GUEST POST: How to get the pastor to listen to a request.

Over the years I have offered tips on how to write to ecclesiastical officials, make requests in parishes, obtain your objective to have a TLM, etc. I have lately started adding that we have to be more careful these days about how we present these requests because liberals are emboldened right now. We have to be careful because it is possible that we can lose in parishes what it has taken a long time to build.

There are times when the attitude of the petitioners, the tone used, turns into the issue and the petition is lost, which is just fine with the liberals you have to deal with. But this also goes for making your petitions to more conservative or traditional priests and bishops as well. They, too, have attitude meters. They are often over-worked and stressed and, when they see someone coming who makes demands or who is aggressive, they shut down. Look: priests are human, too.

Another point: patient and cordial persistence can win the day.

So, for your Brick By Brick file, I now share something from a reader (edited):

Some time ago I contacted you regarding my wish to have monthly Adoration established at my parish. [Father....] became our pastor following a liberal pastor and the feminists who ran things in the Spirit of Vatican II, etc.

I approached Fr. and received a lukewarm reception but I asked him occasionally about my suggestion. Today we had coffee and donuts after mass and we sat together for long enough so that I was able to suggest that he might consider beginning with a series of homilies reflecting on the value of adoration and respect for the presence (your suggestion) and slowly work into scheduled Adoration. I also brought up Our Ladies request for Five First Saturdays Devotion. I was surprised that he did not seem to be familiar with this devotion. At any rate, he agreed to take a more serious look at Adoration. l offered to assist in any way.

I appreciate your suggestion as it led me to rethink my aggressive approach and take smaller steps to achieve my goal. I think he feels less pressure with this suggestion with what he must already be dealing within the parish following the previous pastor.

It takes a long time to undo erroneous or non existent catechesis.

Pray for success,

I will and I am sure the readers here will stop for a moment and say a Memorare for your project.

Something that helps in making a request like this is the assurance that the pastor himself is not going to have to fill in the open adoration time slots. This has to be a project that is lay run from top to bottom and Father can work his way in as his heavy schedule away from the adoration chapel allows.

Finally, as St. Francis de Sales might put it:

“Soyez toujours le plus doux que vous pourrez, et souvenez-vous que l’on prends plus de mouches avec une cuillère de miel qu’avec cent barils de vinaigre.”

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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16 Responses to GUEST POST: How to get the pastor to listen to a request.

  1. Ray says:

    What you are recommending is kind of like our Marines at the Chosin Reservoir. They advanced to the rear, rather than saying they retreated. I’m a bit mystified by this tactic!!

  2. Ray: No. That is not at all what I advocated.

  3. Ray says:

    Father Z, thanks for your quick reply. I get the message you sent in the original post. Sometimes, I revert to being a bit of a bugger. This is an improvement from being a horrid sinner in my past life. I’m striving to move toward sainthood and dislike feeling that I must slide backward in any way to accommodate our more liberal brethren. Your the best, Padre. Hope the remainder of your stay in Roma is most enjoyable. More pictures of your food selections appreciated….

  4. jennieprater says:

    Dear Reader: May God bless your good work. I prayed a Memorare for your success. :-)

  5. jbas says:

    I’m the pastor/PP of a tiny parish of 85 families, but even here I get many requests for new pastoral initiatives. I usually have several factors to consider, and so I need patience on the part of the one making the request. A lack of patience does not add anything to my enthusiasm about the initiative.

  6. Palladio says:

    jbas, most interesting, Father. I remember wondering when on earth our parish was going to have the EF after SP. But I recoiled at the chatter of the faithful who wondered so out loud a bit, I thought, too much. I had given up, without mentioning it to our pastor, when, lo and behold, the EF appeared. So if I had patience, or was just a coward, something few people seemed to expect happened, all to the good, AMGD.

  7. Cascade_Catholic says:

    Dear Reader, so very sorry for your trouble. I offered a Memorare on your behalf.

    Father Z, after reading this, I realize how blessed we are to have what we have and have so thanked our pastor. They need to hear what they are doing right as much as what they aren’t.

    Blessings.

  8. Stephen McMullen says:

    Ugh. The French sent me scurrying to the French dictionary. The best I can make out is that
    “you will get more results with a spoonful of honey than with barrels of vinegar…..”

  9. Nancy D. says:

    With thanks and gratitude to all those faithful priests and nuns who continue to lead us in Christ, The Truth of Love.

  10. Legisperitus says:

    If I’m remembering my high-school French correctly, it should be “l’on prend” rather than “l’on prends.” If not, then sorry to take up your time.

    Either way, the French is à propos for these times when traditionally-inclined Catholics are “on the qui vive.”

  11. StWinefride says:

    Yes, “l’on prend” is correct.

    Also, St Francis de Sales’ saying has “une cuillerée de miel” – a spoonful of honey instead of “cuillère” (a spoon).

  12. JonPatrick says:

    Ray I’m not familiar with that particular battle, but sometimes retreating is necessary as a tactic to preserve your forces to fight another day rather than squandering them. A commander has to think of the big picture and his overall strategy. Also where a frontal assault might be met with an overwhelming response, laying siege and gradually wearing the enemy down might work better especially if they are well entrenched, like Liberals are in today’s church.

  13. Phil_NL says:

    “I also brought up Our Ladies request for Five First Saturdays Devotion. I was surprised that he did not seem to be familiar with this devotion. “

    Don’t be surprised. One the one hand, one would expect the various devotions to be found among the faithful to be part of the seminary curicullum. But on the other hand, a frequent reader of this blog would know the formation in most seminaries is less than ideal.

    At any rate, never forget that while such devotions come to some Catholics as naturally as breathing, to others they simply don’t form part of the equation. If it doesn’t resonate with a person, that doesn’t make him any less Catholic. But it often happens that neither type can see where the other is coming from.

    So one would need to distinguish between the following situations:
    a) doesn’t know about it, wouldn’t care much by his own accord: inform him, and gently make it clear that some people do care greately, ask a favor on their behalf.
    b) doesn’t know, does care: inform, rather than try to take the place by storm
    c) does know, doesn’t care (and doesn’t want to): the hard cases. Lot’s of perseverance will be needed.
    d) does know, does care: take some work out of Father’s hands. Otherwise, he’d probably done so already.

  14. PA mom says:

    And, while combining devotions might be tempting, maybe weekends are either very busy for priests or concern him as far as adequate traffic. Our parish has Tuesday weekly adoration, advertised in the diocesan newspaper, and it seems to be fairly well attended.

  15. Sonshine135 says:

    For our reader I would suggest asking your Knights of Columbus for help, even if you do not have a Council or Assembly assigned to your Church. Each Council has a Church Director who would be happy to facilitate adoration. Contact the Grand Knight and ask for help. You are by no means asking too much.

  16. JaneC says:

    Also, many suggestions about how to get your pastor to listen to your request also apply toward getting your parish music director to listen. My husband is a church music director and has had several conversations like this:

    Congregant: “You’ve started singing chant at Mass. We can’t understand what you’re saying, and we don’t like that.”
    Music Director: “Um, I’m sorry…I am only trying to do what the Church asks.”
    Congregant: “If you can’t give us worship aids with the translations every week, or buy us all hand missals with the propers in them, you should stop singing chant.”

    But recently he had a conversation that went like this:
    Congregant: “I love that you’ve started singing the proper chants at Mass, but some of the people my age in the congregation are a little hard of hearing and can’t understand the words. Do you think you could provide some photocopies of the text for people who want them?”
    Music Director: “I’d love to, but I can’t provide very many copies. Making lots of photocopies is expensive and my budget is very small.”
    Congregant: “Maybe you could put them on the parish website! The more tech-savvy seniors could print them out at home, or just read them in advance. But for those of us who don’t have internet at home, let me write you a check to help with that budget problem.”

    Approach #1: criticize and complain. Result: bewildered and annoyed music director.
    Approach #2: compliment, make request, offer solutions. Result: happy music director and a speedy resolution to the issue.