I received this from a priest, in an undisclosed location (edited and with my emphases and comments):
Over the past year of my ordination I have found myself facing many things I was seriously not prepared to face. They are in a sense, small minute things one might never think become a cloud to overshadow the zeal and joy of the priesthood, but in fact they are. They are temptations to discouragement and not for those with thin-skin. My skin is beginning to thicken. [This is what happens. The trick is not to let the heart harden. That is usually a liberal trait, but it can happen to the more traditional as well. And because the traditional side is the better side, the hard of heart on the traditional side are even uglier than liberals. Corruptio optimi pessima.]
Since I’ve been in the parish I have been assaulted with judgments about the clothing I wear. For some, they assume the utter worst in a priest who wears his clerics. [This generally means a black shirt or suit with the “roman” collar. Let’s not rule out cassock, which is the true garment of the cleric, even today.] It means he is judgmental or a clericalist. It can’t possibly mean that he loves being a priest and that he wants to always be available to others. If that were not bad enough, a priest sometimes wears a cassock. For many things reminds them of the pre-Vatican II days, where priests apparently were disciplinarians to the point of abuse. [And in their dreams, or faulty imaginings or memories – but sometimes in fact – that could have been true.] Now today, most people in my generation think they look cool and remind us of the Matrix. But of course, it is far more common-sense for people in my generation to be more Pre-Vatican II-meanies (even though most people my age don’t even know what Vatican II is). [See my posts about why liberals of a certain age freak out if they see black. In essence, it is an attack on their identity, because their identity was formed in a period of anti-authoritarianism tied up with Vatican II, the civil rights movement, anti-Vietnam War protests, drugs, sexual revolution, etc. They have a knee-jerk reaction. They think you are criticizing them when you wear a collar or if the hear Latin or a Greek kyrie or a certain style of vestment. It’s all about them, not you. They can’t help it.]
I was reading the documents on the Liturgy and noticed that Vatican II taught that Latin was to be preserved to some degree in the liturgy, [a great degree!] and Gregorian chant was preferred. So I introduced the Kyrie (which falls under the same spirit of maintaining the Latin) and these three little Greek words started world war III – because no one understood them apparently. [They don’t understand Sanctus Sanctus Sanctus either, even though they seem to be okay with Spanish Santo Santo Santo. See my comments, above. It’s okay if it is la voz del Pueblo, but if it is in Latin, you are attacking them on the ground floor of their identity. They are irrational. There is nothing we can do about them but persevere. These are the same people who were willing to break people’s hearts and stomp on their faith back when the great “spirit of Vatican II” revolution was underway. They didn’t care about anyone else then, but we are supposed to really care about what they feel now. Some people are more equal than others.] Three words…and I’m pretty sure that most people could figure out at least one of them (Christi). And if people actually read the bulletin…problem would have been solved. The worst part of it all has been the anonymous letters and essays, the “behind your back” complaints to the Pastor and Higher-Up folks and then the smiling faces and complete disregard for the principle of subsidiarity or the Gospel of Matthew which teaches us to go to the person we have a problem with directly. [Yes, my young Jedi. You are beginning to get it. Welcome to the battle for the Faith.]
When I step out on the street, generally now I assume people are assessing my clothing, wondering when …. or they may wonder why I’m eating out and why the cook (who no longer is present here) isn’t making my meals. [I like the Italian word “ficcanaso” … a “nose-sticker-in-er”.]
People are nosey, and many of them are incredibly rude, judgmental and place heavy burdens on their leaders. They take Christ’s criticisms on the leaders of the Church and perpetually apply them to justify themselves. They gossip and this is by far the more grievous sin of all of it.
If they talk during the liturgy and then are corrected, they make the priest to feel as if the offensive behaviour was on the part of the priest who unfortunately interrupted their conversation during mass, with the Homily. People are furious that one teaches what the Church teaches because, “That is not why I come to Church.” I now understand why priests leave the Church in the first five years. Both brother priests gossiping and parishioners who handle a younger priest can’t tell them they need to repent are the source of incredible discouragement to the priesthood these days. And if the priest has a weak faith, he will allow all of it to send him running away from his cross like the coward he is. And we all have a little coward in us, it’s our sinful inclination. But alas, endurance and harassment builds character. So a shout out to all the naysayers, you will make a saint out of me by the grace of God!
Hang in there, Father. People here will read this and stop – now – and say a prayer for you.
Also, know that you are not alone.
One piece of advice. Try to cultivate in yourself a light spirit about these people and a measure of spiritual care for them, which they need. But try not to give a damn about what they do or say. Most of the time we will get ourselves into more of a pickle because we made the mistake of caring what they do or say enough to react and give them something else to pick at.
There are some people who are happy only when they are unhappy. You are meeting some. You will meet a great many more.
Be of good cheer and know that the Biological Solution, which is working on all of us, will take care of a few of these problems in short order.
Keep smiling and be that Roman Catholic priest you were meant to be.
I’ll keep the combox open, but I will turn on the moderation feature. I’ll check from time to time and release the comments which it pleaseth me to release.