Guest rant about priests and then Fr. Z rants about priests

Our friend at Recovering Dissident Catholic, "Cathy of Alexandria" has a particularly good rant, which I feature here (with edits) as a "guest rant".  My emphases and comments.

A good priest is hard to find. Heck, a PRIEST can be hard to find.

I "do process" for a living but there are times you just need flexibility around the process so you can just jump to the terminator.

Death and serious illness are one of those times.

[...]

There is too much of an effort these days to give lay people more control over the administration of the sacraments then they should. There is a huge difference between a parish administrator role and the priest. The parish administrator or business adminstrator or office secretary should not be controlling access to Father to the point that they are, in essence, stonewalling people under the guide of "not wanting to bother Father with more stuff"

For instance, and this has loooong been a source of anger for me, you want FATHER to visit a loved one in the home or in the hospital or in the nursing home and the immediate response of the ‘gatekeeper’ in the parish is: "I’ll send one of our LAY ministers" There are times where, I’m sorry, I just don’t WANT a lay minister. I want a PRIEST. I get even more furious if they continue on and get down to it: "Father doesn’t DO those types of calls" WTH?

[...]

We’ve probably all know (well, I do) of priests who are surprised to hear that people can’t access him when he’s needed because Father had no idea the office was pushing folks away from him. Father ends up giving his cell phone number and PERSONAL email address out so people can bypass the "office". Is that acceptable? It’s ridiculous. [Especially with our new tools of communication.]

In my opinion, the authority in the parish, the last word, the COO, is the pastor. God is the CEO and ultimate word. The pretenders can all go home. I know it’s harsh. There it is[And when they do, Father will be even less available because he will also have their work to do.]

More and more people are bypassing the church weddings and funerals in favor of doing them at commercial wedding chapels and funeral home entirely. The commercial business world has figured out something we forgot: Give the people what they want AND what they need.

 

We need more vocations to the PRIESTHOOD.

Since one good rant deserves another, here is a little rant of my own.

Let’s be careful about prayers for vocations.

At times we should pray strictly for vocations to the priesthood. PRIESTHOOD!   Deacons are great, but they are not priests.   Religious women are great, but they are not priests.  Religious men are find, but that is its own vocation.  Married people are wonderful, but with a super small number of exceptions it is morally tedious to recount, they are not priests.

Often prayers for "vocations" are all lumped together, probably so as to avoid one of the great modern mortal sins: not being inclusive. 

Fine.  Do that.  Pray for "vocations".

But let us pray for PRIESTS…. priestly vocations… vocations to the PRIESTHOOD.

And another thing… this is the Year for Priests.  Yet I see this project and that effort for prayer for bishops, seemingly all the time.   Great!  Pray for bishops.  Bishops are priests too.    Bishops need constant prayers.  I too am constantly telling people, imploring people to pray for our bishops, upon whom so much depends.  I pray for a list of bishops after every Mass.   But can priests have their year?  Please?  We pray for bishops all the time.  It seems like every year is the year for bishops, right?  At every Mass we pray for bishops by name, for heaven’s sake!   

Okay… I must get back to work.

Thus endeth the rant.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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47 Responses to Guest rant about priests and then Fr. Z rants about priests

  1. In my opinion, the authority in the parish, the last word, the COO, is the pastor. God is the CEO and ultimate word. The pretenders can all go home. I know it’s harsh. There it is. [And when they do, Father will be even less available because he will also have their work to do.]

    What about when their work consists primarily in adding to his burdens — particularly, the burden of his responsibility before God for the souls of his flock, who are suffering neglect on account of the pretenders who keep them away from their pastor?

    I can see her point here. We have a local parish that for many years has been the subject of an “experiment,” backed by the bishop, where the lay people (allegedly) run the parish, and the priest is not the pastor, but a sort of sacrament dispenser. It is nothing short of spiritual vivisection. The disorder in this parish is so profound as to permeate the very architecture and furnishings. I do not know how the holy priest who is stationed there — and he is a holy priest — can bear all the obstacles that stand in the way of his ministry. And it is the result of lay people wanting to exercise his authority (without, of course, bearing his responsibility before God). These same people would squeal like stuck pigs if the priest were to come and try to take over the running of their households; but that would be no different than what they are now doing to him.

    It seems to me that the best way for the laity to be the partner of our priests’ labor is (a) pray for them; (b) respect them and obey their lawful authority; (c) restrict ourselves to taking care of administrative tasks, and quit stepping on their turf. That way, they can concentrate on their ministry and on the life of prayer that they need to sustain their ministry.

  2. deborah-anne says:

    Yes, Yes, Yes! Let us pray for vocations to the Priesthood. Amen Father Z. And, for those of us who can, let us adopt a seminarian or priest. They need love, support and encouragement. And, how they really enjoy a good home cooked meal!

  3. homeschoolofthree says:

    I love my priest. I spend a lot of time with him along with my family. He needs a gatekeeper. People not only want access to him for liturgical needs, but for everything! Dishes break in the church kitchen…Father must know immediately! Never mind it is Sunday morning and he has masses and confession. So and so posted something offensive about me on facebook…gotta call Father in the middle of the night! I agree that too much has been left to lay people; however, Father needs a bit of breathing room. When a man becomes everything for a parish of people, the people need to do more for him! In reality, as a nurse, I have seen people call for a priest when there is time for him to come in a few hours, after dawn, after he finishes one of his million daily chores. Be patient, the man will be there asap. If it truly is an emergency, life is passing on immediately to death, I am sure that most of our priests and layministers will be sure that the priest gets there to administer the sacraments. Lay people visit my mother frequently in the nursing home. I am so thankful for them. These people have known her for most of her life, they not only bring her the Blessed Sacrament but they bring to her a chance to talk with someone who knows her and might spark a memory in her Alzheimers of times gone by.

  4. Erik P says:

    Lay ministry is everything that is wrong with the Catholic Church. My wife and I had such a horrible experience trying to schedule the Pre-Cana for our Wedding. We must have called 20-25 parishes trying to get into a class. We never once spoke to a PRIEST! Talk about inclusiveness, I’ve never felt such a feeling of “unwantedness” in my life from these self-righteous, hypocrits. Finally, when a nearby parish was nice enough to, “We’re full, but I guess we can squeeze one more in” the class was spiritually empty. It was a joke. The secretary at the church where we eventually got married was so rude to my wife she was in tears.

    As for the Priest who married us, I could not have more great things to say. A true Holy man.

  5. Mike says:

    Yes, inclusiveness. I remember a young priest in our parish, now moved on, who HAD to add, when praying for vocations, a prayer for “marriage, source and font of all vocations”. Well, ok, though I thought God called, we answer, and in the case of priests, the Bishop confirms, but anyway, it always bothered me, especially as this young priest spoke in the most pedestrian, flat manner, trying to be cool manner. It appeared, at least to me, that having a doctrinal item to explain would be, well, snobby, impolite.

    Ok, that’s it. I will pray for this priest now.

    And for priestly vocations.

  6. Levavi says:

    I wanted to see a priest at a major Cathedral here in the UK, and after waiting for a long time a nun came to see me. When I reiterated that I wanted to see a priest, she said ‘You want to see a real priest?’

  7. lucy says:

    I’m sure we all have bad and good stories to tell. I, myself, was particularly annoyed when I called the parish office for the priest to come to my mother-in-law before her last surgery. They called me back a week later. I wanted to say, thanks, but she passed away. She didn’t, but I wanted to hammer the point home. No return call for a week !!

    On the other hand, we have wonderful priests who do come when asked and I have been grateful for those times. As a NICU nurse, I once needed a priest because a baby was dying. The population at our Children’s hospital is 70% Catholic, but the hospital employs several Protestant ministers. The family wanted a priest. I called the priest on call and he said, sorry, I’m on my way out of town on vacation and can’t come. Then I called priest number 2, he said he would come, but please first try to call priest number 3. I did and no answer. Priest number 2 did come and he was absolutely wonderful with the family and while ministering to the family, was a fabulous influence on other nurses in the room who are of various non-Catholic religions.

    Something does need to happen to make sure that the gatekeeper is an empathetic person who will help in the right way. I think that with the crazy feminist movement, women have taken the manhood out of the priesthood in some instances and priests are afraid of their staff. Priests need to take back their authority. How ? I don’t know. I only hope that it happens soon.

  8. gloriainexcelsis says:

    Thank the Good Lord for our priests at St. Stephen’s. They are all three thin as rails, I think because they do it all – all the time. They “do” sick calls and shut-in visits, bringing the sacraments. If there is an emergency and no one answers the phone, press one and the priest-on-call gets the message and is on his way. Because of the nature of our spread-out congregation, over several counties, they have a GPS in the car to lead them to their destination, no matter how far. Preparation for marriage, Requiems and graveside services, preparation for the sacraments, instructing converts, confession each and every day before and after each and every Mass, evening classes, – I don’t know when they eat or sleep, but they take their duties to their flock seriously and without complaint. They are always “there” for everybody. God bless the FSSP and other communities like theirs (and good secular priests) who know their responsibilities and love what they do. Example: On a recent Sunday morning while we prayed the Rosary before Mass, an altar boy came out from the sacristy ringing a bell. Rosary halted, everyone knelt, the priest who had said the earlier Mass came out, went to the Tabernacle, took out a reserved Host, put it into a pyx, closed the Tabernacle and went out with the altar boy ringing the bell. Then Rosary resumed. Obviously, Father had an emergency call.

  9. Regina says:

    As a parish secretary, aka gatekeeper, I would like to point out that people need to be clear about what they’re asking. Asking for Father to visit someone who is sick in the hospital is not the same thing as asking that he come to anoint someone who is in danger of dying. We don’t have lay ministers in our parish, so that’s not the issue here; but we do have a busy pastor who cannot be available on demand. However, ensuring that a person receives the Sacrament of the Sick is something we take seriously, and I have on occasion called around to make sure a priest gets to them when Father can’t get there right away.

    This is true in general, too. The secretary is like a triage nurse: we have to determine what is urgent, what is important but non-urgent, and what is less important. It’s up to the person calling to indicate what they need. And like a triage situation, where you rank depends a lot on what else is going on.

  10. Desertfalcon says:

    I live in the smallest of rural parishes in Idaho. We have two priests we share between two small towns. I own cowboy boots that are older than either of them. Both are very young, energetic, orthodox, and wonderful! It’s a joy to hear their homilies at Mass and they are everywhere at once it seems, tending the flock. There are so many great priest out there that labor in the fields without much recognition. As the shepherds they must get so little sleep. I pray that all parishes will be blessed with fine priests as mine has been. Everyone should pray daily for this.

  11. ray from mn says:

    Can you imagine what it would be like if we had married priests: “Sorry, Father can’t come today. His daughter’s team is in the final of the state basketball championship.”

  12. William says:

    This is a BIG, BIG problem; and like all BIG, BIG problems our bishops will not find the time to deal with it. Far too many lay people are performing far too many sacral duties, and all to the resentment of other lay people. Ashes on Ash Wednesday, blessing throats (a strictly priestly blessing) on St. Balise, leading Stations of the Cross; and leading more paraliturgies that you can shake the stick at. I’ve simply ceased going and I’m not alone.

    In this diocese the clergy themselves are very supportive of this trend. Our priest, for example, kneels off to the side while the “eucharistic ministers” take over at Communion time.

    And please, don’t get me started on the church secretary!

    Pray for clergy and religious everywhere, especially the locals–and for bishops good and bishops bad, and for priestly vocations and not merely for an “increase to church ministries.”

  13. asperges says:

    I used to smile at the traditional French prayer for vocations, each invocation a little more daring than the last, but in fact is most apt:

    “Mon Dieu, donnez-nous des prêtres; Mon Dieu, donnez-nous de saints prêtres; Mon Dieu, donnez-nous beaucoup de saints prêtres!

    “O My God, give us priests; My God give us many priests; My God, give us many holy priests!” [Very good.]

    Amen. Ainsi soit-il!>

  14. asperges says:

    Apologies, a small error to the above translation:

    “O My God, give us priests; My God give us holy priests; My God, give us many holy priests!”

    (but the progression still works…)

  15. The Egyptian says:

    gloriainexcelsis

    What part of heaven do you reside in, sounds wonderful

  16. michelelyl says:

    Just a couple of things- 1. The priests at my parish are exhausted because they respond to EVERYTHING! Our Pastor is constantly sick because he has to oversee everything and make every single decision. I had the adult (daytime) faith formation facilitator tell me this week that she is not going to offer to lead classes anymore because the people want a priest to lead them every week! Apparently the fact that a priest is present every other week is not enough. We have a secretary but the Pastor answers the phone half the time because he can see who is calling on caller ID and he is so familiar with every parishioner he knows when something is up! The priests are called day and night to the local hospital and also make visits to the Catholics in the hospital every other day; every ministry gets hurt feelings if ‘Father’ does not show up to every meeting; they are the chaplains for the K of C and Catholic Daughters; of course they must visit the Religious Education Classes and Youth Ministry Sessions- our Pastor is acting as a chaperone as I write at a Youth Conference! The priests at my parish are holy and dedicated men but they need a break! We don’t have a deacon, but we do have extraordinary ministers of communion who only bring the Sacrament of Eucharist to shut-ins: the priests do everything else.
    2. I have organized a Year of the Priests Holy Hour on the First Thursday of each month. We pray for the sanctification of our priests, and and increase to the priesthood. We also pray for our Bishop- Bishop Vasa. It is very well attended! We also pray for an increase in the number of priestly vocations at every weekend Mass…and then, separately for vocations to religious life. And recent statistics show that there is an increase in the number of priests in the U.S. this year (as well as those joining the Church) So, PRAYERS do work!

  17. momoften says:

    There is a wonderful new tool to pass around to encourage prayer for your Bishop! [See what I mean? We can't escape it even in this thread.] It is here…
    http://rosaryforthebishop.org/ You can sign up for a particular Bishop to pledge a Rosary as much as you want…every day…twice a week, or even once a month–they even email you a reminder the day before…HOW great is that!!….And, we must pray even if one prayer a day for ALL priests…good or
    bad–they need that from us!

  18. Jenny says:

    I can so relate to the gatekeeper problem. The most stressful part of planning our wedding was getting through that office secretary. I would call and tell the secretary that I needed to schedule our marriage prep meetings and never get a return call. Days would pass and I would try again and never get a return call. I don’t know if she just threw away the messages or if Father ignored them. It would take two or three weeks to actually get Father on the phone to schedule a meeting. Even though I first contacted the church six months before the wedding (which is longer than the required four months in our diocese), I think we only had two meetings with the priest due to the problems contacting him.

  19. My post was about the lack of balance in parish life between lay people/staff/gatekeepers (pick your title) and the priests. I believe lay people and staff in the parish may play an important role in taking some of the burden of administrating the parish from Father. For instance; if the sidewalk isn’t shoveled does that mean Father gets to do it before he celebrates Mass? I know in some instances Father does end up doing that but IMHO that’s an example of a lay person’s role. Also, the boiler is broke again (a constant trouble for priests in older buildings) I don’t think it’s Father’s job to call around and find a person with a boiler license to come over and fix it.

    But, when, as happens all too often, lay staff interfere with the priest’s critical role of Sacrament ADMINISTRATOR, I get upset-as in this rant!

    With all that said, I know there are many in parish life who do a great job-thanks to them-and our priests!

    Yes, even those priests who sneak into town and eat Sichuan without me! Thank you. Heh.

  20. Jerry says:

    re: Jenny – “It would take two or three weeks to actually get Father on the phone to schedule a meeting”

    The obvious solution in such situations is to flag him down after Mass the first Sunday after not receiving a call back.

  21. Tim Ferguson says:

    I had the great privilege of being on staff at a very large parish in San Francisco. We had three priests on staff, two deacons, one sister, one brother, and four full time lay staff (myself included). I was the pastor’s secretary (his gatekeeper, if you will) among other tasks.

    My rule of thumb, when people called to talk to Father was anything involving death and dying got highest priority (track down the pastor personally or, if he couldn’t be found, one of the other priests). Everything else had to be prioritized – could a layperson handle it? could a deacon handle it? could one of the associates handle it? could it wait a day?

    It’s tough work – and I greatly admire the many dedicated lay people who work in parishes. It’s often a thankless task, and, as Cathy rightly points out, the pastor is the COO – he sets the tone. There does need to be a certain amount of gatekeeping involved, because Catholics tend to expect a lot from their priests. One Lutheran pastor’s wife I knew well once said to me, “When the roof leaks in the Lutheran church, the people say, ‘What are we going to do about this?’ When is leaks at a Catholic church, the people say, ‘I wonder what Father is going to do about this?’”

    Yet, the faithful have a right to access their pastor, not just for the sacraments, and not just a select few.

    So yes, lets pray for more priests – more holy, healthy, emotionally stable and orthodox priests. Lets pray that many of the young (and maybe not-so-young) men we worship with consider their vocation, and ask that God call them to the priesthood. It’s said that a personal word of encouragement is often the best – so let’s all pledge to single out the guys we think would make good priests and give them a little push.

  22. gloriainexcelsis says:

    Egyptian – It is a little bit of heaven. I thank God every day for it and ask St. Stephen to keep it safe and flourishing. It is a model of what a parish should be. We always get a “newly oiled” priest for a year or so. He gets everything thrown at him and a crash course in what parish life is all about. Then they send him off to practice what he has learned. I may have to move out of the area later this year and the thought saddens me, I know that where I’m going there is an FSSP priest, alone, but still saying the EF every day and on Sundays. I’m sure he is overwhelmed. I’ll be praying for his apostolate to flourish and grow, with a parish of his own and more priests to follow. It won’t be the same – but – brick by brick.

  23. chloesmom says:

    This is how things are in my parish: Our pastor is responsible for our parish plus another one nearby. We also have a retired priest who fills in for the pastor. In addition, there is a younger priest from Colombia who works primarily at our church. There used to be a deacon, but he is suffering from ill health and isn’t able to do as much as he used to. Lay women run the Sunday school and sacramental preparation programmes. The choirs (one French, one English) are run by lay women also. The pastor says that he doesn’t poke his nose in, doesn’t ask questions (his words) about any of these groups. A number of people have left the English choir because in their opinion, the leadership has generated a “toxic situation”… So, what we have is the situation in which our pastor is over-extended and unable/unwilling to assert his authority as a COO. He once actually said, in my hearing, that “whenever anything comes from Rome, we close our eyes to it”. Yes, there are abuses, and lack of reverence, etc. But I have learned to turn a blind eye to it, simply for the sake of my mental health. I do pray a lot!

  24. Hans says:

    I have to say Amen! to encouraging more priestly vocations.

    And, while I’m at it, can I ask for prayers for our parish’s pastor, Fr. Jim, who is now on an indefinite sabbatical due to a combination of some health problems (mostly involving his back) and general exhaustion due to the sort of overwork described by some above. And also for those priests who will be substituting for him in his absence: two, one diocesan as administrator and one Franciscan (OFM) to assist.

  25. lucy says:

    Gloriainexcelsis: I feel for you. I know your priests, because they are ours once every two weeks and they are angels in black. I hope your new home will be pleasantly surprising. We pray for our priests every night during our family rosary……..for all priests, esp. those we know, for all seminarians, esp. those we know, and for an increase in holy priestly vocations.

  26. gloriainexcelsis says:

    God bless you, Lucy. I pray one day you will have your own “angels in black.” And yes, more vocations, more priests!

  27. cmm says:

    I think that a priest’s first priorities are to administer the sacraments (such as anointing the sick); and the second priorities, to perform works of mercy (such as visiting the sick).

    Everything else can be dealt with by lay people. Lay committees can handle the administration, budget and management.

  28. cmm says:

    And of course, he also needs time every day for private prayer.

  29. cmm says:

    Oops. I forgot an essential part. He needs to preach well, and for that, he needs ample time to prepare his homilies of course!

  30. momoften says:

    Father Z I didn’t mean to leave out priests…for the year of the priests our parish has adopted praying before the blessed Eucharist once a week and praying everyday for the adopted priest/priests/ and even seminarians in our Diocese. We have 2 adopted seminarians to pray for(within my family)–not to mention our usual LONGGGG litany of priests named every night of our beloved,not so beloved priests,and beloved deceased priests as well as our favorite blogging priest….yourself. May God Bless you in your work, as you continue to teach us all.

  31. Brian Day says:

    I know that every situation is different, but from my perspective, my experience with priests/pastors varies with personal participation in parish life and a reasonable expectation of what is important.

    I am a part of a mega-parish of about 5,000 families and four priests. I am also a lay reader and am volunteer with the RCIA program. When my mother-in-law died and I went in the parish office to arrange for a funeral Mass, the pastor came out and talked to me. Not only that, he actually offered Mass even though it was not his day for daily Mass. Now for the vigil, our permanent deacon led the service. It would have been nice to have a priest available, but I knew that this was something not to press for (even though several family members were upset at the arrangements).
    Later when I was going to have surgery, I went to the office to arrange for an Anointing of the Sick. Again the pastor came out to personally administer the sacrament even though I did not specifically request him.

    If I was one of a thousand anonymous parishioners who show up only on Sunday (if that) I don’t think I would have been treated the same.

    Yes, priests/pastors need gatekeepers as noted above. And may God give us many holy priests.

  32. Praying for vocations to the priesthood? Yes!
    Praying for priests and bishops and the Holy Father? Absolutely!
    Praying for my parish priest like my hair’s on fire? You betcha!

    But Father Z (and readers who are also ordained), what else can we the designated laity do to stand by our men as they pour themselves out for God and for us?

  33. catholicmidwest says:

    I have this recurring dread that I will be on my deathbed and instead of the priest, they will send a lay minister, probably a stupid and irreverent one at that. (Oh but wait, most of them are–that’s the most probable part of this whole nightmare.)

    If this happens, the lay minister will be shown off the property immediately and that will be that.

    I’ve been catholic for 25 years now, and there are things I love about being Catholic, but it’s not been what I expected at all. And in fact, there are parts of it that have been downright ugly, to be honest, and a huge disappointment.

  34. Kate says:

    Working in a rectory really opened my eyes.

    People need their pator, true, but there are many emotionally needy people who show up at the door demanding attention. It is not fair to the priest when an alcohol-,drug-,or toxic-relationship-enduced “crisis” prompts a person to show up at the door demanding a priest. Many times, all the person needs is a place to get sober.

    When priests are so busy, the staff must do something to help weed out the true emergencies.

    It has also been my experience that those individuals who make time to help the priest(or even give him the time of day) find that the priest is more than willing to make time for them. The priest-parishoner relationship is something that should be nurtured on both ends. To ignore our priests and then be miffed when we feel ignored really is not fair.

    Though they are busy, priest often deal with loneliness. Making the time to befreiend a priest is a good idea for everyone.

  35. catholicmidwest says:

    “If I was one of a thousand anonymous parishioners who show up only on Sunday (if that) I don’t think I would have been treated the same.”

    Brian, you are 100% correct. If he hadn’t known you personally, you probably wouldn’t have been anointed at all. If there isn’t a mass already on the calendar for that sacrament at the time when you are going to have surgery, in most parishes you are out of luck. It’s just that simple. In fact, it’s rather likely the priest wouldn’t even have been aware you were having surgery or going to the hospital.

  36. staggering but still standing says:

    My older brother is a priest, and was a monk. He died in 2002. He had been ill for a number of years, and I told him I would pray for him every hour that I was awake. My system? Easy. I wore a watch that beeped every hour pinned on my clothes somewhere. When the watch beeped, I prayed. Since his death, I wore the watch as a reminder to pray for all priests, bishops, cardinals, and the Pope hourly. Since I have more disabilities now, I don’t wear the watch all the time. When it’s not on me, it’s parked beside this computer. And, guess what….it beeps; I pray for priests past, present, and those whom I hope God will bless us with. Like it’s soooooooo easy to do. (And, yes, I’m on the computer every day…and usually for more than an hour.) What to me is fascinating is that the battery in that watch was last changed in 1999, and it’s still working. I think maybe that it’s an indication of what God wants us to do.

  37. Scott W. says:

    How about you, Father Z., what do you think? When should a parish priest be available, and what are the priorities? What, among his routine occupations, is least important?

    Good questions, but I think it is getting off the main point: parishes and bishop’s office being run by lay cabals, often for sleazy purposes. In my case, our RCIA director often went into don’t-bother-father mode because she didn’t want candidates doing an end run around her and getting out of doing her program where she could annoy them with centering prayer, story sticks, and misappropriating the teaching on conscience and turning it into a get-out-of-any-doctrine-free card. After we went through, some of us sponored candidates and acted as a kind of underground railroad so that they could get some priest face time.

  38. robtbrown says:

    Good questions, but I think it is getting off the main point: parishes and bishop’s office being run by lay cabals, often for sleazy purposes. In my case, our RCIA director often went into don’t-bother-father mode because she didn’t want candidates doing an end run around her and getting out of doing her program where she could annoy them with centering prayer, story sticks, and misappropriating the teaching on conscience and turning it into a get-out-of-any-doctrine-free card. After we went through, some of us sponored candidates and acted as a kind of underground railroad so that they could get some priest face time.
    Comment by Scott W.

    IME, it is not unusual that lay people (esp lay women) try to take over a parish and boss everyone around. Undoubtedly, it starts with good intentions, but it often turns into a power grab.

    Example: A few years ago I drove to the chancery to go to Confession because the schedule in the local parishes is anything but convenient. I was greeted by three women, who told me that no priest or bishop was around. Then I was told to go to confession in my own parish. My reply referred to the inconvenient schedule, then I mentioned that where I went to confession was none of their business. Then I pressed about a priest being there. Again they said no, but finally admitted that Fr C was around, “But he’s old.”

    They were right–he was old. On the other hand, I knew him, and he was exactly the kind of priest I wanted.

  39. Tom in NY says:

    Temporibus antiquis, murmur adversus ecclesiam fidelium fuit , sec. A. A. 6:1, “…factum est murmur Græcorum adversus Hebræos, eo quod despicerentur in ministerio quotidiano viduæ eorum.” Modo operandi paroechiam pastori adjuvandam, ut pastor eam ducendam est. Antiquis nil mutat.
    Salutationes omnibus.

  40. robtbrown says:

    Modo operandi paroechiam pastori adjuvandam, ut pastor eam ducendam est.

    I don’t understand this construction.

  41. Tom in NY says:

    @robtbrown:
    Ad melius:
    Modo operandi paroechia pastori adjuvanda, ut pastor eam ducdendam est.
    It was attributed to Cato, “Carthago delenda est.” i. e. “Carthage must be destroyed” or more literally, “Carthage is to be destroyed.” The response to the beginning of Lauds and Vespers is “Domine in adjuvandum me festina, “Lord, hasten (festina) in helping me (adjuvandum me).”
    “Gerundive, or “verbal noun” takes as its form the verb root + -nd- + adjective ending. In Latin, there is often a meaning of necessity.
    Most literally, “The parish (paroechia) is to help the pastor (dat.) (adjuvanda) as (ut) the pastor is to lead (ducendam) eam (it), by a method of operation (modo operandi).” “Modus operandi” is a familiar visitor in English.
    Obiter dicta:
    If Father wanted to balance a budget, he would have gone to business school, not seminary. While some clerics have accounting education, I hope their focus is spiritual. And as the faithful are well educated in sacred and profane matters, perhaps the Church can put these skills to higher uses.
    Salutationes omnibus.

  42. robtbrown says:

    Modo operandi

    No problem

    paroechia pastori adjuvanda,

    You’re changed from the accusative, which you had above.

    Still: adiuvanda has a passive meaning. The parish is to be helped–pastori would have to be dative of agency (by a pastor). Probably, it would be better as : pastor adiuvandus fidelibus–the pastor is to be helped by the faithful.

    ut pastor eam ducendam est.

    Yours is not a literal translation. Literally, it would be (a parish) is to be led (ducenda, not dam) as a pastor (would lead) it (eam).

  43. Tom in NY says:

    @robtbrown:
    “Adjuvo” in sensu activo, “pastori” dativo, objectum “adjuvandus” locutus sum,ut paroechia pastori juvamentum dat, viz. lexicum L & S via http://www.perseus.tufts.edu.
    Melius dicendum “ut pastor paroechiam ducendus est”?
    Salutationes tibi.

  44. The thing is, anybody in a reception or secretarial job is faced by similar challenges. They may not mean life or death for a person’s soul, but they do affect everybody at the company.
    Professionalism, or at least doing the assigned job correctly, is not asking too much. It may be a pain in the butt to chase down X person or figure out who the caller needs to talk to, but it is what you signed up to do.

    In my time covering the reception desk, just subbing for the regular lady, I’ve run into some pretty crazy situations. I’ve juggled five zillion calls at once, given directions to strangers, found wandering senior staff members by calling around the building when they didn’t answer pages, and caught a stray dog and called its owners. That wasn’t doing anything but my job, and the regular ladies run into even weirder stuff. You have to be flexible; you don’t have any choice.

    It is not my job to decide that anyone should be ignored. If I ever did that — if I ever decided not to take down information and not to pass it along for a callback — if I ever told anybody that we don’t want their business — I would probably find myself looking for another job in jigtime. And that’s just a job about _money_.

    So yes, I understand how difficult a gatekeeper’s job can be. But the point of gatekeeping is to direct people to the proper and useful gate for every situation, not to turn gates into walls.

  45. robtbrown says:

    It makes no difference whether Adiuvo is active. The past participle adiuvatus and the necessity participle adiuvandus are passive. NB: Your example of deleo: Cartago delenda est–Carthage is to be destroyed.

    When those forms are used as gerundives, they remain literally passive but are often translated as active. Thus: Domine, ad adiuvandum me festina is translated as “Lord, hasten to help me”. Literally, however, it means “hasten to me, needing to be helped”–that is why they can take the inflection of the noun.

  46. catholicmidwest says:

    You are right, suburbanbanshee. In business, if you do not return calls and pass on information correctly to the proper destinations, you will be fired for concealing information.

    However, I believe that the motives for some “gatekeepers” in the Catholic parish world are different from those in the properly working business world. In parish circles, often enough, it’s really all about power, not service. And that’s unfortunate.

  47. “probably so as to avoid one of the great modern mortal sins: not being inclusive. ”

    This is so absolutely true. I am glad you said this Father. Thank you.