From a priest…
Someone forwarded me your article responding to Fr. Gerald J. Bednar’s article. First of all: thank you! :)
But second: how do you keep your energy up for the fight?
Many who believe the 1 true Faith, you have no need to preach to… and those who do not… well, I have more luck convincing my cup of ice tea because of willful blindness. I bounce between boundless energy to take this to the end, and deflated frustration. God bless you!
Let me try my hand at few points, not in logical order.
- I am now getting pretty grey. As I contemplate my age and the time left to me, and how much I might have done but didn’t, and how much I have done but could have done better, and how much good I’ve accomplished by God’s good grace and what it might mean for others and myself, I ponder more and more my death and judgment and what Paul wrote in his Second Letter to Timothy … this is a reading that comes up often in the Extraordinary Form:
I charge thee, before God and Jesus Christ, who shall judge the living and the dead, by his coming, and his kingdom: Preach the word: be instant in season, out of season: reprove, entreat, rebuke in all patience and doctrine. For there shall be a time, when they will not endure sound doctrine; but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears: And will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables. But be thou vigilant, labour in all things, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill thy ministry. Be sober. For I am even now ready to be sacrificed: and the time of my dissolution is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. As to the rest, there is laid up for me a crown of justice, which the Lord the just judge will render to me in that day: and not only to me, but to them also that love his coming.
- Reflecting on the Four Last Things and the duties of your state in life can be a strong motivational moment.
- In John 6, when people were abandoning Christ because of His hard teachings, He asked His apostles if they, too, were going to leave Him. Peter answered, “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.” To stray from Christ and His Church – which is what so many are doing even within Holy Church’s formal confines now – is unthinkable. So, we stick to him.
- Time at the batting cage and at the shooting range is time well spent and quite therapeutic.
- We have set our hands to the plow. It is human to be weary. The Enemy can take advantage of that. We can flag and fall down. We have to get back up. We have – I’ll speak for myself – I have many defects and, because in this life I can see only as if through a glass, darkly, I can get confused or tempted to give up. But repetita iuvant. Repeated things help. We say our prayers and their content sinks in and becomes a part of us. Say the Office. Say the Rosary. Learn the TLM, which will teach you more about priesthood. We make affirmations and act of faith, hope, charity and contrition, over and over. So, when times are hard, we have a path to follow and an interior compass and gyroscope to get us out the the dark place. Also, once you’ve been knocked around for a bit longer than I am guessing you – with your “boundless energy” – have been, you’ll know that you can keep going.
- We have the grace of Orders, through which God will help us when we call upon His help. Just as the baptized and confirmed can do, just as spouses can call up the graces that flow from matrimony, we can invoke our Holy Orders.
- My old pastor, Msgr. Schuler, used to say, “When you’re right, you can’t be wrong.” We’re right.
- A couple years ago, at an ordination, The Extraordinary Ordinary, Bp. Morlino, told the ordinands about Job and his tribulations. In the parish they might experience some hard times. When the criticisms or the blow back comes from doing our jobs, the bishop said, we have to say with Job, “Blessed by the name of the Lord!”
- By preaching the truth, we fulfill our duty in the sight of God and men, for the sake of souls. One of those souls is our own. We preach the truth to save our own souls, whether people listen or not. God help us to find, in the charity that seeks always the good of the other, the right words and manner at the right moment! Nevertheless, we have an obligation to fulfill. Of course we also have to remember what Augustine said, when he preached to his people a hard message. He said that he was going to preach and save his soul whether they listened or not and were, thereby, not saved. But he added, “Nolo esse salvus sine vobis… I don’t want to be saved without you.”
- The priest, like Christ, is both the priest who offers the Sacrifice and, simultaneously, the Victim being sacrificed. Christ poured Himself out. So must we. He fills us up again when we get ourselves out of the way. (Yet another reason for the TLM and ad orientem worship.)
- Even as I type, I have on a shirt with the time honored phrase containing much wisdom, “Embrace The Suck!” Things will go sideways at some point. Work through it. Also, if things are going smoothly for a long time and people aren’t shooting at you, then you aren’t over the target. [No, I don’t always wear my cassock to write these posts.]
- Have purely clerical gatherings with good booze, steaks and great conversation.
- Christ has not lied to us. We know that He is our Savior and our God and that the Catholic Church is the one, indefectible Church that He Himself founded. We know that when we act in and for His Church, each priest acts as alter Christus and in persona Christi. If we are faithful He will give us every actual grace we need to fulfill our small part in His great plan. And when we fall down or fail or flag, He raises us back up with His own hand. And then there is His Mother, Queen of Priests who is always with us. And there is St. Joseph, the Terror of Demons, by us. And there is St. Michael and our own Guardian Angels ever near us. And there are the saints in heaven… And… And… And…. We are not alone.
- Father, we just persevere. Put on your big boy underwear and get back to work.
Frankly, I am grateful for this email. Right now.
I have been flagging a bit myself, lately.
A lot of really bad news comes to my mailbox. There is an endless flow of stupid surrounding us. There is growing confusion and division as camps within the Church (and wider society) separate. The Evil One is rampant in the Church like the roaring lion seeking whom he might devour. There are also many good things happening, quietly and slowly. But I, too, have been frustrated lately.
Moreover, I am pretty well convinced that I’ve been under attack in a particular way by the Enemy of the soul. I’ve chosen a new course of spiritual counter-measures as a result and I’m fighting back. To put it ironically but iconically, I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.
For example, I made a list of people for whom I will pray in a specific way to St. Joseph, along the lines of the Bux Protocol™. I going to make greater use of Holy Water, blessed salt, etc. I just picked up from the shop my newly framed prayers for before and after Mass that priests can/should recite.
I will, of course, GO TO CONFESSION! Sacramentals and devotions are one thing, but that’s a sacrament. The devil can go back to hell.
So, dear Father, persevere. When life gets rough, you are also being offered great graces.