Advice to new priests in first assignments who suffer under liberal pastors. Wherein Fr. Z rants.

In June and into July, many newly ordained priests have reported to their first assignment as associate or assistant (as my old pastor used to say, “The first three letters are the same”).   These days we hear often the fancy term “parochial vicar”.

After the excitement of ordination, the grace-filled bliss of Masses of Thanksgiving, hearing confessions for the first time, visiting classmates for their ordinations, things settle down to the quotidian life of being a priest.

For some the transition is easy. For many there are difficulties.

I’ve been getting a number of emails and messages this week from men who were ordained this year, complaining, and/or asking questions about how to handle their pastor.

  • One pastor refuses to let the newly ordained priest make use of the “fiddleback” vestments his family gave him as an ordination gift.
  • Another new priest must do a “commissioning” ceremony for EMHCs that seems odd to him (and to me).
  • Another one must figure out what to do with the Children’s Liturgy of the Word.
  • Yet another pastor is telling the new priest that he’s no longer “allowed” to hang out with seminarians, and that he should only befriend priests and certain select laypeople that the pastor has picked out!

I’ve also been in contact with a couple older priests who are concerned that, in this time when liberals (read “fascists”) have the Big Mo, the younger guys who grew up in the time of John Paul II and who tried their vocations during the pontificate of Benedict XVI, are worried about the younger men, who’ve had a relatively easy time of it.   As a matter of fact, with one of my priest friends I have spoken about this often.

In the bad old days, when seminaries were rife with heretical teaching, banal preaching, and bizarre liturgical experimentation, newly ordained priests developed a pretty thick hide for craziness. For many, their first assignment seemed like a breath of fresh air, since they were no longer under the close scrutiny of a staff rabidly seeking out any semblance of orthodoxy or tradition. Even if the pastor was liberal and the parish music program was stuck in a jingle jangle morning of adulterated folk music, the freedom of being out of the seminary made the zaniness tolerable by comparison.

In the past two decades, however, in most places monumental work has been done to clean up seminaries.  Let’s be honest, seminaries aren’t perfect and some are better than others.  But the vast majority of seminaries are head-and-shoulders above where they were 20 years ago! Heretical professors retired, solid young priests were assigned to the formation faculty, sacred music and liturgy programs were brought closer in line with… well… the Catholic Church. All well and good.

But now, there are a couple new problems.

First, newly ordained priests have not had to spend the past six to eight years struggling in a miasma of fascistic liberal dissent and liturgical silliness.  Also, most parishes have not improved their liturgical and doctrinal landscape at the same pace that seminaries were cleaned up.

Many of the liberal priests who made seminaries so unbearable ten or twenty years ago, once removed from their positions of tyranny over seminarians, became pastors of the larger parishes which have enough numbers to merit the assignment of new priests as parochial vicars.  Some of these heterodox depots sit on personnel boards which advise the bishop on priestly assignments (and, let’s face it, many of these boards actually do the assignments, with the bishop merely giving a rubber stamp). As an example of the worst sort of clericalism, many of the priests who failed in their role on seminary faculties – priests who are latent or open homosexuals, priests who tolerated or practiced liturgical disobedience, priests who discouraged faithful orthodox seminarians from pursuing vocations while promoting guys who would eventually bring shame and embarrassment to the Church – instead of being retired to quiet lives of prayer and penance for their misdeeds, ineptitude, and villainy are given plum parishes.

Enter the newly ordained.

Our newly ordained priests are often unprepared to deal with the liturgical abuse, bizarre behavior (in some cases moral depravity), heterodox preaching, and strong pressure from their pastors to shun the traditional things they came to appreciate during their years in the seminary. Stories abound of pastors forbidding seminarians from wearing certain vestments because they’re “too traditional,” or requiring the young associate to preside over made up rituals that are in fact rites cobbled-up years before by Sr. Randi and GRE that became parish “traditions.” Even a young priest’s social interactions are scrutinized in an incredibly invasive way.

Hardened veterans of a 1980’s seminary might be prepared for this abuse. Thanks be to God seminaries aren’t the hell holes they once were, but today’s new priests haven’t the scaly armor and battle scars.

What is Pater Infans to do?

Fathers,…

Pray, of course. Don’t let the habits of prayer you developed in the seminary slack off now that the bell doesn’t ring at 6:00 AM (I was literally the bell-ringer one year in my seminary in Rome) and now that no faculty member checks to see that you are in for evening prayer. Keep close to Our Lord and Our Lady.  Actually, ramp up your prayer: you now are a priest of Jesus Christ. Obligations come with that. Find a good confessor and GO TO CONFESSION (perhaps at least every two weeks).

Maintain regular contact with your classmates and other young priests (and some older ones, too – they’re not all bad). If there are a good number of guys you in your area, arrange occasional get-togethers to pray, eat good food, drink a little, smoke cigars, complain about your pastors (but not too much – don’t be a whiner, be a man!), and talk about your plans for when you become pastor of a parish (or wind up in the chancery for your sins).

Keep a decent journal/calendar, especially if the pastor makes unreasonable requests of you, or you think something darker might be afoot. A written record can be invaluable if (God forefend) it’s ever needed. Scripta manent.  It will also serve as a good reminder in future years of what not to do when you are pastor with a young assistant.

Pick your battles wisely. Unless the pastor asks you to attempt the consecration of pumpkin bread, or use the 47th Eucharistic Prayer that he and Sr. Kitty wrote while on retreat together in Cancun, the wisest course of action is usually to comply. He doesn’t like your new “fiddleback” chasuble (as he wrongly calls it)? Keep it on reserve for your future pastorate.  He wants you to spend time with his country club friends instead of the homeschooling family of 12 that keeps asking for an Extraordinary Form Mass? Put in a little hard time at club, nod and smile when batty old Mrs. Onagaz starts harping on women’s ordination, and then sneak out to spend time with your delightfully orthodox friends.

In parish liturgical life, don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good… or, more honestly, the mediocre be the enemy of the horrid. The music will probably be awful. You might have altar girls. There may be a “children’s liturgy of the word”, when the kids are kicked out of church for ten minutes for no other reason than they need to cut a dinosaur out of construction paper and sing, “This Little Light of Mine.” If you fight the pastor on liturgical matters, you will doubtlessly condemn yourself to years of unpleasantness, close supervision, and suggestions from the personnel board for psychological counseling or in-patient treatment.

Although as an assistant you just barely have the right to Christian burial, and while suffering can be redemptive, the Lord didn’t call you to the priesthood in order to make your life a living purgatory.

Your term as parochial vicar will, in most dioceses, be short; a few years at most. Keep your head down. Do your job.  Ask your liberal pastor for advice and pretend to take it seriously.  Thank him for his “wisdom”.  Do these things, sonny, and your pastor’s buddy on the personnel board will recommend you for a pastorate in relatively short order.

Due to the “Biological Solution” (to which we are all subject) liberals will lose their grip on chanceries, personnel boards, and larger parishes in due time. There simply are not enough liberals in the under-50 gaggle to replace them. You, by enduring a couple years of difficulty with patience, grace, humility, and humor, will become part of the solution.

Everyone, pray for priests, especially for priests in difficult assignments.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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37 Responses to Advice to new priests in first assignments who suffer under liberal pastors. Wherein Fr. Z rants.

  1. Charles E Flynn says:

    “Although as an assistant you just barely have the right to Christian burial, and while suffering can be redemptive, the Lord didn’t call you to the priesthood in order to make your life a living purgatory.”

    We are going to need a bigger mug.

    [Well done.]

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  2. Robert of Rome says:

    Well said, Fr. Z. This is one of your most important posts in a while. The topic is new but needs further development. Young priests and seminarians, as well as men considering a priestly vocation, need concrete practices to keep them orthodox and sane.

  3. HeatherPA says:

    “Due to the “Biological Solution” (to which we are all subject) liberals will lose their grip on chanceries, personnel boards, and larger parishes in due time. There simply are not enough liberals in the under-50 gaggle to replace them.”

    This is what keeps us from falling into utter despair at times. Though the Boomers will not drop their claw-like grip off the steering wheel of society until they are forced, kicking and screaming, or by inevitable death, it still is something they will not be able to control or stop from happening.

  4. greenlight says:

    Good grief, that’s depressing! How do you guys do it?

  5. FrAnt says:

    Guys listen to Fr. Z., he knows what he’s talking about.
    Two things new priest need to be aware of, 1) when you are stressed about all of the things of being a new priest and or your pastoral assignment, talk to friends and your spiritual director about your experiences. Drink and other temptations will be happy to help make the pain go away. 2) Frienships with parishioners should not be exclusive. Make friends with a number of families and keep in touch with old friends. People turn to priests for help, sometimes more than spiritual help. Priests are nice guys, who listen, show concern, and even give advice, something her husband doesn’t do. As Fr. Z. encourages, keep a sense of you surroundings, and you’ll do well.
    Bonus Tip: Have fun being a priest. No one likes, or listens to a grumpy priest.

  6. Tamquam says:

    Bella V. Dodd in her book, “School of Darkness,” mentions that in the 1930’s and ’40’s the Communist Party in the United States infiltrated over 1,100 men into seminaries, not all of them Catholic. The purpose was to place Communists in positions of influence, and eventually authority, within the Church. Dodd re-converted to Catholicism in the the 1960’s, Deo gratias. Obviously the purpose of this infiltration was to weaken or destroy the the Church by inserting Communist ideology into the Body of Christ. Dollars will get you doughnuts that that process of infiltration didn’t stop in the 50’s, ’60’s, 70’s or beyond.

    In my opinion the Communists were successful to an extent. Clearly there men have entered the priesthood and risen to the episcopacy who were unfit. But they persevered in their task of infiltration and many succeeded in traducing the Faithful who put their trust in them. No matter how destructive these men may have been, the Church will not be destroyed by them. Still, these guys persisted in their assignments and did incalculable damage at every level of the life of the Church.

    Now if a bunch of godless men can infiltrate the Church to attempt to destroy her it follows that Godly men can likewise infiltrate the Church to restore and cleanse her. These new priests are secret agents of Truth, Beauty, Goodness and Holiness, patient servants who in God’s good time will rise within the hierarchical structure to undo all that the servants of darkness have done.

    Patience, perseverance, humility. There is a time for every purpose under heaven.

  7. tskrobola says:

    This is a spot-on set of observations in my opinion. Those priests who know how to play “the game” are ultimately following the Lord’s calling to be “cunning as serpents”….and to follow His example by doing the Father’s will in the Father’s good time.

  8. Orlando says:

    Father great advice for not only young priest but young conservatives entering college. Let liberal looney , communist professors pontificate from behind the lector….in one ear, out the other. Do your time , get a good education , graduate , find an honerable job make a good living then go out an buy an SUV to take you to a TLM Mass!

  9. John Nelson says:

    “Be therefore as clever as serpents and harmless as doves.”

  10. Pingback: THURSDAY EDITION | Big Pulpit

  11. Father K says:

    There is a very precise term for pastors like that, ‘bully.’ Apart from recommending smoking cigars, Fr Z’s advice is very sound.

  12. Prayerful says:

    You can see commissioning ceremonies for EMHCs and a sort of robe for them. It is a false sort of inclusivity. A Tradition minded man with a vocation could always apply to the ICSKP (I think they even use the 1951 Missal) and other priestly societies, but that would mean the ordinary run of Catholics who go to their parish church losing the benefit of a prayerful and holy young priest. I suppose it’s also the challenge of a new job. A lot of things can seem to be done wrong, but a man has to wait a little while. The whole post sounds like wise advice for the young priest. They all need our prayers. They have far more work to do (including dealing with local egos on Parish Pastoral Councils once they get responsibility) given how vocations have collapsed.

  13. Mike says:

    Very funny, Charles!

    You describe, Fr Z, in virtually every detail, my parish. The pastor, ordained in early 70s, is retiring soon. The young vicar is a model of patience. Perhaps he read this blog!

  14. Pingback: Advice to new priests in first assignments who suffer under liberal pastors. Wherein Fr. Z rants. - News for Catholics

  15. And the young priests should know that those of us in the pews who have had to endure the silliness can see the suffering they endure, and are more than willing to pray for them.

    And if we see, in the midst of the burlap banners, Sister Pantsuit leading the bongo choir and liturgical dance routine at the Offeratory, and the battalion of “Eucharistic Ministers” at the local “Catholic Community of St. Ippsydippsy” that young Father is gamely soldiering on…a quiet word in the narthex on the way out of ‘thank you for that wonderful homily’ (if true) and ‘I’m remembering you in my prayers’ is one way of strengthening what must be, as you say, purgatorial for a good young man on his first assignment in a hostile land.

  16. Scott W. says:

    Ignore much, improve what you can, see everything. And bide your time. As Mark Stein put it, when it’s a fight between 600 octogenarians and 200 teenagers, bet on the teenagers.

  17. Cafea Fruor says:

    “Maintain regular contact with your classmates and other young priests (and some older ones, too – they’re not all bad).”

    Contact with older priests shouldn’t be just a side note here. I’d specifically seek out at least one older priest, aside from a spiritual director, who’s got his head on straight, for the purpose of having a mentor. It could be extremely helpful to talk with someone who’s been there, to learn how he got through similar tough assignments, and that sort of thing. A young priest assigned as vicar under Fr. Tambourine might even find that his older mentor has plenty of personal experience with Fr. Tambourine and knows a thing or two about how to work with him enough that the situation becomes at least tolerable.

    In any vocation, it’s good to learn from those who’ve fought the good fight well for longer than you have. For example, when I was a novice in the convent (before I did end up leaving), I was assigned for some months to assist with the elderly Sisters in the infirmary, and I gained so much by listening to their experiences and stories about how they dealt with the chaos after Vatican II and how the community made it through mostly unscathed, about how some of them had been young junior Sisters survived Sr. M. Terror as their first superior after the novitiate, and so forth. And that’s not wisdom I could have learned from my fellow novices, the juniors, or even some of the younger final-professed. There are things you can only learn from the older ones. Now that I’ve been out of the convent for some years and am a laywoman working in the world, I still make it a point to seek out a few older colleagues (either in age or in seniority with the organization) that I trust enough that I can turn to them when I’m dealing with serious challenges. In one case at least, it was their wisdom, experience, and sympathy that kept me from throwing in the towel and walking out the door on a terrible boss. And now I’ve survived, got the organization to create a new position for me, and have the best boss ever — and that might have gone very differently had I not had a good rapport with some wise “old-timers”.

  18. PhilipNeri says:

    As a seminary formator, professor, and long-suffering orthodox Dominican friar, I want to say to all the newly ordained (religious and diocesan): be obedient, be patient, and carefully choose the hill you want to die on. I have only been a parochial vicar once for about a year and a half. For religious, the pastor/P.V. dynamic is different than the diocesan version. Basically, we’re brothers living in community and the roles within the parish and community change rather quickly. An abused religious P.V. can be the abusive Pastor’s prior next year!

    May I suggest that you do not want to sacrifice your priestly ministry fighting over ugly vestments, minor rubrical violations, church decor — IOW, anything not absolutely essential to the mission of the Church. Yes, more traditional styles are preferable but not essential in the short term. The future belongs to you. Think long term.

    May I also suggest that an eagerness to be disobedient to your pastor (even in small matters) can be habit-forming (vicious). If you won’t obey, don’t expect to be obeyed.

    And please. . .think first of the people you were ordained to serve. Your personal tastes and preferences are all well and good. . .but showing up to say Mass at a modernist suburban parish wearing medieval French vestments and expecting the people to chant polyphonically in Latin is a form of liturgical abuse.

    Just.Be.Patient. Your time will come. Think of how many souls you will spring from purgatory with your suffering!

    Fr. Philip Neri, OP

  19. NancyP says:

    Father Z, please consider writing a similar blog post to help parishioners support their orthodox young priests. I have seen far too many associate pastors in my diocese (three within the last 10 years, if memory serves) drummed out of their positions because parishioners who were angry about homilies on topics such as Confession, sin and Hell wrote angry letters to the diocese, where the happy-clappy priests on the assignment board seem to be bent on getting rid of orthodox priests by transferring them away from parishes, sending them to religious orders and so on.

    One of our nearby parishes has once again been blessed with an amazing young priest (after the previous conservative young associate pastor was transferred away from parish ministry, sigh). This new associate pastor has already been transferred from one parish because of his (excellent, IMHO) preaching (see topic list above). What can we do to support him? (Selfishly, I’d love to keep him where he is – but I also would like to help him survive in our diocese until the biological solution improves things for him and our other young priests.)

  20. jameeka says:

    This is a helpful post, because of the wisdom and prudence of the 30,000 foot view. When one is on the ground reacting to a bunch of things every day, despite prayer and saying Mass often, it can be no doubt difficult to see the end goal— which is saving the souls of your current flock as well as your own. So, while often these new priests have the energy of youth on their side, small, even trivial things seem loaded with meaning and one can get jaded a bit too quickly.

    It can be a neat trick to recover that love of the Gospel sometimes.( I am always amazed how the priests who were converts from another faith or tepid Catholicism can fire up the ranks. )

    So, pay attention to what Father Z says!

  21. Peter Stuart says:

    As an SSA Catholic who came back onto the “barque of Peter” just in time for the resurgent liberals to throw me and who knows how many others like me overboard, I feel revived every time I see a young priest (or any priest) simply living the authentic Faith.

    Do not ever doubt, Fathers, that your prayers and witness and example matter. Sometimes they are the only thing that make it seem worthwhile to pick myself up that one more time after I’ve found some excuse to say “what the hell” and give in to temptation. May God reward your perseverance.

  22. jz says:

    I’m just a lay person, but I want to give a sincere THANK YOU to all you young priests out there seeking to serve us with your fully Catholic and authentic vocation. Stay strong and feel free to give us homeschool families a disproportionate amount of your scarce time!

    I will also say, as sad as this post is, it gives me great hope. I long for the renewal described here for seminaries to hit our parishes. And honestly, if it’s going to take another decade, well that’s shorter than I expected.

  23. Matt Robare says:

    It occurs to me that putting the young, traditionalist priest in charge of the Children’s Liturgy of the Word is an enormous own-goal from the Enemy. Father could make use of the “Treasure and Tradition” book, or perhaps the coloring books by Matthew Alderman or Daniel Mitsui to build a firm foundation in the young. Moreover, I note that resources like the Baltimore Catechism can easily be found online.

  24. brotherfee says:

    With the priest shortages, these new fathers will soon be assigned as pastors of their own church. Then they can make their own mark. So, patience and listening is still in order. Perhaps that old term of “submarining” may still be useful: smile and listen, but do not confront until ready. God bless our priests.

  25. Weetabix says:

    I love you, Fr. Z. You’re a good and a great man with Olympian perspective. Thanks for writing this.

  26. Pcito says:

    Newly ordained, the first challenge I faced was Life Teen and kids invited to stand around the altar during the consecration. I went to battle with canon law, liturgical law, theology… and nothing changed, except to earn me a “reputation”. (Eventually, I did convince the Archbishop to ban the practice.)

    On my next assignment as vicar, I learned to use the words “I prefer…” “I prefer not to invite the teens around the altar during the consecration… I prefer not to use a dumbed-down Gospel for the kid’s Mass and will read the proper one… I prefer not to invite Santa Claus into the sanctuary during Mass… I prefer we not sing ‘Come Together Now’ another time (Luv one another…).”

    Pastor (not a bad guy, just acquired a lot of bad status-quo habits) wasn’t pleased, but not much he could do about it. I didn’t have to convince anyone else they were wrong (they will automatically go into defense mode), only to respect my preferences (they are less willing to be disrespectful). That and patience will get you a long way.

    Choose your battles, but stand your ground.

  27. I must say, I was startled by some of the examples our genial host cited. Thankfully, in my own experience, such episodes are unusual.

    I would add that I believe many times, the vicar need not find himself in conflict with his pastor. Rare are the cases where what the pastor is asking is a matter of conscience. It is rare, for example, for a pastor to demand a priest to offer Mass in a particular way. Yes, you may not be happy that there are so many extraordinary ministers of holy communion, but that’s on the pastor, not you. Even if you were pastor, newly arrived, good judgment would dictate taking time to fix many of the problems you may find vexing. So you need not have a bad conscience about things that ought to be fixed, but aren’t being fixed by the one who has the authority to do so (i.e., not you).

    And if the pastor asks you to represent his judgment on a matter in a public way, all you need do, with a clear conscience, is to present precisely what the pastor advocates, as the pastor’s decision. No bad conscience.

    If a pastor forbids you to wear a cassock, as wrong as he is to do it, I would obey.

    One of the things a new associate has to be careful about is becoming a focal point for those who have grievances with the pastor. They may be right, they may be wrong, but that’s not your job. You may not intend to play that role, but you may find yourself in it, before you know it.

  28. Fr. Bryan says:

    One of the things that I learned is the importance of regularly getting together with priests, especially the guys who were close to me in the seminary (I have only one classmate). We get together monthly for social time, holy hour with exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, Vespers, Rosary, and dinner, and we talk about the issues of the day, and the things that we face in our parishes, and with our people. Most of us are pastors now, but that doesn’t change the need to get together regularly with brother priests. I always find the one Wednesday evening per month to be very refreshing, and it helps to re-focus, and re-invigorate a sense of 1. not being alone, there are brother priests in these trenches with you, 2. God really is in control, 3. He has a purpose and you are fulfilling it, and 4. we are not in this for ourselves, but for Him who died and rose again.

  29. Absit invidia says:

    In this post photo, look how disinterested the boys are in the priest and he type of mass he’s offering. Do we want a continued crisis is priestly vocations? Because offering mass like this is how you do it.

  30. Fr. Timothy Ferguson says:

    To paraphrase that great jurist, philosopher, poet, and golfer, Judge Elihu Smails:

    It’s easy to grin
    when your ship comes in
    and your diploma says, “Theology: Master!”
    But the priest who’s worthwhile
    is the priest who can smile
    when he’s just an associate pastor.

  31. THREEHEARTS says:

    First I must reiterate which I have often maintained that the priesthood went to hell when the vow of the priesthood was changed to absolute obedience to the local ordinary. A very good priest in tears told me this, This priest was one for whom I would have died for.One should read the reports that Fr. Andrew Greeley wrote for the church. Read his Wikpedia profile at https://en.wikepedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Greeley.

  32. St-Polycarp says:

    Just shared this with a friend of my who is currently in seminary. He LOVED IT!!! Thank you, Fr. Z, for your good advice for our young fathers.

  33. RafqasRoad says:

    Dear Peter Stuart,

    My soul smiles and praises our Lord Jesus Christ and His Blessed Mother whenever you pop up in the comments section. I admire your fortitude, obedience and example in the face of a world and (sadly) many elements within Holy Mother Church who rail against the narrow path you are slogging along, Christ’s heavy cross upon your shoulder.

    Please know there are those of us who in prayer and fraternity come alongside you as Simon of Cyrene and Veronica, honoured to help shoulder the burden and offer (even if clumsily on our part) what refreshment we can. When you fall off the wagon, Holy Mother Church is here, Our Lord and Lady are here, and I’d like to think that Fr. Z. along with his community are here ready to help you up and back on your feet as we walk together along the pilgrim’s path through this vale of tears striving to conform our lives to His through sacrament and sacramental, the cross of Christ before us and as St. Paul puts it, the amazing prize that lays ahead ever to spur us on with hope.

  34. hwriggles4 says:

    Like many here, I have known some priests in difficult assignments. I also rejoiced when our newer bishop retired two priests who were in their 70s who had reputations for liturgical abuses, and for some new age practices.

    Anyway, with the average age of ordination today being around 36, quite a few younger priests today have held a secular job prior to answering the call and entering seminary. I am wondering if these newer priests are having a difficult time in some parish assignments, since I would think they would be a little more willing to argue with Fr. Yeah Whatever who was ordained circa 1978. I could see some “late vocation” priests (i.e., those ordained between 40 and 64 – I know some good ones) who spent years as a layperson willing to do this, because in their previous lives I’m sure they have had to handle conflicts.

    On a personal note, I was in a fraternity at one college I attended, and fraternity hazing at 19 years of age did help me develop a thicker skin, and my friends who have served in the Armed Forces said that basic training (if they were enlisted) was helpful in doing this. Ten percent of priests who have been ordained in recent years have some experience in the Armed Forces.

    If the new orthodox priest is strong, he will persevere a Fr. Yeah Whatever. Several orthodox seminarians have persevered a pastoral year with Fr. Yeah Whatever at the “Gather Us In Happy Clappy parish” , and it’s sad that there are some dioceses that will purposely assign an orthodox seminarian to the parish of “We go here because the Sunday Mass is 45 Minutes” , with the intent of running off a solid candidate. Oftentimes, the orthodox seminarian thrives.

  35. vandalia says:

    A few practical points:

    1) Email is a wonderful thing. It provides a time-stamped, authenticated communication that is very difficult to contradict. It saved my prior career when I was able to directly contradict my supervisor’s allegations. The same thing helps in the Church; a call from the Vicar for Clergy? “Father X, the Pastor called to complain that you did not attend Y.” “Oh? Let me forward you the email where he told me not to attend because he had it covered.” Unless you are doing something criminal, use email as much as possible, and use it to verify oral conversations. “Father X, I want to go over the key points from our conversation to make sure I did not misunderstand anything.”

    2) My Canon Law professor was asked how he reacted when he attended a “creative” Mass. He simply responded “I know what is required for validity.”

    3) To continue the thought from #2, we live in a hierarchical Church. A Bishop is responsible for his Diocese. A Pastor is responsible for his parish. A parochial vicar is responsible for neither. As long as it does not effect validity, is not criminal according to Canon or civil law, or clearly heretical, the Pastor is responsible for his parish. Not the vicar. And it is the Pastor’s soul that will be so judged. God in his wisdom created this form of governance for his Church. He did not create a democracy. While a vicar has his right to make his thoughts known in private, when the Pastor makes a decision, as long as it is not directly contrary to law, it is his decision to make. On his soul it will be. A vicar, on the other hand, will have this time in his life judged based on his obedience. (Although it is the obedience to be expected from a Second Lieutenant, not a Private. They are different.)

  36. Peter Stuart says:

    May God grant many blessings to RafqasRoad and all who keep struggling sinners like me in their prayers. It is humbling to be reminded how vital it is to be pledged to, and supported by, the mutual support of the Church Militant.

  37. Curtis101 says:

    Father Z, I am very intrigued by your recent blog in regards to advice for newly ordained priest. I find it refreshing to hear these ideas being spoken aloud rather than discussed in private settings. However, I do have several questions regarding your advice. I am having trouble in understanding what your stance is in regards to older, liberal, church priest and their views on church teachings. If one of these priest was to not directly support gay marriage, yet was also to not directly condemn it, but was to rather choose a stance where he could sit on the fence, so as to try to remain in the good graces of those on both sides of the fence, then this would not be an instance where young priest should follow suit and write it down in their notebook as something they won’t do when in charge of a parish of their own. Would it not be the duty of the young priest to stand up and state the fine line between right and wrong? There is no being “on the fence” when it comes to good and evil, there is either good or there is evil. For example, if the topic of homosexuality was brought up in a sermon and the parish priest’s response was “we all must love one and other”, even though this is not directly contradicting church teaching, it is avoiding a direct answer and therefore taking the position of being on the fence. Now let us say a member of the congregation was to hear the response of the parish priest, and because his response was not straight forward, “we all must love one and other”, this member assumes this insinuates that living a homosexual lifestyle is ok in the eyes of the church. Now, let us fast forward to the death of the individual who was present at the sermon of the parish priest; as well as the death of the newly ordained priest who was also present at the time the parish priest gave his sermon. When the individual is being asked by God why he led a homosexual lifestyle he will respond that he thought it was ok, saying, “All our parish priest said was that “we all must love one and other”, he never said it was against church teaching!”. God then looks at the newly ordained priest and asked if the events happened as the homosexual said, to which the newly ordained priest confirms is true. God then asked the priest if he knew that living a homosexual lifestyle was wrong and if he was aware of the potential problems that could arise from the parish priest’s vague statement. The newly ordained priest admits he was aware of both of these facts. God would proceed to ask, “Then why, as a Shepard of men did you sit by as my sheep were led astray?”. The priest says that he was only following orders and doing as he was told by his superiors. However, despite this fact he is still responsible for the miscommunication between the church and the homosexual through his act of silence. Therefore, I ask, is it possible (in this example) to keep one’s head down while still doing one’s job as a priest of shepherding men to God?

    I would also like to inquire as to the impression this new priest will have on, parish regulars, visitors, and new member to the church, if he is only seen lingering in the shadow of the old, liberal, parish priest. Parish guest will observe this parish priest and his vagueness on certain issues and assume the new priest is in agreement as well, considering you are also standing by the altar in the vestments of a priest, yet saying nothing to clarify the churches teachings. Therefore, the first impression this new priest will have on the parishioners is not of his true self, and you can only make one first impression.