I just received an email from a priest who informed me that today is the 200th anniversary of the day that St. John Vianney, arrived at his parish in Ars and began his work as a pastor with the care of souls.
The care of souls.
You don’t hear much about that concept today. The parish priest has a mission to fulfill that derives ultimately from the mission given by Christ to the Apostles. They exercise this mission through Holy Orders and due appointment. Aligned with the Church’s apostolic mission and faithful to it, they have a special bond with the people under their care, to care for their souls, to help them to heaven through teaching, governing and sanctifying, through adherence to and proper use of Creed, Code and Cult, each of which is ordered precisely for the end of the cura animarum: salvation of souls.
St. John Vianney, who would become the great Patron of parish priests – got lost on his way to Ars and had to ask the right direction from a couple of – ironically – shepherds.
It may be that your pastor has gotten lost. He may need encouragement and correction from lay people to guide him into his proper place and role.
You may need to care for the soul of the priest who has the care of your soul.
Lent is coming.
Perhaps you might consider undertaking a special daily prayer for your parish priests – especially if he is somewhat off the rails – and performing some daily act of reparation on his behalf. Offer some mortification for his or their sake. It could be that your parish priests are pretty squared away, but you know of a priest who is … lost. Choose a priest who isn’t good to you or others, who is perhaps faithless or a heretic or scandalous in some way. Those guys really need prayers, especially if they have by their appointments been given the care of souls and they are neglecting their charge. They are at great risk of eternal damnation.
If you need a project for Lent, that could be a good one.