QUAERITUR: What should we do when priests do stupid things?

Priests are people too.  But sometimes I think, “Listen, pal.  If you are too stupid to follow the rites for sacraments as they are written, maybe you should be working as a dishwasher.”

From a reader:

If you post this on your blog, might I suggest “Don’t worry, Father.
There’s a Biological Solution to that,” or perhaps “There’s a good thing there’s a screen between us, buddy.”

I wanted to tell you about debacle in the confessional this past Saturday, and share with you the silver lining I found.

Confession was going fine until the words of Absolution. Father’s articulate speech suddenly turned into rapid mumbling:

“Mumblemumblemumble Jesus is pretty cool mumblemumble And so I forgive you of all your sins…”

“Father, I’m not sure, but I think you said ‘forgive’ instead of ‘absolve…”

“Yes, that’s my translation of the Latin.”

“Bu- Father, would you mind doing it again, for the sake of my scrupulosity, and using the word absolve? Please?” [The was a legitimate request from the penitent.]

“Do you want it in Latin?”

(Overcome with joy at this unexpected prospect) “Actually, yes! That would be fanta-”

(Sharply) “That’s not my style. mumblemumble Jesus is totally awesome mumble and I ABSOLVE you of your sins…”

I managed to bite my tongue (Which is a miracle in itself. Perhaps #2 for Bl. JPII? But I jest), and went outside to perform my penance, and found this prayer at the end of the instructions for making confession in my missal, entitled PRAYER FOR THE CONFESSOR:

Almighty and merciful God, in your great love you have chosen this priest to serve the heavenly mysteries. Make him a worthy minister of the altar, make holy and ratify the words he utters. Through Christ our Lord. Amen

This fantastic little prayer completely changed my mood. I went from being angry and annoyed with this priest, and expecting to feel that way all throughout Mass, to praying for him, and feeling ten thousand times better.

By all means, pray for the priest in that way.

However, if he really is screwing around with the form of the Sacrament of Penance, the words of absolution, and he persists even after having been requested to use the proper form, then the situation should be clarified for the bishop, so that he can find out what is going on.

Okay… now I can remove my “Temple Police” cap.

Seriously, do pray for priests.  They are human beings and subject to the same problems all us fallen souls suffer under, including the darkening of mind and weakening of will due to original sin, constant war with the world, the flesh and the devil, the pressure of cultural trends… all of it.  And the Enemy really hates priests.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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