QUAERITUR: How do I tactfully tell Father things I don’t like about him?

From a reader:

We have a new priest in my parish. Not a new priest but new to us. He is an adult who had a career before becoming a priest. He also has a child from a marriage (divorced and annulled) before he became a priest. [And your point is...?!?] I have 3 problems with him. 1) he is always late for mass 2) he is a mediocre preacher and seems to be making it up as he goes along 3) he drives a brand new Mercedes. How can he look us in the eye and ask us for money to support the parish when he drives a car that costs more than I make in a year??

My question is: How does one tactfully tell him that we expect more, that we deserve his full and timely attention?

Must… Breathe … Deeply…  In… Out… In… Out…

How do you tactfully tell him what “WE” want or what “YOU” want?

You DON’T!

I’ll tell you what to tell him.  How about “Thank you, Father, for Mass!”  How about “Thank you, Father, for saying ‘Yes’ to your vocation!”  How about, “Father, I said my Rosary for you today!”  How about, “Is there anything that is needed in the sacristy? My friends and I will help set up before Mass.”

This reminds me of the old chestnut:

The Perfect Priest

The results of a computerized survey indicate the perfect priest preaches exactly fifteen minutes. He condemns sins but never upsets anyone. He works from 8:00 AM until midnight and is also a janitor. He makes $50 a week, wears good clothes, buys good books, drives a good car, and gives about $50 weekly to the poor. He is 28 years old and has preached 30 years. He has a burning desire to work with teenagers and spends all of his time with senior citizens.

The perfect priest smiles all the time with a straight face because he has a sense of humor that keeps him seriously dedicated to his work. He makes 15 calls daily on parish families, shut-ins and the hospitalized, and is always in his office when needed.

If your priest does not measure up, simply send this letter to six other churches that are tired of their priest, too. Then bundle up your priest and send him to the church on the top of the list. In one week, you will receive 1,643 priests and one of them will be perfect. Have faith in this procedure.

One parish broke the chain and got its old priest back in less than three weeks.

Lot’s of people don’t have a priest at all in their parish.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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91 Responses to QUAERITUR: How do I tactfully tell Father things I don’t like about him?

  1. Ah, Fr. Z, I bet this could have been a much longer rant if you hadn’t performed your breathing exercise.

  2. Phil_NL says:

    Sorry if this piles up on things, but consider….

    - Father showing up late for Mass is probably better than him starting it early with half the parish therefore being ‘late’. (And as said, beats no Mass at all by a mile)
    - Mediocre preachers are still vastly preferable above those whose homilies are of doubtful orthodoxy. I’d rather fall asleep during a homily than walk out angrily.
    - At least Father wasn’t so poor that he had to ask for money from the parish for his (presumably quite necssary) set of wheels. Also remember that diocesan priests do not take vows of poverty; be glad that Father has ample funds to help him sustain his ministry for many years, as his wages have undoubtedly taken a severe hit.

    Moral of the story: many priests have plenty of things a parishioner would want to complain about. Priests are human too, after all. But most of these are ‘issues’ are in fact inseparable parts of the person of the priest. The only ‘warranty’ the church gives on new priests is their orthodoxy.

  3. rtjl says:

    Sadly Father, this time I have to disagree with you. Your response strikes me as pure clericalism. [ROLF! That's not dramatic!] I am routinely held to high standards in my vocation and occupation, as are most lay people, I see no reason why priests shouldn’t be held to high standards in theirs. Falling back on saying “Lot’s of people don’t have a priest at all in their parish” is like telling a business owner whose accountant regularly lose track of the business owner’s money that he “should be glad he has an accountant because lots of people don’t have an accountant at all”.

    Now in this case, I don’t care about the child from an annulled marriage. That’s probably not relevant – although it could be. And, although I think driving a Mercedes is probably not the best choice a priest could make, it’s not something I’m going to get bent out of shape over: it is after all his business.

    Regularly showing up late for Mass and not taking time to properly prepare homilies, however, is a problem since it could be a matter of being negligent in the responsibilities of one’s vocation, or at least of one’s occupation. Now, I’ll grant that the parishioner should offer to assist father in this matter rather than simply criticize him without offering assistance but tardiness concerning Mass and poor homily preparation is a matter that a christian and parishioner is entitled to have addressed.

    I would refer to.

    Can. 212 §3 They (laity) have the right, indeed at times the duty, in keeping with their knowledge, competence and position, to manifest to the sacred Pastors their views on matters which concern the good of the Church. They have the right also to make their views known to others of Christ’s faithful, but in doing so they must always respect the integrity of faith and morals, show due reverence to the Pastors and take into account both the common good and the dignity of individuals.

    Having said this, however, it is important to be realistic about what can be expected.

    Of the two valid concerns, I am more concerned about the tardiness because that is something the priest can certainly do something about. Poor homily preparation may or may not be something he can do something about. Some people, some priests, just don’t have that particular gift. If father is doing his best but just doesn’t have the gift of effective preaching, well then the parish will just have to accept that and value him for the gifts he does have. Perhaps he has a gift of extraordinary pastoral care. Perhaps he is a gifted confessor or spiritual director. Perhaps he is an excellent organizer and administrator.

    By all means, raise your valid concerns but do so respectfully and with realistic expectations and above all with real charity – and be prepared to pitch in and help and not just snipe from a safe location.

  4. tzabiega says:

    The problem with this email question was that it is not a good example (although I have to say that Pope Francis has specifically asked priests not to bring scandal by driving fancy cars; the legendary Cardinal Wyszynski who defeated Communism in Poland used to dock his priests half their pay if he saw them driving fancy cars). I don’t mind poor preaching or being a little late to Mass, but I do think there is a major problem with too many priests being lazy. For example, offering only 30 minutes of confession a week (and always on Saturday), not being available to come in to the hospital to offer Extreme Unction (I am a physician and I used to work at a hospital where the priest shared call with Protestant ministers–my dying patients didn’t need a Baptist minister at their hour of need). One hospital chaplain (not overworked, I know for a fact) refused to walk 100 yards to a nursing home to confess a paralyzed patient because “it was not his territory.” No one else was assigned to that “territory.” I have seen priests in a parish not show up for Lenten pre-set confession dates and I called the rectory and received the answering service, which told me that they were specifically instructed that such calls (to confess someone) do not constitute something they should transfer to the priest. In all these cases the priests were considered to be orthodox. The orthodoxy of a priest and how he celebrates Mass is very important, but if he is lazy than all those qualities go out the door. In fact, I know a liberal missionary priest down south who goes out of his way to minister to his parishioners, doing everything for them, though some of his views on theology are not commendable. But then he told me once how he was overjoyed one weekend while preaching a mission at another parish when after preaching at 7 Masses that weekend, after the evening Sunday Mass he was approached by a young man to hear his confession. Though fatigued and falling asleep by that time and with the church being closed, he went out to the parking lot with the young man and heard his confession. He told me this like if he had won a million dollars. Priests are not beyond reproach if they are spiritually or physically lazy. They are the anointed of God and are also more responsible before God for their actions, so if parishioners are not allowed or afraid to tell them what they are doing wrong, then it may actually be most detrimental to the priest himself, who will face God one day and have to explain why he led people away from the Church because of his laziness. The best criticisms I have ever had were from my patients. The ones who had the guts to tell me what I did wrong helped me the most in changing my wrong ways of practicing medicine, for the good of everyone else, especially myself.

  5. jbosco88 says:

    At one of my previous Parishes, the mighty “they” and “we” we’re moaning the PP was increasingly grumpy and rude. Sick of the gossip I took the plunge. The interaction was thus:

    “Father, thank you very much for the time you are putting into the Parish, it must be very stressful.”
    “Yes. I suppose so.”

    “Is there anything I can do to help? Would you like me to pray for any special intention?”
    “Oh I don’t know. I was mugged just after arriving here and it’s unsettled me.”

    Remember, Priests are human, too.

  6. eremitaosppe says:

    I understand that it may be difficult sometimes, having a priest that ‘doesn’t measure up’, but I mean, the last line says it all: lots of people don’t have priests in their parishes.

    May the saints intercede for them and us!

  7. mamajen says:

    WOW.

    But your answer is wonderful, Father.

  8. Supertradmum says:

    I would be praising this man for answering a call from God and encouraging him in anyway I could. When I was little, my parents use to have the pastor in for dinner and lunch and tea–how about that instead of whinging?

  9. Lisa Graas says:

    Not only is my priest perfect, he has *the* most powerful eyebrow in the world. All he has to do is raise it and I know I’m in big trouble. I love that about him.

  10. Andrew says:

    Absit ut de his (clericis) quidquam sinistrum loquar, quia Apostolico gradui succedentes, Christi Corpus sacro ore conficiunt; per quos et nos Christiani sumus. Qui claves regni coelorum habentes, quodammodo ante judicii diem judicant: qui sponsam Domini sobria castitate conservant. (S. Hieronymus)

  11. VexillaRegis says:

    WOW! That question must be a joke! The priest trading suggestion was good, though ;-)…

  12. Choirmaster says:

    Easy answer to the reader: ask your priest if he read Fr. Z today. ;-) That might be one good way to tell him all those things.

    And let’s not be too quick to judge the material disposition of a priest (or anyone, for that matter). It is entirely possible, even probable, that this priest was given his car as a gift. I know it’s fashionable for a cleric to shun the generosity of his benefactors and rid themselves of their gifts (like bishops selling their mansions or popes driving Fords) but this priest may be genuinely grateful even out of season.

    Also, considering that his vocation came later in life, he probably had a career for many years and could have purchased his Benz before he entered the seminary. It’s not uncommon for people to keep these fancy cars for years and years because they end up liking them so much.

    My point is, we can speculate innocuous circumstances for this guy’s Benz as easily as we can imagine less-than-savory ones. It’s best not to speculate at all and simply be happy that this priest, like the “Perfect Priest”, drives a good car.

  13. raitchi2 says:

    What’s that sound? Do you hear it? Listen…Neigh, neigh… It’s the white horse of clericalism.

  14. jbas says:

    A return to ad orientem worship could help redirect attention away from the personality of a particular priest and towards Our Lord, because, I suspect, our present liturgical posture in the West helps create a climate of petty evaluation of priests.

  15. teomatteo says:

    Having the priest showing up late for mass is a whole lot better than having him leave early. No?

  16. Gail F says:

    I do think that a priest who drives a very expensive car when he has poor parishioners is going to get some resentment over it. That’s human nature. OTOH, perhaps the car was a gift from his family. This person doesn’t have the slightest idea where it came from.

  17. benedetta says:

    Where I am our priests may have charge over two, three, even four churches and certainly need a solid and reliable vehicle especially in winter.

  18. Tamquam says:

    On the preaching part, I confess that I am generally disappointed with most priest’s preaching, and I think a lot of them could afford to focus more on it.

    Every priest brings those particular gifts which which God has endowed him to the people he serves. His gifts are not going to be appreciated by everybody (and some he will rub the wrong way), but there are some for whom those gifts are a good if not perfect fit. If a particular priests talents, gifts, abilities don’t match up to my needs I am sure that they provide great consolation and spiritual benefit to many others. Thank God for that.

    Not every priest is gong to be a scintillating preacher. So when I find myself grousing about the preaching I know it is time for me to pray for Father. Me being the controlling type, pray for the intercession of St. Anthony of Padua (one of my all time favorites!) that God will grant this man the gift of effective preaching.

    Finally, I make it regular practice that just prior to the Gospel proclamation when Father is making the sign of the cross over the Gospel and then his forehead, lips and heart and praying “May the words of the Gospel be in my mind, on my lips and in my heart,” I add “And in the hearts of your holy people.” I do so asking the Holy Spirit to use Father’s words to convey to the congregants what He wants them to hear regardless of what Father says.

  19. Moro says:

    Fr. Z you make excellent points about priests not being perfect. Often some of these problems are a result of being overworked. But what are we to do about priests who consistently act as if they just don’t care about the faith? There are countless occasions when a priest doesn’t show for scheduled confessions, they are consistently late for Mass, they appear to have put no thought into their sermons, they blow off appointments. Once in a while and I can chalk it up to being busy or just being human. Consistent issues like this, and I’d say he’s being a neglectful spiritual father.

  20. pray4truth says:

    THANK YOU, FR. Z!!! GREAT ANSWER (and I hope it’s ok with you that I’m sharing this with many in our parish!) … you’re much more patient and kind than me. Most of all THANK YOU FOR BEING SUCH A GOOD, HOLY, WISE, WONDERFUL, HUMOROUS, and DEDICATED PRIEST! Please know, that in spite of ingrates, you and all priest are very much appreciated! What many don’t realize is that priests suffer more than anyone are under constant terrible attacks by Satin and his crew because PRIESTS BRING US JESUS IN THE HOLY EUCHARIST… and it all stems from there!!! SO, I ENCOURAGE ALL OF YOU TO LOVE , APPRECIATE AND PRAY/SACRIFICE FOR ALL PRIESTS EVERY DAY :-) And I hope the reader who asked the question will apologize and hopefully come to love and appreciate and pray for all priests daily (ahhh, what a silver lining it would be!)

  21. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Quod Andreas dixit.

  22. Liz says:

    You mean priests are human? Gasp. God bless our priests!!! Maybe the reader should get out that beautiful prayer I think by St. Therese. Oh wait, here are two. I guess we should all say them:

    http://lovecrucified.com/prayers/priests_therese.html
    Prayer for priests
    Prayed daily by St. Therese

    O Almighty Eternal God, Look upon the face of Thy Christ, and for the love of Him, Who is the Eternal High Priest, have pity on Thy priests. Remember, O most compassionate God, that they are but weak and frail human beings. Stir up in them the grace of their vocation which is in them by the imposition of the Bishop’s hands. Keep them close to Thee, lest the enemy prevail against them, so that they may never do anything in the slightest degree unworthy of their sublime vocation.

    O Jesus, I pray to Thee, for Thy faithful and fervent priests; for Thy unfaithful and tepid priests; for Thy priests laboring at home or abroad in distant mission fields; for Thy tempted priests, for Thy lonely and desolate priests; for Thy young priests; for Thy aged priests; for Thy sick priests; for Thy dying priests; for the souls of Thy priests in purgatory.

    But above all, I commend to Thee the priests dearest to me: the priest who baptized me; the priests who absolved me from my sins; the priests at whose Masses I assisted and who gave me Thy Body and Blood in Holy Communion; the priests who taught and instructed me or helped and encouraged me; all the priests to whom I am indebted in any other way, particularly [name a particular priest of your choosing here]. O Jesus, keep them all close to Thy heart, and bless them abundantly in time and in eternity. Amen.

    The Daily Prayer For Priests
    -St. Therese of the Child Jesus

    O Jesus, I pray for your faithful and fervent priests;
    for your unfaithful and tepid priests;
    for your priests laboring at home or abroad in distant mission fields.
    for your tempted priests;
    for your lonely and desolate priest
    for your young priests;
    for your dying priests;
    for the souls of your priests in Purgatory.

    But above all, I recommend to you the priests dearest to me:
    the priest who baptized me;
    the priests who absolved me from my sins;
    the priests at whose Masses I assisted and who gave me Your Body and Blood in Holy Communion;
    the priests who taught and instructed me;
    all the priests to whom I am indebted in any other way (especially …).

    O Jesus, keep them all close to your heart,
    and bless them abundantly in time and in eternity. Amen.?

    God bless all of our priests, especially those who suffer so much for love of God.

  23. Jeannie_C says:

    Andrew:

    Please, would you give the English version of what you write? I’ve had no education in Latin and try to find translations but seldom am I able to so I miss out on something valuable you’ve written.

  24. Jeannie_C says:

    The parishoner who wrote this letter should take some time to examine his true motives. I often find the things I dislike most in others are mirrored in my own personality. It is true there are lazy priests just as in any calling, but something doesn’t sit right with this set of complaints.

  25. pseudomodo says:

    Never critisize a priest or the priesthood. That’s the Popes Job! :-)

    INSCRUTABILE (On The Problems Of The Pontificate)
    Pope Pius VI
    Encyclical promulgated on 25 December 1775.

    4. We urge you to show that you are faithful stewards of the mysteries of God. As the Lord is your portion, you know well what you should do and endure for the Church of God in the courageous fulfillment of your ministry. So We exhort you to rouse up the grace which is in you through the imposition of hands and to omit nothing which contributes to the growth of the body “which is built from Christ and joined together at every point of subministration”[5] in faith and in love.
    Therefore, since you know that the Church’s chief good derives from admitting only those who are fully qualified into the clergy, We do not have to remind you to observe carefully the sanctions established in this matter by the canons. Prevent from entering the Church’s service all who lack exceptional moral holiness, who are uninstructed in the law of the Lord, and who give little or no promise of becoming energetic members of the clergy. For instead of proving helpers to you in feeding and guiding your flock, they will increase your toil and troubles. They will hinder you from ensuring that the Lord receives from his workers the fruits of the vineyard which Christ in strictest justice will expect from you at the final judgment. A man who is going to be a priest should excel in holiness and learning. For God rejects as priests those who have rejected knowledge, and only the man who unites moral piety with the pursuit of knowledge can be a suitable worker in the Lord’s harvest.

  26. Jeannie_C says:

    I am still annoyed by this letter – why does the author believe he has any right to tell his priest what he doesn’t like about him – why the burning need to do so? There are many times in life when it’s best to keep one’s mouth shut because what comes out of it isn’t worth listening to and is nothing but hurtful to others.

  27. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Re: priests driving nice cars, there are several ways Father might have a nice car even without him spending money on it.

    1. Parish booster clubs sometimes get Father a new car when he arrives in the parish, especially if Father’s car is an old crudmobile that’s a breakdown waiting to happen. If a car dealer is part of the Boosters, sometimes he’ll arrange to give Father use of a new car for a year (basically paying the lease or eating it himself), then sell the car as a used car.

    2. Somebody may have left Father a car, or somebody’s grieving family may have given it to him, or somebody who can no longer drive may have given it away to him. A lot of older folks with cash have fairly late model cars which they hardly drive. Also, writing things off on taxes are nice.

    3. Parish or charity raffle. Priests are often obliged to buy a ticket for everybody’s causes, so they’re more likely to win.

    4. Father’s parents or old co-workers may have given him a car. If he used to make good cash before his vocation, and if he was doing it somewhere nearby his current locale, it’s likely that his old colleagues take pride in him and watch over him a bit.

  28. everett says:

    After all of that, if you still feel that there might be some things that might require fraternal correction, the way to go about it is to first become friends with the priest such that you might be able to offer friendly suggestions. Of course, in becoming friends, you may find out that the things you’re concerned about may not actually be issues.

  29. Suburbanbanshee says:

    5. Farewell present from his old parish. My old parish gave their old pastor a new Cadillac when he was reassigned, because they knew perfectly well that he’d never buy a new car himself, and that his new geographically-separated assignments would have him driving all over creation for hours and hours, as well as probably hauling people. So they got a Caddy that wouldn’t break down easily, and used various kinds of pressure to make sure he’d accept it and keep it. (Emotional blackmail, practically. It was all in a good cause, but sheesh, some people in that parish were not shy about manipulation when they felt it was needed.)

  30. Liz says:

    p.s. I wrote this last year on Holy Thursday. We have so much to be grateful for. (Father Z. if this is too long please delete it.)
    THANK YOU DEAR PRIESTS
    March 28, 2013

    Dear Fathers:

    Today I was reading about a priest-friend in Rome who said that priests in Rome are exalted on Holy Thursday. I had never heard of such a thing or thought about it, but I realized that it is a great idea. I’ve been thinking about what I can do for the priests in our family’s lives and I still don’t know exactly, but I decided I had to write something down.

    I can never begin to thank you all for what you have done for me, for my family and for the church. When I think of your service to the church it brings tears to my eyes. I am so thankful for: the masses we’ve been to and those said for our intentions and for those we love; the prayers; the many blessings given: simple, of our homes, first, Epiphany, of sacramentals, our cars for journeys, enthronement of our home to the Sacred Heart and countless other blessings and enrollments; the Last Rites of loved ones; the prayers for sick loved ones; availing yourselves to us, sinners, so that we can confess our sins over and over and then again some more; bringing the most Blessed Sacrament to us, both in offering the Holy Sacrifice of the mass and when we were sick; the litanies, devotions, and holy hours led by you; enabling us to be able to take part in the Exposition and Benediction because of you and your sacrifices; the sacred music; the prayers said for us at shrines; churches and even at the computer or after a phone call; the late nights and early morning which are so very appreciated, dear Fathers; for educating my husband, our children and me; encouraging us; all of those hours working with our sons so that they can have the privilege of serving at the altar of God; all of the sacraments we were prepared for and received, your patience with me and with my family; the many kind wishes, and the practices and hardships of Holy Week and other busy liturgical times, I am forever grateful.

    I will never be able to repay you for the good that you do for us, but I had to attempt to begin to thank you. Thank you for your priesthood.

  31. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Re: Andrew’s quote:

    “Far be it from me that I say anything improper about those who confect the Body of Christ with their speech, following in the Apostolic steps; for we are Christians through them. They judge us
    before Judgement Day in a way, those who hold the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, those who guard the Lord’s Bride with sober chastity.”

    - St. Jerome (aka Eusebios Hieronymos – yup, Anglicization is awesome).

  32. jilly4ski says:

    So the poor Father has a car from his previous working days and he is what, supposed to trade it in for an older and less reliable car or one he has to have payments on because he no longer has the income he had before (and I bet his savings when to his seminary education)?

    Mediocre preaching, meh, not worth complaining about, there is probably little he can do to fix that.

    As far as being late, have you asked him if he needs some help in the mornings? Maybe he is late, because the other volunteers (readers, sacristans, servers, EMHCs, etc) are late, or other legitimate reason.

  33. Suburbanbanshee says:

    That said, it might be nice to have Father set up a “complaints box” and a “compliments box. ” This sort of thing can help people blow off steam before it becomes a huge problem, but it might also find a lot of legitimate complaints, needs, etc. You could do something like this with emails to the parish also.

  34. rbbadger says:

    My home parish had a wonderful pastor who ended up being transferred to a larger parish. His successor was also a good man. He was a banker by profession before entering the seminary and so he decided it was time to put the parish back into shape financially. He made some decisions which angered some very influential parishioners, who were going back and forth between their homes and the chancery to complain. They made his job very difficult.

    Thanks to the vocation suppression policies of the bishop then in control, a man who believed that priestless parishes administered by deacons wasn’t a bad thing, the diocese had been experiencing a veritable dearth of vocations. When his successor was ordained a few years ago, there wasn’t a single seminarian left.

    We ended up being in a situation where we had no priest and had to get along with communion services lead by a deacon. Permanent deacons are all fine and good, and far be it from me to belittle the valuable ministry many of these men provide. But a deacon can’t absolve you. He can’t even anoint you.

    While bishops need to be careful in the men they ordain, I am certain that there must be a special place in hell for those who thought that priestless parishes were good things. While the parish has a priest now, it is hard for me not to feel anger against those who basically ran our pastor out of town and left us with no priest.

  35. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Right, jilly4ski. It’s like the priest whose aunt died and left him her car. It was very nice–and very reliable. So what should he do, crash it into a tree so it looks crummy? Sheesh. Mother Teresa told her sisters on mission, “Eat what is put before you. If it’s dried bread, eat it. If it’s steak, eat it.”

  36. Imrahil says:

    So the priest is an adult? Well good for him…

    That said… it does seem – forgive me! – rather odd to me that a person with an annulment behind himself should be ordained to the priesthood, or deaconate for that matter. Which is probably why it was included in the letter, as indicating some distress about the priest of a general nature. But it’s certainly now the priest’s fault that he is ordained and is employed accordingly.

    Re 1) “Father, why are you so often being late?” Of course, a probable answer may be, “well I know but sorry for that”… “But why?” “Well I said I’m sorry, so what’s your point?” It is no catastrophe if a priest is not above all reproach in his office, and that is even supposing the reproach is justified, which is far from certain.
    Re 2) As far as I know it is quite allowed to make the sermon up as he goes along. If the result is mediocre, so be it; the bishop could set a sermon-improving-program or the like but that’s not the laity’s job. Why would you complain, anyway? I can understand a layman to complain if it is both mediocre and excessively long (20 minutes), but a complaint for what is nothing but lesser quality, not even any disorthodoxies? Why would you even think of that?
    Re 3) That is really none of the laity’s business. And back in the days, the priest used to be one of the village’s notables to whom a Mercedes is actually not altogether unfitting (it’s not a Ferrari, right?). Remember the priest has not vowed poverty.

    The priest is the parish’s superior. I’m not saying one must not expect something from one’s superior, but all the same a superior is something different from a servant. (Yes, the priest is supposed to serve, but that’s a matter for his own conscience!)

    Also, I totally agree to what the dear @everett said.

  37. Imrahil says:

    second paragraph: It’s certainly not now, etc.

  38. av8er says:

    As for priestly support, I suggest that we as Catholics, when we see a priest in our travels, we thank them for their service like we do servicemen. As a vet, and others would agree, I can assure you their job is more important and mine.

  39. cheezwiz says:

    What Everett said so well!

    Further, if a priest really is a slacker (and there are some) remember his fellow priests and the parish employees in your prayers. While you may be irked, annoyed and feeling very put upon, those who have to take up his slack and put out the pastoral fires that often occur are the ones who are suffering.

  40. jbas says:

    Tamquam,
    The deacon or priest says “a reading from the holy Gospel according to…” while making those crosses; there is no prayer accompanying the gesture, at least not in the Roman rite of Mass. I do, however, appreciate your sentiments. A conscious effort on the part of the congregation to receive the Gospel can balance out any deficiencies in its preacher.

  41. Fr_Sotelo says:

    Fr. Z was right to become indignant. The idea of remonstrating the priests for their failures of example is not such a bad idea. However, the tone of the letter goes beyond this by compiling a list and then closing with the comments that “we expect more..” and “we deserve more…” The writer has to recall the advice of Holy Writ, that you go and see your brother personally for something he has done wrong to you, and keep it between the two of you (Matthew 18:15).

    However, this is not a business relationship, between a boss and a client. It is a familial and loving bond between a shepherd and a lamb of his flock, not unlike the relationship between spouses or parents and children. Whatever corrections you carry out, if they disregard the sacrifices, the love, and the patience which that family member (whether it be a spouse or your mom or dad) has rendered for you, will come across as callous. And it will appear that you, the complainer, are making yourself the focus of entitlement and needing to be catered to.

    When a priest smells the air of pomposity, callousness, and entitlement from a parishioner, and slaps it down, it is not clericalism. IT IS WHAT A FATHER IS SUPPOSED TO DO. It is what my dad did to me when I was a bitchy, smart-mouth ingrate and I thank God he did it, because it has made me a better priest.

  42. JacobWall says:

    Father, I like your point of taking time to think of all the things we should *thank* our priest for, and actually saying it to him. I’ve had 5 different priests in my 2 home parishes. None have been “perfect” (surprise!) but all have been excellent priests. I could start making a list of things I want from them, but that would be ungrateful and unnecessary. I have taken the time to thank each one, but I think I have actually missed some important points. My current priest has 2 parishes and 2 special parish groups (in 4 different locations) under his care. Yet he is making the effort to open our parish on Wednesdays for Mass and adoration. I have not yet thanked him for taking us on and even offering us more despite having so much to do. This post reminded me.

    Thank you as well, Father, for this reminder and for the excellent work you do!

  43. iPadre says:

    RJTL: “Clericalism” I think not. Let me tell you a story about clericalism.

    About 30+ years ago when I applied to the seminary, my hair was over my shoulders. I walked into the vocations office for my appointment. The priest/ vocation director came out of his office in his clergy suit and French Cuffs (I also wear them), looked at me from head to toe and turned around and walked out. That’s clericalism!

    A day latter I had Chinese food. My fortune read: “Judge a man by the depths of his heart, not the length of his hair.”

    My point is this. Maybe Father is late for a reason. He may have health problems, or may be up late doing prayer and penance for his “difficult” parish. As for the car, it may be left over from his former life and hard earned cash. Maybe it was a gift. Finally, all priests don’t have the “gift” of inspiring preaching. But one thing for sure is they have the gift of Holy Orders to touch even the most hardened hearts with their preaching.

    Pray for Father, encourage him and if he does something truly wrong, talk to him one on one.

  44. Lynne says:

    I agree with Father Z about everything except the last line… “Lot’s of people don’t have a priest at all in their parish.” Then they don’t have a parish. We do not want to begin thinking it’s normal and acceptable to not have a priest at a parish. Communion services are a very bad idea.

    There were many nice suggestions about praying for the priest.

  45. Priam1184 says:

    You are correct Father. So I will say thank you to you for following your vocation and God’s call through this vale of tears. You have done more for this world than you will ever know.

  46. HolyPhoenix says:

    Um….. It is not the place of the parishioner to do such a thing. If something is really bad… and I mean really bad(priest is robbing banks serious, talking down the Tridentine Rite, telling you to vote for Obama) then you may talk to their superior (usually the Bishop). If you disagree with things like arriving late, driving fancy car, or other personal things that don’t have a large effect on whether he will actually be able to do his job to take care of his flock(you) then just keep it to yourself. Be patient… Don’t talk to father because it won’t get you anywhere. Don’t talk to your friends because that is gossip and a sin(I see this wayyy to often in my parish). Just zip your mouth and say a prayer for the patience and humility to get over it. He is a priest and you must respect him as such.

  47. Konstantin says:

    Maybe reading the book “Dignity and Duties of the Priests” by the Doctor of the Church, St. Alphonus de Liguori, (PDF online available) would help the Priest.

  48. Will D. says:

    A priest that is habitually late for Mass is a problem, and the parishioner has reason to be annoyed by that. I would pray for him, and politely ask if there was some way I could help to ensure that Mass starts on time. The other things seem like small potatoes to me, and I would not mention them.

  49. Lori Pieper says:

    Yes, the complainer should just thank God he/she has a priest at all! Sounds to me like the self-centered type who notices what goes on with others only as it affects them. Probably doesn’t even notice that we have a huge priest shortage going on.

    Many priests are the only priest in a very large parish, or have to cover two or more parishes miles apart. Even if this isn’t the case, the demands on a priest are enormous; they often have to race like mad to get everything done. So maybe Father has so many places to go that he is late for Mass, or doesn’t have much time to prepare his sermons. We are hurt because “we” expected more. Well at least he’s got reliable wheels, but then people complain about that too.

    Here’s a better solution then complaining. Take the time you spent writing your complaint and apply it instead to praying for more priests! Because we really need them, because our priests are overburdened. And pray for your priest, who is in constant need of divine help, as are we all.

    Nah, that would be too simple.

    You tell ‘em Father Z!

  50. Christine says:

    If you have a problem with your parish priest, that means you are not praying for him enough. This letter writer could have used his time better by getting on his knees and praying for this priest.

  51. robtbrown says:

    My experience of 8 years in Rome and papal masses is that the pope regularly shows up late for mass.

  52. cl00bie says:

    Breathe… In… Out… In… Out… Ok… I think I’m ready.

    You are complaining about the Mercedes your priest drives? What would you prefer? A “Smart Car”? Maybe a Fiat? Then if he gets in an accident, it will insure that he goes to meet his Savior earlier than expected, and possibly leaves you without access to the Body of Christ.

    I’d put my pastor in an Abrams tank if he’d drive one (and he might) though it would not be road legal. The next best thing would be a Mercedes. They have the best crash test numbers out there and they have eight (8), air bags. It’s the best you can get short of wrapping your priest in bubble-wrap.

    Also, after 25 years of marriage, and buying used economy cars for cash, my wife let me splurge on a 4 year old used Mercedes entry model. It will last more than twice as long as the cars I used to drive which means that it is as cost effective which will make Pope Francis smile. :)

    It also didn’t cost all that much, relatively.

  53. Supertradmum says:

    What will this man say when the priest shortage closes down parishes and he can’t get to Mass?

  54. MikeM says:

    I don’t understand people’s interest in what a priest drives. If I could afford a nicer, newer car, I would have one. My success in pretty much everything I do depends on my car starting, and I spend hours a day in torturous traffic in the thing… I want it to be reliable, and and I wouldn’t feel bad about wanting it to be comfortable (not that any car is all that comfortable when you’re stuck in hours of traffic.)

    And who knows (or cares) where he got the car and how much he paid for it. A Catholic in my area owns a Buick dealership and he donates new cars to a few priests in the area. Should they turn it down and waste parish funds on a ’93 Taurus, instead, so as not to upset hyper-judgemental busybodies?

    Also, what’s the deal with people complaining about being asked to support their parish? Does the writer think that the Parish is his priest’s personal hobby that he should be funding out of pocket? It’s your parish. If you want it to continue to be there, you have to pay for it. There was a time when people took out second mortgages on their houses to support their local church. Now they act outraged when they’re asked to kick in to pay the electric bill.

  55. Sword40 says:

    Too often we forget that priests are “people” too. They are subject to all the faults and weaknesses as we are. How many co-workers do you know that are great workers but would make poor friends?
    Often, in the OF parishes, priests become mere administrators rather than doctors for the soul. They are totally tied up in meetings and planning committees. One of our OF priests has nine small parishes that he administers with one vicar and two weekend retired priests.
    Just try and get a short meeting with him for spiritual advise. Impossible!!!!!

    The Abp will soon be needing to consider how to consolidate parishes. Vocations are just not “exploding” and show little signs of improvement.

    You may not like your priest (and he may not like you) but he is all that you have. At least he can consecrate the Host and say Mass.

  56. Patti Day says:

    “That said… it does seem – forgive me! – rather odd to me that a person with an annulment behind himself should be ordained to the priesthood, or deaconate for that matter.”

    So, would it have been better if Father had ignored Our Lord’s call?

  57. St. Epaphras says:

    Oh my.
    Extra prayers tonight for my dear pastor and for the faithful priests in our area who have been so generous with the sacraments and so faithful to preach the truth always.

  58. msc says:

    I agree with everyone that it is not the writer’s business to bring such complaints to the priest, at least not in such a direct way. If getting to Mass late is truly a problem, then a VERY polite note would not be out of line. On the other hand I do have a problem with the Mercedes. It sounds like a lot of the commentators are tying themselves in knots to find ways that might explain how he owns a Mercedes without having bought it. If it were a gift, those giving the gift should have thought better: these days, a Mercedes is no more reliable than the better Hyundais, for example (and Cadillacs were never that reliable). A Hyundai Sonata, even an Elantra, would have been plenty generous, and the difference could have been given to charity. If he does own a Mercedes that he bought, he should think a bit about appearances. Of course people won’t know what’s behind owning the car, but he can know what people will think. A priest will avoid other appearances of impropriety. Owning a Mercedes proclaims an attachment to worldly goods and a desire to obtain prestige on the grounds of wealth. If he had thought about it, he probably would have realized this and traded in his Merc. for something a lot cheaper and less flashy. I can find a lot of comments in the Church Fathers and later theologians to the effect that priests should live relatively simple, unostentatious, lives. I’m with Pope Francis on this.

  59. Hank Igitur says:

    Perhaps the person posting could just seek out another Mass/priest better suited to his/her liking.

  60. Father S. says:

    I think that the question posed is a worthwhile question. Tone aside, it is a question that comes up often. In my years of priestly experience, people often wonder how to approach priests when they have concerns. I also know that sometimes people voice concerns to priests rudely and without the consideration that they would give to almost anyone else. I know further how one rude parishioner who complains about the sound system but refuses to wear a hearing aid can ruin my morning. While rudeness is never permissible, the intensity of emotion that sometimes comes through is at least enough to say that the things about which people are concerned are important to them.

    How many of us who are priests have answered the question “Why can’t priests get married?” with an answer that says something along the lines of our not having time for a parish and a wife and kids? If we want to speak that way, we need to have time for our parish in the way that a husband has time for his work and his family, not just his work or not just his family. We have reasonable expectations of boundaries, but our role is the role of a father. Sometimes, those who are entrusted to our care need to express concerns. They ought to have a similar kind of freedom to express their concerns to us as they would with their natural fathers. They ought to be able to come to us and say, “You are my father. You need to do better.”

    If there is a desire to simply dismiss these kinds of questions–and I don’t have anyone in particular in mind here–that desire seems to me to be one to which we ought not give in. It is insufficient simply to tell people to be happy that they have a priest. People can expect us to be holy. They can expect us to set high standards. They can expect us to fulfill our duties with diligence and attention. Coming to Holy Mass on time is something that parishioners can expect of us. Preaching well is something that parishioners can expect of us. Especially when we have parishioners who are skilled in the craft of public speaking, we ought to listen to their insights when they are helpful and delivered in charity.

    In short, we ought to have high expectations of priests. I have high expectations of my married couples and the religious in my parish. I ask them routinely to seek out a high level of holiness and perfection in their particular vocations. Why shouldn’t they ask that of any one of us?

  61. Mike says:

    I have bitten my tongue more times than I can count in this regard–and that’s a good thing. Prayer, prayer, and more prayer, and then sacrifice, for priests!! So I agree with Fr. Z for the most part. (And, really, the car doesn’t bother me.) However, while realizing that the priesthood is not a “job”, and the laity are not “clients”, priests do the “work of God” in preaching and administering the sacraments. And so, yes, there is a sort of quality one would hope to have from a good priest in regard to basic competence. Surely, the catechetical crisis were are in is not only the (poor) work of the laity?

  62. MargaretC says:

    You have no business criticizing a priest you don’t pray for. Period.

    As one who has spent plenty of time in the confessional repenting of the sin of rash judgement, I second the advice to spend some time making friends with the priest. Once you get to know him, you may find his personal quirks bother you less.

  63. MargaretC says:

    And Father, please tell us — do priests ever get together and gripe about their parishioners?

  64. oldcanon2257 says:

    I have 3 problems with him. 1) he is always late for mass 2) he is a mediocre preacher and seems to be making it up as he goes along 3) he drives a brand new Mercedes. How can he look us in the eye and ask us for money to support the parish when he drives a car that costs more than I make in a year??

    I have a problem with the holier-than-thou attitude of the person who made the above statement. Priests put their lives on the line everyday for the sake of our souls, the least we could do is to pray for them. That person could entrust the priest to the care of Our Blessed Mother Queen of the Clergy and pledge to say a rosary or two for him daily instead of compiling a list of perceived shortcomings and airing it (wouldn’t that be the sin of detraction? How much of that is detraction and how much is calumny, we’ll never know.)

    And hiding behind the “we” in the statement (“we expect more, that we deserve his full and timely attention“) just irked me to no end. Which “we”? Royal “we” (who died and made us king???) “We the people”? (breaking news: Our Lord Jesus Christ founded His Church as a hierarchy and not a democrary). “We are church” as in the radical feminist sisters? To me it sounds more like Politburo/Central Committee “we”.

    While I get irritated at some priests whose liturgical abuses know no bound, I’m no liturgical police either and will tolerate the occasional unintentional deviation from “the red and the black” (as long as it’s not the Words of Consecration they’re messing with). I have had the unpleasant experience of knowing some fellow traditionalist-leaning Catholics who nitpicked everything (liturgical or not) the priests did and gossiped about it.

    Back to the car angle, an older priest I knew was driving a Jaguar which was a gift from his cousin on the 25th anniversary of his ordination. What was Father supposed to do, slap his cousin in the face by selling the Jaguar and buying a used 1988 Chevy Nova instead? Anyhow Father was almost killed when 3 thugs in the hood jumped him and carjacked him, I kid you not… See this Baltimore Sun article from 2008:

    http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2008-05-20/news/0805190320_1_carjacking-james-miles-priest

    Sorry for the rant. For this rant alone, I will need to go to confession; I think I went way past righteous anger and into the not-so-righteous territory. I’m human after all, but remember all priests are human as well. Do what you can to support your priests (but without being motivated by a presumptuous pride).

  65. tzabiega says:

    I agree there are not enough priests, but a priest is called by God to the priesthood, so when he accepts it, it means a heck more responsibility then anywhere else. And therefore the priest should be willing to accept constructive criticism from his children, i.e. parishioners when he is not doing a good job as their father. Saying that priests cannot be criticized because some parishes don’t have priests is like saying that fathers of kids should not be criticized (including by their kids) when they don’t put enough effort into their relationship with their children because the children should simply be happy that they aren’t orphans or growing up with only their mother. When I am not living up to the standards of fatherhood in my family, my children let me know (quite respectfully–but it especially hurts when they are absolutely right). So priests should expect the same from parishioners. And criticisms in families are much sharper than anywhere else, so why do priests expect only hugs and high fives? A real man can take a criticism, even when unfair, and fortunately most priests are real men. But that sin of pride causes all of us to hate criticisms, though that is one of the best ways that God teaches us humility, something especially important for priests.

  66. zekarja says:

    Imrahil, as long as a man has only been validly married once in his life, he is not disqualified from being ordained. This is the ancient practice of the Church. Pope St Leo I among others speak on this fact. However, this priest’s marriage has been annulled, which means that he has never been validly married, not even once. It is certainly up to the discretion of the local bishop as to whether of not he was fit to be ordained. :)

  67. Tamquam says:

    My mother told me the story of the Monseigneur of her parish who had been a very successful stockbroker prior to following his vocation to the priesthood. He was assigned to a new parish out in the boonies. He built the parish plant with his personal fortune. He had some kind of position in the Chancery and used to be driven downtown every weekday morning after Mass in his chauffeured limousine with is two Scottish terriers by his side.

    I personally knew (God rest him) a Monseigneur who was a successful banker and who organized the finances of the parish to which he was assigned as pastor. He not only built the new church and parish center, but donated his very impressive library as well. He was a diabetic with the personality that this illness implies. Never the less a holy man.

    I knew a priest who as a retired Navy chaplain and who had invested wisely. Twice a month on his day off he would cook extravagant meals at his own expense and invite the other priests of the parish and sometimes friends in the parish to sumptuous dinners (virtual banquets). As an occasional invitee I can vouch for the fact that he was not only a excellent priest but an spectacular cook.

    I don’t know why people expect priests to be two dimensional cardboard cutouts rather than real men. Jesus was a real man, it is only to be expected that His priests will be real men also.

    Quod Jeannie_C dixit (What Jeannie_C said). You tell ‘em, kid!

  68. MarkG says:

    I totally agree with Father Z on this.

    People may have already seen this before, but this priest made the cover of US News celebrating a TLM. Instead of being glad for him and glad that a TLM made the cover, they criticized him. I thought that was really bad of them to do that.
    http://blog.adw.org/2011/07/say-what-you-mean-mean-what-say-but-dont-say-it-mean-on-the-tone-of-recent-mostly-deleted-comments/

  69. Norah says:

    A marriage was annulled and the man became a priest. No big deal.
    1. The priest drives a very expensive car.
    2 .The priest is frequently late for Mass.
    3. The priest’s sermons are mediocre.

    All of the 1,2 and 3 above could be a cause for scandal and we all know how little it takes for a Catholic to shake the dust of the Church off his feet and leave the Faith.

    1. However father got the car he is driving common sense would say to explain to the parish, perhaps in the Sunday newsletter: “In case you were wondering….”

    2. If father places so little value on the “source and summit of our Faith” that he frequently arrives late – which means that he hasn’t prepared himself for the august Sacrifice before the Blessed Sacrament – why should the laity of the parish value the Mass any higher than their parish priest.
    In my whole Catholic life I can only remember once a priest coming late to Mass and it was because he had an emergency call to the hospital.

    3. Father is a mediocre preacher. This would depend on one’s definition of mediocre. Catholic priests have a perhaps undeserved reputation for being poor preachers compared to Protestants.
    My parish priest is a mediocre preacher – God lurves you personal stuff and a bit of scripture interpretation thrown in if you are lucky all in 5 minutes. I have done nothing about this except compliment father when he has preached a good homily and tactfully questioned him when he was incorrect e.g. “outside the Church there is no salvation was shot down in flames at Vatican II”.
    I pray for my parish priest that he may take time to prepare more solid sermons but I say naught because of the serious shortage of priests; he celebrates Mass according to the rubrics except for solemn blessings.

  70. MarkG says:

    For the car deal, I had a similar experience:
    Years ago, when I worked as a gate agent for a American Airlines, whenever a priest or monk or nun would check in at the gate, I would always give them a free upgrade to first class if a seat was available, which it usually was back then.
    A lot of them would say they were afraid it would look bad for them to ride in first class. I would usually tell them that coach was pretty full and it was normal to move people to first class when coach was full.

  71. Alaina says:

    I agree with jilly4ski as well.

    When I was a kid, we had a priest in a priest in our parish that drove a red sports car. He came from a wealthy family. Didn’t change the fact that he sacrificed what every other priest sacrificed to serve God and to minister to our parish.

    Being “late” for mass, that could be for a number of reasons. We have a priest that used to say Mass for a church in another town, and would have to rush back to perform other duties in our parish. And as far as the mediocre sermons, maybe father knows everyone is gossiping about him behind his back. The Church handled his annulment. This person may want to educate themselves about the annulment process, because I know the point that he or she was trying to make by even mentioning the priest’s child and annulment. Maybe he or she could “tactfully” ask father to explain it. I’m also sure that the Church addressed everything about his past when he decided to spend years of studying to become a priest before he took his vows. As others have stated, he is human, and to have to get up and preach to a presumptuous, uncharitable congregation may be daunting.

    I think that this person may want to spend more time listening for their own calling from God, and go to confession for being so judgemental from a pew.

  72. Not all priests take vows of poverty. She seems to have the vow thing mistaken. Then there is the matter of the real question, how is she fulfilling her duties as wife, mother, and child of God. God deserves our full time and attention – that is enough for us to work on let alone try to pin down for others.

  73. RobW says:

    My parish priest drives a Hummer H3. Now I don’t have a problem with him driving a Hummer but I do have a problem with him acting like a priest who would drive a hummer….all laughs, high fives…like he’s running for mayor, no preaching on hell, contraception, abortion, the importance of Confession, sin etc…but immigration? OH YEA! And I have prayed for him.

  74. Supertradmum says:

    European comparisons.

    1) Daily in more than one parish, Mass is late. This is Ireland. No one minds. Things happen. Priests are at the hospitals, or at schools, or hearing Confessions. Or in traffic…

    No problem.

    2) Some priests have very nice cars, some have horrid cars and some have no cars. In some cases, because priests get so little money from the dioceses, the families buy the cars and get expensive ones to last a long time. These judgements based on cars are so misinformed and misleading. More and more priests are older vocations and had cars. The car obsession is a waste of time.

    3) Bad sermons. SO what? The preaching of the Gospel is not merely the priest’s duty but ours. Not all priests have the same natural gifts from God and learning how to preach does not guarantee life-time success. I do not ever expect good sermons and I when I get one, I am delighted, but to be honest, I do not go to Mass for the sermon, but for Jesus in the Eucharist.

    One can always go home and read 2,000 years of good sermons from the Doctors of the Church and the great saints even on line.

    4) Be glad you have a priest. Just wait. Just wait.

  75. Supertradmum says:

    Imrahil, you do not understand annulments. [Declarations of nullity.] And, there are more than one priest and nuns who are in convents and monasteries who have been married and have annulments.

    The Church has been merciful and not all people are responsible for failed relationships. IMO, this type of information is nobody’s business anyway, but then I come for Iowa, where it is bad form to talk about anyone’s past, or present business, even good news. MYOB is a good thing to learn.

    And remember, one of the greatest Doctors of the Church lived with a woman out of wedlock for a very long time and had a son. Would you deny the Church the great St. Augustine?

    Some women who are saints and founded orders had checkered pasts. So what? And some came from horrible families-poor St. Rita had evil men for a husband and sons.

    I think there is a considerable lack of charity in anyone trying to understand another’s sins and one should not even think about the failures or sins of others.

  76. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    I knew a lady once, who approached her parish priest. “Father,” she told him, “you have a splinter in your eye; let me help you to remove it.”

    “My daughter, no” the priest replied, “for the beam I see in your own eye will prevent your seeing well to remove any splinter I have.”

    And, realizing the he was right, the lady went away to cast out, with God’s help, the beam in her own eye.

  77. Priam1184 says:

    Father what can one do for a priest who stands up and says in his homily that the Catholic Church is not the only route to salvation, but just the one we have chosen, and that there is nothing special about it?

    PS I pray for him every morning and evening. The man must be in real torment.

    [Yes, pray for him. In the meantime, send a recording of him saying that to the local bishop indicating that you have also a copy for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.]

  78. Priam1184 says:

    @Tamquam I am a diabetic and am curious what kind of personality that this illness implies?

  79. robtbrown says:

    With priests who had a prior career, it is not uncommon that they bring a bit of money with them when they are ordained. A diocesan priest doesn’t have a vow of poverty. As long as he didn’t use parish funds to buy the car, there’s no scandal. Would it be better if he came from a family with no money or was less successful in the world?

    And there is no requirement that a man’s marriage be annulled before he’s ordained, only that his spouse agrees to the separation and that any financial obligations will continue to be fulfilled.

  80. Del says:

    I have no idea what kind of car my pastor drives.

    Was I supposed to pay attention to that?

  81. Palladio says:

    80 comments! Amen to Fr. Z., for starters, and to those who agree with him here.

    Then, without singling out any but the letter which started the discussion, may I suggest that that letter contains no patience or common sense, much less charity? To those for whom that is not obvious, let me also suggest what the letter–and some of the replies to it–does contain, more specifically than its protestant spirit: rush to judgment, arrogance, entitlement, temerity, … I don’t think it’s a short list, but I pray it’s all easily remedied.

    I’d give priests a Merc if I had the dough: nobody died in a Merc last year or the year before (also true of Audi), possibly depending on the model. I’d give each of my family one, too. The priest shows extreme prudence in owning one, especially given the spike in distracted driving in the U. S.: hats off to him!

    Our priest is habitually late. He’s there, but a hold up is very usual. It steams me, new to the parish, but an old altar boy who witnessed–the blessing of his life–reverence in all facets of Catholic liturgy and life. Then I realized, Father splits his time between two churches conjoined as one parish (or whatever) .

    If laity do not show extraordinary kindness and more to their priests shame on them.

  82. Tamquam: “May the words of the Gospel be in my mind, on my lips and in my heart”

    Recalling when the good sisters taught all first communicant to say this while making the triple sign of the cross before the Gospel at Mass, I wonder whether this ancient pious custom is still being taught so assiduously, and how many kids of all ages still say these words. Surely it’s one of the few things that, once learned, is never forgotten. Like saying “My Lord and my God” when gazing at the Sacred Host as it is elevated after the consecration. (I’ll bet there are Catholics today who’ve never even heard of this custom, for which St. Pius X granted a partial indulgence.)

  83. Imrahil says:

    Dear @Supertradmum (and others)

    I do understand annulments. I was thinking alound from common impression and that sort of thing. By common impression, an annulment, while indeed declaring there never was an actual marriage, is also about that a relationship (and one of an official nature, putative marriage, at that) has been unsuccessful, and that the two persons – given that they are not held by the marriage bond – are free to marry anew (or, marry truly). But does it not, for all that, say that a choice for the married life has somehow been decided? And reasonings like that.

    After all, the Church herself has the concept of a putative marriage which is not unimportant in law.

    Point taken on St. Augustine. He was a sinner who converted; he had a concubine and a child, for which he was a good father.
    It’s the odd thing that you can convert from sins, but as for guiltless irregularities, as the Church calls them (which a previous putative marriage is not, but which, if this sort of thinking has any place at all, it would belong to in lesser form, category-wise), they rarely go away…

    Of course I do not think he should have not answered the Lord’s call to enter seminary. My feeling of oddness – not criticism – is if anything on the bishop’s side. Nor does it rest on any assumption of guilt, or on his personal aptness, merely on his aptness by general and objective categories. I do not think that is presuming on other’s sins or uncharitable.

  84. robtbrown says:

    Priam1184 says:

    Father what can one do for a priest who stands up and says in his homily that the Catholic Church is not the only route to salvation, but just the one we have chosen, and that there is nothing special about it?

    Most of what these priests do is a consequence of their seminary formation. NB: In those seminaries those who didn’t follow the liberal line were pressured or ordered to leave.

    This is one reason why I don’t buy the strategy that obedience will solve the present problems. These men were obedient in seminaries and houses of formation that were canonically erected.

  85. wmeyer says:

    My favorite local priest was, before he found his calling, a microbiologist. He may well have salted away a very impressive personal fund; I have no idea–it’s none of my business. he does not, as it happens, drive a fancy car. On the other hand, he is very devoted to prayer, considers the celebration of the Mass the high point of his day, and gives some of the best homilies I have heard. He also is my confessor of choice, and a tremendously helpful friend in my spiritual growth.

    If he chose to drive a Mercedes, I would have no concern. I would applaud his sense in selecting a vehicle with high quality and lasting value. If he were to buy a $15,000 tiny car, I would have concerns, and would ask why he chose a vehicle in which he might easily be injured or worse, in even a relatively minor accident. Priests may be called to service at any hour, and in any weather or traffic. If he can afford a really excellent vehicle, I would consider it a prudent investment.

  86. Andkaras says:

    If we understood how necessary our sacraments were, especially the final one, we would equip our Priests with helicopters.

  87. we tactfully w/o being patronizing tell him all the things we DO like about him.

  88. LarryW2LJ says:

    I just joined in on this topic and have admittedly, not read all the comments, but I have to get something off my chest with regards to Fr’s line about the “Perfect Priest” – “The results of a computerized survey indicate the perfect priest preaches exactly fifteen minutes.”

    I recently finished a 4 year stint on our Parish Pastoral Council – the normal term is 3 years, but because of turnover, I was asked to stay on for an additional year to provide some continuity. One of the most common “complaints” that I would hear over and over again was about the length of sermons – that they were too long.

    I always had to do the deep breathing excersizes like Fr. Z before responding, because quite frankly, this attitude tics me off. We do not go to Mass to be entertained, we do not go to Mass “to get something out of it”. We go to Mass to adore and worship God, take part in the Sacrifice of the Mass, and maybe, hopefully, learn a little in the process.

    We have two priests in our parish, the pastor and one associate for over 2000 families. We have a Mass on Saturday and two on Sunday. I have listened to both of these men’s homilies. Yes, they may go on a little long now and then, but they are both good homilists! They never give a homily that would put you to sleep, if you would just bother to listen!. And yes, you have to make an effort to listen, but golly, what are you there for in the first place? Just to get the obligation done? If you’re at Mass for that reason and that reason only, then you’re in my prayers, because that’s NOT the reason to go to Mass.

    Sorry for the rant Father, and I may be way off base and you can correct me if necessary, but this is a topic that really pushes my “hot button”.

  89. MarkG says:

    Wow… tough crowd… people should support be grateful and support their priests, monks, nuns, etc.

  90. Midgie says:

    I registered just so I could respond to this thread. I had a Priest one day who read his homily from a piece of paper. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ Well, I was reading a book about Padre Pio and it was mentioned we should ask his help for our Priests, so I did. That Sunday the Priest did a homily that had me on the edge of my seat…and never once read from a piece of paper. I kept saying, “Wow…thank you, Padre Pio!!” Later that week, I saw the Priest and spoke with him and he was all excited telling me what happened to him. It was a small mission church I attended and this Priest pastored a couple of parishes, so we had Confession before Mass in our parish. He said while he was sitting in the Confessional he realized he forgot his prepared homily and began to feel panicky. There was no time for him to retrieve it, so he prayed with all his heart for the Holy Spirit to help him. His homily that day came from his heart and it was Spirit-filled….and he knew it!

    I never told him about me asking for Padre Pio’s intercession for him, but I did thank Padre Pio because I don’t believe that was a coincidence.

    Truly, …..”The prayers of a righteous man availeth much.” The Saints in Heaven are righteous and their prayers are powerful.

    God bless you

  91. BLB Oregon says:

    There was a priest whose car was running badly who took it to a local mechanic, one of his parishioners. The mechanic looked it over and gave him the bad news about how costly the repair would be. The priest said to the mechanic, “Oh, please, don’t you think you could do it for less? I’m only a poor preacher?” The mechanic replied “A poor preacher? Oh, Father, you’re right about that! You’re about the poorest preacher we’ve ever had!”

    I do not see what harm there is in saying, “Father, we’re happy to have you here, but is there a reason Mass almost never starts on time? Fifteen minutes is a long time to keep kids from getting restless, and it’s not like we can just start showing up late and hope you can be counted on to start late.” (If it is only five minutes or so, let it go. It’s a church, not a Japanese train station.)

    The car is no one’s business, and does not reflect badly on the priest unless his overall lifestyle is an offense against simplicity of life. Even then, that does not mean the priest is paying for it out of his inheritance at the expense of the poor, or something. For all this parishioner knows, the priest has the car for free from someone who runs a dealership. Don’t begrudge him what may only be that someone else wants to break the alabaster jar. When people want to do nice things for others, especially priests, others should refrain from jealousy about it.