ASK FATHER: Hard choices about a priest and a parish

From a reader…

Father, my heart aches over this. Having heard you speak and read your blog over the years, I believe you can guide me with wisdom, charity, and moderation.

We have attended a TLM parish for over ten years. Many families have left our parish to go to other parishes where the TLM is now offered, and our parish is not growing, possibly shrinking. The reason or part of the reason why some of those TLM-loving people have left is the pastor’s behavior.

In the past, I was better able to let it slide off my back, or rationalize it, but I am less and less able since seeing good and faithful Catholics I care about hurt. But I also realize my feelings could be motivated by self love, because my own life is harder and I long for some support and encouragement. (I know that sounds warm and fuzzy. Sorry.)

At times, I have felt so beaten down that the thought has gone through my head that maybe I shouldn’t be Catholic anymore. Not rational, I know. But it’s hard when we are doing our best to live our Faith fully and authentically with all of life’s challenges but are given the message from the pulpit that we are slacking in one way or another.

The proverbial stuff hit the fan after Mass last Sunday when my husband said he was never going back. Since the, St. Peter’s words are constantly in my heart, “To whom would I go? You have the words of everlasting life.”

To complicate matters, there’s the question of using the 62 Missal and the earlier one for Holy Week and Pentacost. There are murmurings about that. Is this a serious issue that I should be concerned about? Is it disobedience? Obedience to the Church is essential to me, even when things seem wacky out there.

At this point I wouldn’t worry much about the use of the pre-1955 Holy Week rites.  The older books are used in some places.  This is an issue that, over time, will get sorted out.   We have a lot of rebuilding to do before we get worked up about that.

Meanwhile, I’ll address myself to other points.

For many years now, in certain places, faithful, orthodox Catholics have suffered. Much of it has been at the hands of the very pastors who should guide, comfort, and bless them, thus leading them closer to God.  A couple things have resulted.

On one hand, these faithful,orthodox Catholics have idealized a past (or fantasized about a future) wherein pastors were perfect, the faith was lived in a full and vibrant manner, and everything combined to create villages or neighborhoods full of saints.  On the other hand, some inflate conflict where there are just minor disagreements.  They are happy only when they are unhappy and they bring about the drama and circumstances whereby their expectations are self-fulfilled.

Both paths can undermine real spiritual growth.

It is good to strive for perfection. We can and must look to the past for a guide.  We have to do so soberly. Pastors of souls, since the time of the apostles, are – gulp – human.  They have faults and failings and sins that work against their own march toward heaven.  They can be scandalous to the faithful they lead. Pray for your fallible pastors, especially the ones with whom you disagree.

Even the most liberal, angry, bitter, immature priest is loved by Jesus Christ, who desires his salvation.

Satan wants us to lose hope, give up, to stop striving for holiness, to get involved in petty disputes, to allow the sins of others to drag us down, to lose our faith, and, by so doing, to fall directly into his clutches.

Don’t let him win.

Pray harder.

Be stubborn about your faith.

Invoke the Blessed Virgin, your Guardian Angel, St. Michael, all the saints, and push through.

Be faithful.

Examine your conscience and …

GO TO CONFESSION!

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27 Responses to ASK FATHER: Hard choices about a priest and a parish

  1. APX says:

    When a priest speaks from the pulpit, he is speaking to everyone in general, not one person in particular. We all have our challenges, for many Catholics (even TLM-going Catholics) they aren’t doing as much as they could. Leaving a parish because the pastor is trying to push to do more seems a bit of self love, IMHO.

  2. un-ionized says:

    I could have sent this inquiry. It’s one thing to tsk tsk over something you read about that a cardinal or the Pope has said that seems wrong but it’s quite another to have first hand knowledge of the depth of the problem of priests who obviously are living double lives and are taught in seminary to parrot things that the laity are supposed to believe but don’t themselves believe.

    I don’t find fault with anyone who has left the Church for any reason at all.

    A priest I know who is a historian explains to me that it is the internal fighting in the Church which is the whole point. Separating the sheep from the goats occurs in parishes and chanceries, not out in the world where everybody is a goat.

    And a large part of the process is for the head goats in charge to pretend that they are shepherds and to call the real sheep goats while currying favor with the other goats who are jockeying for position in the inner circles of parishes and chanceries so they can be enablers of the head goats’ immorality.

    I get a kick out of the Office of Readings every year when Augustine’s sermon on pastors comes around. I see so much of what I have experienced in there that I think my priest friend may be right.

    The casual acceptance of all of this is hard to see as well. But that is part of the process. I have been dealing with Pharisees who tithe their mint and cumin and call the poor people outside the door “con artists.” A parish with an abusive priest can be a seething cauldron of purgation or it can be a hell which separates you from God.

    Sometimes, as I have said in another context here, if the hostility is unfixable you can be forced to move on because the problem is coming between you and Christ. And whatever decision you make for yourself is the correct one as no one else is living your life at that place and time.

  3. anilwang says:

    “given the message from the pulpit that we are slacking in one way or another”

    But we are all slacking in some ways or other, aren’t we, since few of us are saints?

    If you read pre-Vatican II devotionals, it can be jarring at times. The standards seem so high, so stoic, so gloomy, so nittpicky….and these days we simply do not have the culture, the solidly Catholic community, and daily devotional practices to live up to those standards. And yet post Vatican II tend to suffer the exact opposite fault, too low, to hyper sensitive. so syrupy, so carelessly presumptuous…. It’s hard to find a devotional that has a proper balance of encouragement so you don’t give up and challenge to strive for sainthood.

    It’s harder still to find a priest who can do this balance. Pray for your priest, and do talk to him. These days, holding onto TLM is a lonely battle and it’s easy to get paranoid since many priests are only a bishop reassignment away from being shipped off to “Our Lady of the Postmodern Factory” parish in Lgbt Rulez-ville.

    In the mean time, IMO, it would be a good idea to change your devotional practices to include some devotions of encouragement. There is a reason the Divine Mercy devotions were instituted. IMO, they’re too “syrupy” for these modern times, but if all you’re hearing from the pulpit is that 3 out of a billion are saved and even the slightest fault is repulsive to God and hell worthy, such devotions provide the necessary balance not to give up and keep trying.

  4. SaintJude6 says:

    I’d be really interested to hear what the pastor has said that makes people feel as though they were “slacking in one way or another.” My husband said one of the things he liked best about the priests at our TLM parish is precisely that they point out to us where we are slacking, and constantly call us to go deeper in our Faith. What exactly has been said that is making families leave? How many left specifically due to the pastor, and how many left for TLM parishes closer to where they live or that offered more in parish life (homeschool co-op, young adults group, women’s spirituality group) beyond the Mass?

  5. MrsMacD says:

    My two cents™

    #1.) Have Masses said for your priest, get everyone you know who can to have Masses offered for your priest, there is no greater prayer in the universe.

    #2.) Say rosaries for your priest, Our Lady promised to give us anything we ask for with the rosary, plus next to the Mass it’s the most powerful prayer. Make a spiritual bouquet for him at the parish. Our priests are humans. We need priests. We need holy priests. Lets help them out. Give them a boost. Didn’t Jesus say,”Do good to those who persecute you.”? How much more good should we do for those who bless us and hear our confessions and give us Communion and and and, even if they’re obnoxious.

    #3) Jesus never asks too much. Humans ask too much, and it’s way easier to point at everyone else’s faults than to work hard on your own, also a person who is working hard on his virtues is tempted to be hard on everone else.

    May God grant you His own Holy peace.

  6. Mr. Graves says:

    Given the fact that her husband said he wouldn’t attend this particular parish anymore, isn’t this woman’s first duty here to worship with her husband and family? If there is self-love in submitting to her husband’s authority, I’m not seeing it.

  7. WVC says:

    Howdy. The original post isn’t large on specifics, which is probably a good thing, but “slacking” can be defined a myriad of ways. Is it slacking in our devotion or virtue? Obviously we all will always have room to grow in those two categories; even if the message is delivered harshly it can be applied in a way that increases one’s humility (although I did lose my cool when one priest once suggested we all learn how to pray by studying the prayer life of Muslims).

    However, I have often witnessed priests accusing folks of slacking in the “social activist” way – and that DOES get under one’s saddle. Priests complaining that I’m not giving enough food to feed local folks who are by no means starving, or be more supportive of illegal immigrants, or sell all my belongings to send to support a relief charity that is already receiving billions of dollars in taxpayer funds . . . etc. Some of those causes may be worthwhile, others not, but room for discussion being overtaken by dictatorial berating can cause many a sore feeling (i.e. you’re just not a good Catholic if you don’t give to the Campaign for Human Development . . .etc.).

    However, to tie this to the previous post about difficulties with a pastor, my concern is what are we, the laity, really allowed to do? I agree 100% on praying, fasting, and trying to work through friendship to support and encourage a pastor that is causing conflict (including providing him great books and resources on the liturgy, theology, how to give a sermon . . . etc.). I’m assuming that trying to contact the bishop would be the next step. However, when all that fails, and assuming we’re not allowed to inflict personal harm upon his person or possessions, what do we do? Running away only lets the bad priest win and abandons those who are unable to leave (c.f. the elderly folks mentioned in the “Veil Wars” comments). We don’t stop praying, but what else is allowed?

    I have an active imagination, so I have plenty of ideas. Aside from encouraging as many folks as possible, Latin Mass and otherwise, to voice their complaints to the pastor, I’ve considered:

    -writing letters to the local newspaper

    -writing letters to every other priest in the diocese

    -staging protests in front of the church (the more visible the better) – if the priest forbids the use of the confessional, setting up confessionals in the yard in front of the church – stuff like that

    -handing out pamphlets to everyone who attends Mass there (i.e. tracts that outline the specific problems – liturgical abuse, hostility towards a community, unavailability of the sacraments) rife with references to official Church documents pointing out how the pastor is wrong

    -hanging signs on trees all around the property

    -leaving signs on the pastor’s car’s windshield

    ….etc…etc..etc.

    I want to emphasize, I’m NOT doing any of the above, nor am I in a situation that would make me even consider the above. Also, I would never endorse any form of protest that took place in the church or during any liturgy.

    I recognize that all of those things are, to some degree, antagonizing and potentially scandalous. However, if any pastor comes to our parish and tries to harm the community, besmirch the liturgy, or dampen our faith, I’m afraid I’m going to be first in line in leading the counter-charge assuming all peaceful negotiations fail. I feel like there must be some other option than a.) – run away or b.) – do nothing while a bad priest does his best to gut your faith community. I believe parish life is worth fighting for.

    Would taking any of the above actions be sinful? I know there’s a line between Peppone vs. Don Camillo as opposed to Henry IV vs. Gregory VII – I’m not looking to be excommunicated or mired in mortal sin. However, I’d rather ponder these things when I’m not faced with a dilemma rather than trusting my judgment in the heat of the moment.

    Also, Heaven help the yahoos who thought multiple choice on everything was a good idea for the Church. From which way the priest should face, tabernacle veils or not, receiving the Sacred Blood, altar girls, guitars and bongos, lay ministers for Eucharist, Communion in the hand or tongue, women head coverings, . . . etc. – every choice really has just allowed us humans to find more and more and more things to argue about, factionalize over, and make a huge mess of what ought to be pretty straightforward. But I digress.

    I welcome all thoughts and comments – even those that tell me how wrong-headed I am.

  8. VexillaRegis says:

    I think un-ionized is spot on here. A priest I know tells his congregation every Sunday how worthless, sinful, and presumptious “we” are and that if “we” happen to do something good, that’s a fluke or something “we” did with the wrong intention. When your child says you with tears in his/her eyes: ” mummy, I don’t want to go to Hell like Fr. says we all will!” you know you HAVE to move to another parish. This sort of person takes every bit of Hope from you.

  9. Phil_NL says:

    It’s unclear here if the priest in question is simply of the fire-and-brimstone variety that sees sin and failure everywhere and anytime, or that he is up to other antics. WVC is probably right that the specifics might best be kept out of this.

    But that approach only allows for general observations. And my 2c in that sense is the following: a priest is not there to raise your blood pressure. If he does, as a side effect because he wants to lead his flock to Heaven, then you might consider bearing it, and pray for the graces to make him succeed with less effort, for his sake and yours. If he raises your blood pressure for wholly other purposes, or simply because his character is such that whatever comes out of his mouth or hands will do this, then by all means, do not subject yourself to this priest anymore.

    Of course, depending on circumstances that may be easy or hard – alternatives may be close by or very far afield. But the idea that one would be condemned to a priest that simply drives you away from the Church sounds like a cross you needn’t bear. Life has enough battles already; best have your weekly Mass as a safe stronghold, rather than another battlefield.

  10. pannw says:

    “I don’t find fault with anyone who has left the Church for any reason at all.”

    What? I don’t understand this statement at all. Is this sort of a “Who am I to judge?” comment? It is a very odd statement for anyone who believes Jesus is Truly Present in the Holy Eucharist, and in the Church founded by Him upon the rock of Peter.

    While I fully understand the need to ‘parish shop’ in these days of dissent, confusion, liturgical abuse, etc… or the example by VexillaRegis, since some parishes can actually be near occasions of sin for the anger they invoke, to leave The Church all together is just a tragedy (quite possibly a deadly one). It isn’t about the priest, or the bishop, or the dissident ‘catholic’ politicians, or even the Pope; it is about Jesus, Truly Present, and His instructions. Seriously, she is right, “To whom shall we go?”

    “Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink His blood, you have not life in you.”

    That is all that matters in the grand scheme of things. As my pastor tells us fairly often, “Eyes on Jesus.” I know it is easy for me to say, with the blessing of a wonderful priest, (Deo gratias.) but it is the truth.

    Not knowing the specifics, it is hard to offer suggestions beyond agreeing with Fr. Z and some of the others. I particularly agree with anilwang, but if there doesn’t seem to be a way to rectify the relationship with the priest, the obvious solution seems to be to follow the other families to the other parishes, and definitely not leave The Church. Perhaps the bishop will realize there is a problem and step in and offer some sort of counseling for the priest. Sometimes they are just burned out and need a lengthy retreat to replenish their own faith and find peace. Perhaps someone needs to contact the bishop directly if it hasn’t been done. If there are other TLM parishes near enough for the other families, and it sounds like there are more than one, the bishop would seem to be friendly to the TLM and perhaps could be of assistance and help the parish and the priest, who apparently really needs it. He is in such a position of responsibility and if he is pushing faithful Catholics away or into despair…God have mercy. It isn’t like faithful priests who ‘run off’ dissident ‘catholics’. He really needs prayers.

  11. un-ionized says:

    pannw, you are making a lot of assumptions and going overboard. I merely have no ill will toward anyone who is driven out of the Church, on judgment day it will go very hard on those who have done the driving, especially when they are priests. Sometimes people have no alternative parish as is the case in rural areas and there it ends. When one is in receipt of an abusive threatening letter from one’s pastor it is over, for example. Or when one is told to get out and not given a reason and the bishop or provincial does nothing, or even encourages the abuse. These are trying times and it does ill to be mean to people who have been so deeply wounded.

  12. Ben Kenobi says:

    “I don’t find fault with anyone who has left the Church for any reason at all.”

    Let me tell you a story – two in fact. I’m a bit surprised Fr didn’t address her husband. Fr, this was a cry for help from a very lonely and sad woman to a man that she trusts. “Help me keep my husband in the faith!” Anyways, the story. One is from a Catholic convert from a protestant church. Another is from a Catholic, born and raised in the Church. Two people, two problems. Both have, over the last year or so had rumblings about leaving. Partially over their dissatisfaction with Francis and the direction that they saw the Church heading. Both have actually walked out left, and come back. Both have written in anger and frustration at Francis and his style of leadership. One fellow – wrote to thank me later on for helping him stay. All I told him is that he would regret leaving as you cannot put new wine in old wineskins. He himself had changed from his earlier faith and he has since come back. I was surprised, I did not say much but apparently the Holy Spirit helped me say what he needed. The other lady – wonderful lady realized that Francis was not the point. Francis will pass on another will take his place. But. In the end. The Church will remain. She too, thanked me. Both have in the past while encouraged and uplifted me and helped me.

    We all have burdens. We need to be helping one another bear those burdens.

  13. Ben Kenobi says:

    “I merely have no ill will toward anyone who is driven out of the Church, on judgment day it will go very hard on those who have done the driving, especially when they are priests.”

    If a brother or sister fell overboard, would you let them sink or try to save them from drowning? Does it matter *how* they fell in, only that they are in the water and need help? This is a serious matter. These men and women could lose their faith entirely and end up in hell.

  14. pannw says:

    un-ionized, I don’t see how I was going overboard and making assumptions. You said straight up you didn’t “find fault” if someone left The Church “for any reason”. You didn’t specify that they had been threatened or told to get out. You said for ‘any’ reason. I know people who leave The Church because they didn’t like the teaching on contraception or homosexuality, people who have left because of the handling of the abuse scandal, etc… According to your statement, you don’t find fault with that and would find it ‘mean’ if anyone faulted them and told them it was an enormous and potentially deadly (spiritually) mistake. Perhaps you could be a little less broad and vague with such a pronouncement.

    For the record, I agree that it will be bad for the priest driving people away, but I don’t see anything ‘mean’ about telling someone they are in error if they leave The Church for any reason. They are leaving Christ, Truly Present.

    The very next thing Jesus said to the Apostles when they asked “To whom shall we go?” was also quite relevant to the post. Jesus answered them: “Have not I chosen you twelve; and one of you is a devil?” I see that as a warning that there will be lousy, even wicked priests. I don’t think that is an excuse to leave The Church. And I don’t think it is mean to point out any of this to those who do.

  15. Sword40 says:

    We have a friend that has helped us for the last seven or eight year in getting the FSSP into our diocese. Last October we were successful. Now she has decided that the FSSP priest’s sermons are too severe, so she has moved south where there is another TLM priest (not FSSP). That priest is a very wonderful man but his sermons are softer. ( he doesn’t like to talk about God’s justice, only His love).
    People come and people go. All we can do is pray and persevere.

    Out of our original TLM group there are only probably 6 or 7 that are still with us, BUT there are dozens of new folks with lots of children and many who are still searching. we try to help them along the way.

  16. HealingRose says:

    Try befriending your priest. Invite him over for dinner with your family. Find out more about him and what makes him tick. Maybe even prepare some questions ahead of time. Sometimes knowing more about someone’s past experiences can help us understand who they are now. Ask the priest why he takes the approach he does. His answer may surprise you. I personally like to get everything out in the open and address concerns head-on. If so many seem to be taking issue with this, how else can everyone get on the same page if there isn’t healthy communication?

    Running away is not going to solve anything, try blooming where you are planted. I wonder if any of the disgruntled parishioners have tried turning the negativity into positivity? It’s easy to be around people who are always rainbows and sunshine, but how do we love the people who get under our skin? We are called to love not just as we love ourselves, but to love as He loves us. Don’t abandon the church or parish because the going gets tough. Be open to allowing God to use you within the parish you already attend.

    If you are having struggles personally and are looking for more encouragement, consider joining a prayer group or activity group at your parish. If there isn’t one, then start one. Something I personally do to help my focus stay on God and to give me peace is close my eyes, open my other senses, and take cleansing breaths when I am at Mass or while praying the Rosary in front of the Tabernacle. When in doubt about something, I make it a point to physically get on my knees during prayer.

    I have many issues with my home parish and often attend other churches during the week in addition to attending my parish on Sunday. I also have some big struggles in my daily life. I find my tolerance and temper seem to get worse the longer I wait between confessions. I find I need to go weekly to keep things running well in my life. I need to constantly work on making myself humble, to become the lowest of the low. The more I humble myself to Him, everything becomes much more peaceful, positive, and productive.

  17. un-ionized says:

    healingrose, hard to do when the priest won’t talk to you because someone has spread rumors about you and he refuses to return phone calls. and he won’t talk to anybody over 40.

  18. un-ionized says:

    basically, pannw, you can’t read people’s minds and are talking about something that you have no experience with.

  19. un-ionized says:

    healingrose, the negativity in my parish is all from the friars, who are living double lives and turning the place into a playground for youth and themselves. refusing to visit old people, refusing to return phone calls except of people that they want to be friends with, spreading rumors and gossiping about the parishioners, walking away from little old ladies in the narthex because they suddenly become bored, these are all hallmarks of a toxic Order.

  20. Mary Jane says:

    Un-ionized, I’m sorry to hear you have to deal with things like this. Jesus is still there though…the sacraments are still there. Stay close to Jesus and Mary. Pray. I’ll pray for your situation as well.

  21. un-ionized says:

    Thank you to all of you for your sincerity. I am going on a retreat next week, alone, at a big midwestern abbey where I have been many times before (I got a room on the side with a view of trees), will go to confession with a really great spiritual director (been a priest about 60 years, tons of experience). When I get back I will pick two parishes to go between, ones where I am not known and start over. This time I will forget about having a “community.” Just go to Mass and hope for the best. One of the parishes is known for ethnic food so I see a possible weight gain in my future.

  22. WVC says:

    Dear un-ionized. I feel a great sympathy with your position, but your comment about forgetting about having a “community” might not be the best course of action. Even the ancient fathers who fled to the desert to be a hermit often found themselves with a community, whether they desired it or not. There is something of the Faith that demands community since Grace builds upon nature and we are, by nature, communal beings. The idea of the people of the Church being the Body of Christ has much in it fit for mystical meditation and consideration. You can’t appreciate a Communion with the Saints unless you can figure out how to forge a communion with your fellow sinners.

    I think we, as Catholics, need to aggressively reassert the need for community. While the relaxing of parish boundaries has been a boon in the preservation of the Faith and Liturgy in a time of great upheaval (finding a port in the raging storm), if we do not start attempting to plant down roots again and build up a community, one rooted to an actual location, we risk not only making ourselves perpetually easy targets for “toxic” religious orders and bad priests, we risk losing some vital elements of the spiritual life.

    Ideally, kids should have other kids they can befriend and play with on a regular basis, not thirty minutes after Mass on Sundays. Folks, from the elderly down to the sick, need the help and support of a community, and the community needs to be able to perform these spiritual and corporal works of mercy. Singing together, celebrating together, grieving together, and suffering together is almost if not quite as important as worshiping together. You may have to search to find a good community, but once you find it, root!

    Sometimes you lose the fight and the community is destroyed. But like the monks of the Dark Ages after a Viking raid destroyed their monastery, when you go to a new place you immediately begin investing in building another community. Never let the bad guys win, even if they have the upper hand in the short run.

    Just like folks say to not let one bad priest (or, in some cases, bishop or even pope) keep you out of the One, True Church, I add don’t let anyone take over, ruin, or destroy your community, not without a fight, or ever let them put you off from the commitment to community.

    Facebook (and all other internet “communities”) are a hollow substitute. Real Parish life is necessary and worth fighting for. We have to stop letting the bad guys walk all over us.

  23. un-ionized says:

    It was the wonderful “community” that did me in with their favoritism, gossip and slander. That is “real parish life.”

  24. WVC says:

    Without knowing, or wanting to know, any of the specifics, I would never try to comment on your particular circumstance. Perhaps your community was never what it ought to have even from the very beginning.

    However, the fact that one community or, in fact, every community has flaws does not negate the validity of our need for community (any more than a bad pope or a hundred bad bishops or a thousand bad priests negates the need to be a member of the One, True Church).

    We live in a unique time in human history. Not only are modern modes of travel unbelievably easy, cheap, and convenient when compared to those of only a few generation ago, but we have technology that makes communications over previously unimaginable distances instantaneous. It has become so easy for all of us to pick and choose who we want to associate with. We can ignore online friends who disagree with us, or we can pack up and go to a new parish 30 miles away with little effort if we have a falling out with those at our current parish.

    So now we have a thousand easy paths before us so that we never have to deal with reality. Reality is that we are sinners, and we associate with sinners. We are imperfect, and those around us are likewise. Finding ways to work through the problems, to realize, suffer, and then work through the real damage of things like gossip and tale-bearing, to understand the real importance of things like honor, reliability, and trustworthiness when it comes to our name and our character, the impact that one’s actions will have not only one one’s own standings but on those associated with him (i.e. friends and family) – these are all opportunities to grow in virtue, especially humility, to learn about ourselves and cultivate patience with others. Often the damage done by gossip or slander can take generations, literally, to undo (which is why God warns us that the sins of the parents can cause the children to suffer for three to four generations – it’s not an exaggeration). Realizing that helps one understand the actual gravity of the sin and the importance of confessing it as an earnest penitent.

    There has been an effort to reassert the importance of the family for society and for the Faith. Yes, I agree with that sentiment absolutely. But the family no more exists in a vacuum than does an individual person.

    Building and mending and defending bridges is a lot harder than burning them. It is, however, worth the effort.

  25. louiseyvette says:

    un-ionized: “And a large part of the process is for the head goats in charge to pretend that they are shepherds and to call the real sheep goats while currying favor with the other goats who are jockeying for position in the inner circles of parishes and chanceries so they can be enablers of the head goats’ immorality.”

    Interesting. The priest could be a psychopath, in which case, stay away. But he might just be depressed/grumpy/whatever.

    I don’t mind being challenged at all, but if I’m left at the end of a homily feeling like there is no hope for me, that’s a problem, and not just for me. I don’t experience “community” in my parish, but I experience it in the Catholic home school group we belong to.

    We do need to pray for our priests, though.

    I was reflecting on a lovely priest I met last year at a conference. Later during the conference, he heard my confession. He seemed such a joyful, friendly soul and he was wonderful in the confessional. Fr. Z and all good priests, we are grateful to you that you hear our confessions!

  26. HealingRose says:

    I’m not sure about the exact verses, but they generally say something like if your eyes cause you to sin then it is better to pluck them out, if your hand causes you to sin to cut it off…better to enter crippled into heaven than to remain intact and go to hell. We all need to be held accountable for our actions. If this priest’s actions are causing people to turn away from God and promoting sin, then that priest needs to be held accountable by higher powers. If the rot has spread too far from within, there might not be much that you could do to help. Mass is about worshiping God. If you are not able to do that, then it is better to perhaps “cut your hand off” as in cut your losses and go somewhere that you can truly focus on God.

  27. Thorfinn says:

    The primary thing for your correspondent is to continue going to Mass with her husband.

    Parish-hopping isn’t ideal but it’s not evil and if at least one party has reached the breaking point it’s probably (past?) time to try another parish. Just keep in mind that the grass isn’t always greener and so forth. And even if you change parishes do continue to pray for the pastor in question, which benefits both you and him.