At Complete Christianity (a member of the new FOEDUS – League of Catholic Bloggers) Shane Schaetzel, a lay convert to the Church, wrote a post that I wish that I had written.
Let me just say- as a forward to what I’ll post below – that this is a really tough time to be a priest. But, as I always say, of all the universes God could have created He created this one, into which He called us into existence at exactly the right point in time and with exactly the right set of tools to carry out our little piece of His overarching, divine Plan. If we dedicate ourselves to our state in life, as it is hic et nunc, here and now, God will give us all the actual graces we need to fulfill our part in His economy of salvation. Just as a war-fighter in dire harm’s way is in the safest place spiritually he can be if he acts out of duty and love of God, family and country, so too the priest. Even if the priest is trodden on by his more powerful clerical brethren and unfairly attacked by world-mired laity, he is in the safest spiritual place he can be if he acts out of love of God, Church and patria. Perhaps this is why old soldiers and old priests tend to be great friends.
In any event, the post I mentioned above is addressed to young priests. The writer gives them his perspective on what is truly needed from priests today, what lay people (and other priests, frankly) need from them, even in the face of opposition.
I am reminded of the lot of ancient doctors and their patients in the time before anesthetics. Doctors don’t stop cutting just because the patient is screaming for them to stop. Priests mustn’t stop bringing the right stuff, just because the worldly are screaming for them to stop.
Here is some of the post, which I wish I had written…
A candle in darkness outshines a bonfire in daylight.
Not in living memory has there been a better time to be a priest. Not within a hundred years has there been a better time to be a priest. Not within a millennium has there been a better time to be a priest. And I say this as a man who has no desire to become a priest whatsoever.
This is not addressed to the aged men who grace our parishes and cathedrals now, but rather the young men just getting started, those men recently ordained in the last ten years or so, and those men still in seminary, as well as those men contemplating the priesthood. There has never been a better time to be a priest than now, but only if you’re a young priest.
By young priest, I mean a priest who is not only young in body, but also one who is traditional in spirit. For the great darkness that has befallen the Church is your chance to shine like a flame. I’m going to tell you a secret now. It’s probably a secret that you already know, but it helps sometimes to hear it from others, or to get a different perspective on it. There has never been a greater time to be a priest, because now you can do so much with so little effort. The darkness has made this possible.
So, maybe you’re a young priest, or maybe you’re in seminary, or maybe you’re a young man thinking about becoming a priest. Do you want to know how to be a great priest? Do you want to know how to attract Catholics and converts from far and wide? Do you want to know how to build a congregation larger than anyone else. It’s simple really. When there’s a famine, you show up with food. When there’s darkness, you light a candle. There is a hunger in the Catholic Church for tradition, but not just tradition. There’s also a hunger for knowledge of God’s written word as well.
You, young Catholic priests, all you need to do is the following…
1. Wear a cassock.
2. Celebrate a traditional liturgy, and when I say traditional, make it as traditional as you possibly can, whatever form you use, even if it draws the ire of older priests.
3. Then during your homily, explain the Scriptures you just read during Mass. Explain them verse by verse. Use the Baltimore Catechism as an aid, keep everything as orthodox as possible, and end each homily with a short call to repentance and conversion.
If you do these things, you most certainly WILL be persecuted. You’ll be persecuted by old hippy parishioners who prefer to have their priests submissive and emasculated. You’ll be persecuted by older priests who will say you’re rocking the boat, and becoming a trouble maker. You’ll be persecuted by weak bishops who cower to the demands of old hippies, feminists, homosexuals and Marxists. Yes, you will be persecuted, but so was Christ and the Apostles before you. The fact that much of this persecution will come from within the Church only demonstrates just how deep this present darkness is. Yet it is because of this thick darkness that you will shine so brightly. Because the times are so dark, and the hunger is so great, if you do these three simple things, you won’t just be a great priest. You’ll become a Saint.
Well, said. Fr. Z kudo’s.
Yes, indeed, you’ll be a great priest. And you’re going to get your teeth kicked in. Again and again and again. And the most painful kicks will come from those who need you the most.
Keep getting up. Don’t ever lie down. Don’t cower. Don’t break. Don’t quit.
At the same time. Don’t be stupid. Choose your hills. Don’t die on the slope of a meaningless or unworthy objective. Remember your brethren, your allies in the fight. Keep them close and keep in contact. You don’t have to do everything alone.
Remember, too, that you – because priests are soon going to be rarer and rarer by decreasing numbers – are a precious resource, not easily renewed. Therefore, take care for your health out of charity for those who need what only priests can give. Taking care of yourself is a work of mercy for others. Allow yourself to be helped. Also, do all that you can to foster vocations to the priesthood.
It’ll only hurt for about 50 years or so.
Then, glory eternal … greeted by happy souls whom you kept out of Hell.
And this song was on the radio when I was in seminary.
Now that I’m older, there’s this version.