings mass readings  (2.7.17) certainly point two things out that this “man-made rule” disregards; 


Genesis 1:27

God created mankind in his image;

in the image of God he created them;

male and female he created them.


Let’s skip ahead just a bit, same book – different Chapter:


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.


Nowhere there, in the very first book of the bible does God say “I created man and woman to serve me, by promising Bishops or other clergy that they will remain celibate in order to serve me, their God.

No.  God tells us in this book that He created Eve from and for Adam who was alone.  He goes on to teach us that a man leaves his parents and he and his woman shall become one in Him.

Who’s confused?  Not me.

Now then – Second reading of the day – Holy Gospel according to St. Mark


St. Mark 7:1-13

When the Pharisees with some scribes who had come from Jerusalem
gathered around Jesus,
they observed that some of his disciples ate their meals
with unclean, that is, unwashed, hands.
(For the Pharisees and, in fact, all Jews,
do not eat without carefully washing their hands,
keeping the tradition of the elders.
And on coming from the marketplace
they do not eat without purifying themselves.
And there are many other things that they have traditionally observed,
the purification of cups and jugs and kettles and beds.)
So the Pharisees and scribes questioned him,
“Why do your disciples not follow the tradition of the elders
but instead eat a meal with unclean hands?”
He responded,
“Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites,
as it is written:

This people honors me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines human precepts.

You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition.”
He went on to say,
“How well you have set aside the commandment of God
in order to uphold your tradition!
For Moses said,
Honor your father and your mother,
and Whoever curses father or mother shall die.
Yet you say,
‘If someone says to father or mother,
“Any support you might have had from me is qorban”‘
(meaning, dedicated to God),
you allow him to do nothing more for his father or mother.
You nullify the word of God
in favor of your tradition that you have handed on.
And you do many such things.”


The truth is here.  It is written through many of my pages of articles.  I will continue to write more on this over the next few days.

Christians are to be committed to doing the works of Jesus Christ, serve our Trinitarian God.  No one has to promise or make a vow that actually does go against the very teachings of Jesus Christ – and as in Genesis our Father, Godhead.  here in Mark – Jesus Lord and Savior.

No one should want to be “committed” to a life of celibacy.  It is not what God wants.  It is against what God has taught.  It is time to revoke this vow or promise.  It is time for Bishops to stand up to this and do what is right.  A married clergy is what Jesus Christ taught, love and marriage are the true gifts from God.  The church add’s “Fruits of the Spirit” to their list that is not biblical.  Celibacy is not a true gift of the spirit – it is not, this is why so many struggle, hurt.  It is not kind, loving or godly to continue this practice. 

This is not about only allowing long time married Deacons to become Priests.  This is not about only about allowing Evangelicals to become Roman Catholic Priests.  This is not only about allowing married Priests to return to the altar (certainly not as a “test” as suggested in Brazil – just let it happen!). This is about human rights!  This is about allowing good, God loving men to have their “helpmate” in life, their life partner as God intended and intends.

There was a time and place where we innocently believed things we were told.  Unfortunately this is still the case for many.  I need not delve into articles and write a litany of details but it is a known fact that this is an inhumane requirement.  Being human, many fail.  The church has its horrible record of child abuse, homosexual priests, priests who seek out prostitutes, I’ve heard of one who had an affair with a married man – and children walked in on the act. There are Priests with concubines and lovers.  There are Priests who leave, marry  and still serve in an “illicit” (without permission)  manner.

Clergy are gentle, loving human beings. Committing to serve God should be enough.  In order to serve our Father as clergy, a man should never, ever have to promise another man that they will never have a wife.

God created human beings for love, to be loved and to give love.  Each and every one of us.  Have you not read Psalm 139?  God does not create to cause pain and harm.  Our Father is a loving Father.

It’s time our church became His loving church.  They way Jesus Christ Designed, with His original 12.


Reflecting since last night, on this portion of this article, I would like to readdress “commitment” .

I was married for twenty years before I left my ex husband and filed for divorce.  I went through the very long process of annulment in which I felt unsafe.  My children were also concerned for my welfare, my oldest son living out-of-state told me to get a gun and not be afraid to use it, he was that afraid.  That is something I did not do, nor have any plans on doing.  I share that in order to share the fear of my children over my welfare.  Because my request for nullity was granted, I don’t feel compelled to write more about my “marriage” today.  Clearly, I proved my commitment to making it work through my annulment and was able to show why it did not work, though that was not easy.  I feel in my heart, mind and soul that God brought me to the annulment process and through it for His good.  

I know what commitment is.  I am committed.

My role models growing up were;  my paternal grandparents, my father’s family has a very long history of loving, committed marriages.  Something we should all aspire for, something that has eluded me in life, but I know of such marriages and commitment for better or worse, sickness and good health, past till death do us part as my own grandmother did not move on after my grandfather passed.  They were forever entwined in God’s love.

Harshness  is suggested in mentioning a lack of commitment in  men who want to become priests, and men who choose to leave the altar for marriage.  The same is suggested for religious life.  I believe as we evolve as human beings, as communication has become easier (and – I offer that is provided by our Father too) we learn more about our Father, life – and love. 

A few short years ago – two now?  A classmate was visiting from France.  She had grown up here through middle school.  Her Papa moved the children back to his homeland after the death of her mother.  One thing she wanted to do while here was to meet up with a Catholic Brother whom she met and played online games with.  I was invited to join the two along with her sister over two days.  I had just recently heard of the married Roman Catholic Priests,  the girls had an uncle who was  Priest in France and conversation ensued.

Now in his early 50’s as we were, he shared his childhood, death of his mother when he was in his teens and turning to the church at that time.  He entered the brotherhood, was a teacher in a Parochial school until recently when his health became so bad he was no longer able to work and considered terminal.  He said as a young man he entered the religious life with eyes on God and not mortal life, but the realities of being a man hit him as he aged.  He remained celibate with the comfort of a bottle (which in time became the reason for the decline of his health).  He said it was a poor choice and something he was sorry for, wistful for the wife and children he never had ,and was now too sick to make any sort of change he stayed put.  A sad life.

I read a story of a woman in her late 30’s one day over the last year or so.  She had decided to become a “Bride of Christ”.  I clicked on the article and was completely appalled at the idea – you cannot “marry” Jesus.  For one thing – he may have been married.  Another thing, the man died and did not ask you to marry him.  Right?  Right.  The Bride of Christ is supposed to be the church.  

I think what is being missed here perhaps by many in the church is this – the majority of Christians are committed to Jesus at the level in which they can be.  I do not believe a woman who participates in a ceremony (wedding gown and all) is anymore mystically bound to Jesus or our Trinitarian God than I am, though we may live different lives.  Scriptures teaches us – right from Genesis on that God created human beings for each other, to mate (join with), support, love – become one in Him.

A shortage of Religious is in no way indicative of a lack of commitment to our Father.  What it is, is proof that people have grown away from medieval teachings.  Men and women no longer have to live in monasteries or convents – which going back hundreds of years, where places quite often (not always) a means of living for those  orphaned, destitute etc. 

Focus should and could be on strengthening human relationships, marriage for all who are called to it, religious, clergy etc.  Allow human beings to live as God ordained, not man-made rules.  Protestants teach single people to grow in God and pray to God to guide you to a spouse that will bring you closer to him.  This is what the church should do, bring all people together as couples in Him.  That is where the strength and growth are, for men, women, families  – and the church. 

Rather than judging human beings and their commitments,  look at what you are asking people to be or stay committed to. A woman is not married to Jesus, he is not her husband, they will not consummate their marriage in any way, have children, share a home or grow old holding hands.  A man is not married to the church (.), a man cannot really be bound to a Bishop or church.  Neither scenario offers a commitment from the other side.  We do not need to take a vow to Jesus because he brings us to the Father,the Father gifts us with the Holy Spirit (all of us!).  See – that, this vow/marriage idea (that is not with another human being as God designed) doesn’t really make a bit of sense.  Bishops change, they are not a life partner!  They offer no comfort to a man – who hasn’t read Genesis? ? ?

God does not call us to be committed by vow or promise to the church.  Our loving father certainly does not suggest anyone remain celibate for Him.  That is totally and institutional idea – and it is time to correct this, or more will walk away and follow Him.  What will be, will be.  It is not that the hierarchy has not seen this coming, will they correct their ways?


Repeating. . .

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.

~

He responded,
“Well did Isaiah prophesy about you hypocrites,
as it is written:

This people honors me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines human precepts.

You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition.”
He went on to say,
“How well you have set aside the commandment of God
in order to uphold your tradition!

You nullify the word of God
in favor of your tradition that you have handed on.
And you do many such things.”

Nowhere there, in the very first book of the bible does God say “I created man and woman to serve me, by promising Bishops or other clergy that they will remain celibate in order to serve me, their God.

No.  God tells us in this book that He created Eve from and for Adam who was alone.  He goes on to teach us that a man leaves his parents and he and his woman shall become one in Him.

Who’s confused?  Not me.

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

“Some people argue that if only we did away with the celibacy requirement or ordained women to the priesthood our problems would be over. The reality is that in the United States, not only Eastern Orthodox Churches but Protestant churches with married and/or women clergy are also facing difficulties. Recently, one of the most prestigious Protestant seminaries in the country, Andover Newton, announced plans to sell its 20-acre suburban Boston campus. Since 2005, enrollment at mainline Protestant seminaries has fallen by nearly 24 percent. Many of their traditional recruitment networks for clergy have broken down. Like Catholics, Protestants have many people interested in volunteering for part-time or short-term “lay ministry,” but fewer people are interested in giving their lives full-time and permanently to the ordained ministry.”

Pew Forum – Changing Religious Landscape

Christians Decline as Share of U.S. Population; Other Faiths and the Unaffiliated Are Growing


These changes will certainly be reflected in the enrollment of Seminaries.  However, perhaps it is also fair to point out, there are still more Protestant Clergy.  Read the latest  Pew Report

I am having a problem finding statistics on Protestant Seminarian enrollment, however I did find one article (the most recent 2011) stating there is a Clergy Surplus among Protestant churches.  By nature many are smaller congregations. Growing up I know many worked as Pastors part-time along with another choice of employment i.e. the church my grandparents brought me to had a white collar Pastor. He still happily made it to mid-week bible study, picnics and potluck dinners, weddings and funerals.  A smaller group, more easy to be part of a community and socialize with.

I digress.  More of that later.

I would like to point out the link above title Pew Report does show some rather revealing statistics on what members of different religions and denominations believe i.e. in God, Heaven, Hell, True Right and Wrong, Same Sex marriage.  Perhaps a good study, especially on the first few listed, would enlighten clergy on what needs to be addressed and taught more in churches.  My favorite – God, seems to be missing from too many.  Once again, I digress.  Best left for another article.

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

The next three or four articles are a series in which I will quote an Arch Bishop then address his writings with my thoughts.  I’d love a one on one but the truth is, even if that were offered – I can better formulate my thoughts and facts sitting here with my Father.

I will show his exact words from a publication written in October but rather than sharing his name, quotation marks will be all that indicates his words. 

This issue at hand currently is pretty much a national/worldwide issue.  There is a shortage of Priests.  Much thought (money) and time has been going into pastoral planning.  There are answers, ones the gentlemen at the top appear to take issue with really contemplating.

“In the year 1965, there were almost 46 million Catholics in the United States served by a total of 58,632 priests. Today, there are over 70 million Catholics with fewer than 38,000 priests whose average age is increasing rapidly. In 1965, there were 535 active priests in the Archdiocese of ___. As of 2015, there were 186, a decrease of 65 percent. This sobering number is one of the reasons why our archdiocese has begun a process of pastoral planning.”

My thought on this is – why so long fellas?  Poor planning and lack of ability to really look this over and take on … change?  I think the answer to this is a resounding yes.


“Jesus says: “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest” (Mt 9:37f, Lk 10:2). Although Jesus often drew great crowds, his mission, by worldly standards, was not a success. Rather, to all appearances it ended in ignominy and failure. Yet Jesus knew that the seeds of the kingdom he had planted in human hearts would bear fruit once his earthly mission was accomplished.”

Frankly, I am not quite sure why one would suggest an apparent failure in the work of Jesus and the original 12.  God had His plan, He knew what He was doing.  Clearly.  I am sure I must be misunderstanding the intent of that statement. 

Regardless – something big is being overlooked in this statement.


“And in the Gospel according to John, Jesus says: “I tell you, lift up your eyes and see how the fields are already white for harvest” (4:35). If you want the truth of these words to be miraculously revealed before your very eyes, go stand on the altar platform at a World Youth Day, most recently in Poland, and see what a million young people at Mass looks like. The fields are white for harvest.”

If that’s the way you look at it. There is a huge difference in the number of faithful worshiping God and wishing to see the Pope, and the number of Priests.  In fact a quick google search shows the number of men in seminaries as declining – rapidly in Poland

In 2015, 3,571 seminarians were preparing for the priesthood,

in 1990 – 8,122, in 1998 – 6,673,

in 2002 – 6,737,

and in 2006 – 6,038.

In 2015/2016, 748 candidates to the priesthood entered seminaries, which year-on-year was 7% less in diocesan seminaries and 2% less in seminaries of religious orders.”

Pope in Poland Press Center


“In the Catholic Church  {United States} , the total number of priests has declined from 58,534 in 1981

to 52,227 in 1991,

45,713 in 2001 and 37,192 in 2015 (a 36 percent loss between 1981 and 2016).


Requirements for celibacy, poverty and obedience may be factors. In every other group, including denominations in which membership has declined (e.g., the Episcopal and Evangelical Lutheran churches), the total number of clergy has increased.[5]”

Priest shortage in the Catholic Church


This is not going to solve itself.  Closing and reorganizing Parishes is not a solution, it is merely a band-aid.  If memory serves me correctly, a vast majority of Catholics did not even participate in the last questionnaire given out by my local archdiocese.  An overall look at Christianity needs to be embraced and a shift to this decade needs to take place.  Squeaky wheels may move but a good majority of those squeaky wheels also rust and sit useless in junkyard across the world.

So – what to do?

Roll up your sleeves, unbutton your collar, yank your hair up in a pony tail (me) :)  and get to work.

We need to start with a really open and honest look at the Celibacy requirement of the Roman Catholic Church.  This is a “rule” of sorts, not law, not doctrine.  No disrespect intended – but it has outlived it’s purpose, of which many are uncertain to begin with.  St. Paul’s idea that Jesus was returning -> 2,000 years ago is the common reply and that is by educated Roman Catholics, not just me.  Many also recognize this was set in place to deal with greedy clergy of historic times who owned property, handed this down to their offspring etc.  Quite unlike Jesus Christ.  Perhaps with those ancient ideas??? But no.  I’m not buying it.  Why?  It is absolutely not what Jesus taught – the foundation He built.

Man intervened and messed this all up.  It’s time to clean up, and truly repair lives – no more band-aids!

Sleeves rolled up yet? 

Part II soon to follow . . . (this evening).