Skip to comments.What is happening to the Priesthood?
Posted on 09/21/2004 11:02:05 PM PDT by AskStPhilomena
In the May 2003 issue of Mass of Ages I published an article, What Has Happened to the Sacristy? It was intended to provoke us to look at the question of how we behave in the sacristy and how we prepare for Mass and hand on our love of the Mass to our young people, and especially our altar servers. Since then another important question has caught my attention and we must find the courage to look at some possible answers. The question I mean is What is happening to the priesthood?
Im sure many of us look back to the Protestant Reformation and lament the damage that was done to the Church. True, we can also take heart and even rejoice when we look at the extraordinary faith and courage of the martyrs of that time priests willing to lay down their lives in order to be able to celebrate the Mass and administer the other Sacraments to the faithful, and lay folk willing to accept suffering and death in order to shelter those priests whose ministry was seen as indispensable to the life of the Church in this land.
A new martyrdom
Now many of us have been called to a new form of martyrdom as we have watched and indeed suffered for forty years as a new Reformation has gripped the Church, causing huge waves of extensive damage. The statues scarred and desecrated by Oliver Cromwell and his companions have now been pulled down and thrown out; our Stations of the Cross have been replaced by posters and altars have been replaced by wooden tables; convents have been closed and churches shut down: why is all this happening?
Because priests are once again being replaced by ministers! Indeed, the whole concept of priesthood is being replaced by ministry. We no longer need priests! Everyone should be a minister. We are replacing Catholic truth with Presbyterian ideals. We don't need priests if we have enough ministers. There's the ministry of reading, the ministry of flowers, the ministry of music, not to mention our extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion and our lay chaplains at the hospital and school.
Your priests shall be clothed with holiness, says the scriptures, but not ours. We have spent forty years and more defrocking them so that they may no longer wear a cassock as an outward sign of their dignity as reflections of the glory of Christ, the Eternal High Priest. Those priests who wear a cassock, just as occurred during the first Reformation, are now penalised by being made to look the fool and treated as outcasts, not only by people who know no better but even by their brother priests and bishops. The cry today is for our priests to be just one of the lads. Wed sooner see them on the golf course or in the pub rather than at the altar. We want them dressed in casual clothes as a sign they are just one of us. We flinch from the idea that maybe, just maybe, God has called them and set them apart. God has anointed them and singled them out to be holy and wholly His.
Community worships itself
We have complained at the way they turned their back on us during the traditional rite of Mass, but in truth we have turned our backs on them! We don't need a father figure any more and we don't need the wonderful and miraculous Sacrifice of the Mass any more. We happily settle for a Sunday service, where we can focus on the children or on the music or on our old people. We don't need a sacrifice, were happier with a special meal. We can share our bread and wine and shake hands with one another. We can talk about the poor and the needy and cheer ourselves up with clapping and music. Theres no need for silence in church and in any case theres no one to enforce silence because we are all equal in the eyes of God and no one tells us what to do.
So what is happening to the priesthood? We are abolishing it! And you may ask what is happening to the Mass? We are, as in the previous Reformation, driving it underground to be celebrated by the chosen remnant behind closed doors. We no longer want priests, we can replace them with anyone willing to entertain us for an hour on Sunday morning. Our pastor , (we don't even like the word priest any more), is at a very important meeting this morning so Mary Smith or Bill Jones is taking our little communion service!
Workers in the vineyard
When I was ordained a priest some twenty years ago the ordaining prelate picked up the words of the prophet Isiaah, How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news. The ordination of a new priest meant another pair of feet would tread the path of Christ. Another pair of hands would be consecrated to the service of Christ. Through the gift of preaching and the celebration of the Mass another generation of people would hear the voice of Christ. The Sacrament of Ordination meant the transforming power of the Holy Spirit would reach out even further, spreading the kingdom of God. By the gift of the Holy Spirit, all things could and would be made new! Bread once again would be changed into the body of Christ, wine into His precious blood. Sinners could be changed into saints, and man made in the image and likeness of God could by baptism become part of the new creation. By the laying on of hands and anointing with Chrism, the oil of gladness, a man would become a new manifestation of Christ, the Eternal and Sovereign Priest.
Yet now we reject the very idea of a royal priesthood; now, in our obsession with throwing out all things old and turning our backs on Tradition, we are not reforming the Church but deforming it. We tell ourselves we dont need the Sacrifice of the Mass, the Sacrifice of Christ. In fact, we tell ourselves, we dont need Christ! He needs us! We have closed the mouths of those who greeted us with, Dominus vobiscum. We are abandoning the Faith of our Fathers, and even resent calling God our father in the interests of making women feel more at ease in our parish communities.
Seminaries or lay training?
So, little wonder those seminaries will flourish where the priesthood is still something to aspire to. Little wonder that in the Institute of Christ the King, Sovereign Priest and the Fraternity of St Peter, vocations abound and the priesthood is loved and cherished. These and other institutes like them, will be the beneficiaries of our Catholic heritage because, to those who have more will be given and from those who have not, even what they thought they had will be taken from them.
The diocesan seminaries, where they still exist, will continue to offer courses to catechists, parish administrators and others interested in theology and philosophy, but ordination, for them, is a thing of the past, the age of the laity is here. So, lets burn the books and destroy the vestments. This is a new age and we need to have a fresh start! Lets strip our churches bare; tell the old priests to be quiet and tell our nuns and friars they should feel ashamed to wear their habits. Enough of this clericalism! Confession is old fashioned and any one can visit the sick and the house bound. We certainly don't need men to pray for us and for the whole Church, we can form our own prayer group our prayers are just as good as any priests.
So our priests get older and are not being replaced, for there are no vocations to an obsolete ministry. So, if it is still burning could the last one out of the church please blow out the sanctuary lamp because we don't need the Real Presence of Christ in our tabernacles any more, we only need Him in our hearts
What the Church needs
I am blessed now with early retirement. There was no room in the inn for me, but I have a small chapel and a handful of good people who come to daily Mass as often as they can. As I offer the Mass and pray for the Church and all the baptised, I ask the Lord to grant us the humility to see. Lord let us see again. We do need the Mass, we do need priests and we do need to pray for our priests. We can afford to take the risk of letting them be clothed in holiness again. We need to encourage them to offer the Sacrifice of the Mass with reverence, love and dignity. We can and must encourage our young ones, especially by example, to use the Sacrament of Confession regularly, to recognise Christ in the Sacrament of the Altar and to find Him often in silence. We need to restore a sense of balance to the Church by sharing out the work load to include more and more laity but without losing our special regard for the Sacraments and those who administer them.
We must promote and encourage vocations to the religious life and to the priesthood. We need those who are willing to pray for us and offer themselves as sacrifices acceptable to God through their poverty, chastity and obedience; and we need those who are willing to go unto the altar of God and there offer the Sacrifice of Christ to the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit for the forgiveness of our sins and the salvation of the whole world.
Good post. On the money.
Sad to say, but there are many modern "Catholic" cardinals and bishops who would wholeheartedly agree with you.
"If therefore you will hear my voice, and keep my covenant, you shall be my peculiar possession above all people: for all the earth is mine. And you shall be to me a priestly kingdom, and a holy nation. Those are the words thou shalt speak to the children of Israel...And when he was gone up thither, He said unto him: Go down, and charge the people: lest they should have a mind to pass the limits to see the Lord, and a very great multitude of them should perish. The priests also that come to the Lord, let them be sanctified, lest he strike them." (Exodus xix.5-6,20-22)
From the Catholic Encyclopedia:
"Christ possessed fullness of power in virtue of His priesthood--of His office as Redeemer and Mediator. He merited the grace which freed man from the bondage of sin, which grace is applied to man mediately by the Sacrifice of the Eucharist and immediately by the sacraments. He gave His Apostles the power to offer the Sacrifice (Luke xxii.19), and dispense the sacraments (Matt. xxviii,18; John xx.22,23); thus making them priests. It is true that every Christian receives sanctifying grace which confers on him a priesthood. Even as Israel under the Old dispensation was to God 'a priestly kingdom' (Exod. xix.4-6), thus under the New, all Christians are 'a kingly priesthood' (I Pet. ii.9); but now as then the special and sacramental priesthood strengthens and perfects the universal priesthood (cf. II Cor. iii.3,6; Rom. xv.16)."
Since you view the Catholic Church as a new religion and are hence in schism, this matter simply does not concern you. Please stop posting your bigoted anti-Catholic articles.
Are you a new Religion Moderator?
He won't even give out his real name.
He probably wants to keep his retirement.
As I said, where's his courage?
Probably running second behind his prudence.
**Please stop posting your bigoted anti-Catholic articles.**
I agree with you wholeheartedly, Unam Sanctam!
I enjoy to read the articles, and I am grateful to people for keeping up the forum with lots of articles.
One can skip the thread if one wants. Or debate it in the posts. It is too much to ask that the articles not appear at all.
Are you so shallow now as to want copy from The Latin Mass Society out of view on a religion forum? Are you not mature enough in you faith and philosophy to even discuss the subject at hand, instead must take after the poster?
You react this way because your positions on these issues lack stability and foundation, therefor you feel you must try to quash the source, attack the messenger or run to forum authorities.
Try discussing the article for a change.
You don't think I'm a deacon; I think this was written by somebody with a point of view who might be a priest or might not be.
Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth,
vanity of vanities! All things are vanity!
What profit has man from all the labor
which he toils at under the sun?
One generation passes and another comes,
but the world forever stays.
The sun rises and the sun goes down;
then it presses on to the place where it rises.
Blowing now toward the south, then toward the north,
the wind turns again and again, resuming its rounds.
All rivers go to the sea,
yet never does the sea become full.
To the place where they go,
the rivers keep on going.
All speech is labored;
there is nothing one can say.
The eye is not satisfied with seeing
nor is the ear satisfied with hearing.
What has been, that will be;
what has been done, that will be done.
Nothing is new under the sun.
Even the thing of which we say, "See, this is new!"
has already existed in the ages that preceded us.
There is no remembrance of the men of old;
nor of those to come will there be any remembrance
among those who come after them.
I see no bigotry or anti-Catholicism in this article, just truth and lamentation.
This is outrageous, Salvation. And pinging the Religion Moderator was a low blow that can only cause further conflict. You rashly make false accusations of "posting bigoted anti-Catholic articles" without having the common decency to check the source of the article. Here is the description of the Latin Mass Society on their home page which you could have reached by simply clicking the link above:
A lay-led Catholic society, in full communion with the Holy Father Pope John Paul II, working towards a restoration of authentic traditional Catholic worship, particularly in Sacred Liturgy, Music and Architecture.Your false and reckless charge of "anti-Catholic" deserves nothing less than a full apology.
The Latin Mass Society, established in 1965, is a founder member of the International Una Voce Federation.
Maybe we could ignore the thread hijackers? Lately every thread has been turned into a battle by a select few.
Unam Sanctam is incorrigible in his repetitious ad hominem attacks on every traditional Catholic. He was already reproved on the last thread for his personal attacks and the lies he told. At this point it's best just to ignore him. But I'm surprised that Salvation would have stooped so low as to join him in the sewer.
This sentence struck me the most. Very wise words.
I never ever stated that. If you can't verify in fact that you are then do so in deed and start acting like one.
At this point sinkspur, I don't know what's more troublesome... that you are or you aren't.
That's very good advice, I'm extremely tired of this nonsense.
BEST, I never slam you personally. Ever. I thought your comment was out of line.
But, your comments stand on their own. And I'm not the only one who observes them, believe me.
I guess the truth does hurt a bit..One must admit the changes taking place during these times are questionable..Mass, these days, in some parishes are straddling the line....Laity has taken over all aspects of services, we are becoming more and more protestant, women in the sanctuary, as communion servers, etc. is it any wonder young male adults are shying away, they are being discouraged rather than encouraged into entering God's service....I know, I know, things do change over the years, but what are we hastening to? Mass, in some churches follow assembly line services..Hurry the crowd in, make sure the entire assemblage receives the Host regardless of whether or not they have been to confession the past year or so. Is this what we have become? Where is the reverance to the Holy Eucharist,the Host that we truly believe to be the body and blood of Jesus Christ. I think it is time for us to step back and take a good look at what we doing and where we are going. Eternity is forever, and we better prepare for it.
Although an imperfect sinner as the rest of us, he shows a deep love for the historic faith, engages in thoughtful apologetics with us and our separated brethren and behaves in a manner enhances us and our church.
I don't care to judge or advise you, but if you've spent half a lifetime as an ordained deacon I implore you to begin using what must be a wealth of knowledge for more constructive means. If you have it in you, you're sorely needed.
From one who is in the middle of flame wars, behaving badly.
I'm not going to shy away from threads which trash the Church, the Pope, and the Novus Ordo. Your fellow traditionalists have a field day posting articles from The Remnant and the despicable Christopher Ferrara which ridicule the Holy Father. And, judging from past experience, the Religion Moderator tolerates that stuff. It won't be long before the FR religion forum, Catholic-wise, will be nothing but traditionalists. I'm sure you'll relish that, but imagine if the News/Activism forum was nothing but posts from the John Birch Society.
My brother deacon will have to make his own decisions.
We do indeed need to get back to basics. And while change is necessary, radical change is a sign of corruption. What's going on now is certainly a revolution--a take-over by modernists who are attempting to impose a new protestantizing religion. It is not Catholic and must be resisted by the faithful.
People tolerate your posts from the leftist NCR. Perhaps you could extend the same?
My posts from the "leftist" NCR never take swipes at traditional Catholics. Ever. They are usually relative to current news out of the Vatican, which rarely has anything to do with the Tridentine Mass or traditionalism.
Traditionalist postings, however, usually include shots at the Church, the Pope, and the Novus Ordo.
My articles never poke fun at your inclinations, Deborah, whereas postings from Ferrara and the Remnant rain hell on John Paul II.
You know that's true, don't you?
No, I don't know that's true. I know that you support disciplines which the Pope opposes as contrary to thousands of years of Catholicism.
It doesn't offend me personally but it causes a fair amount of discussion as it opposes current and past Catholic teaching.
Explains the Legion of Mary, which is established to assist the clergy in the sanctification of souls, and other apostalic organizations.
The people who think this man's lament is an anti-Catholic tirade are way off. I see it as a call to both the priesthood and laity. Lord knows there's much work to be done.
The original issue was articles that I posted from the NCR, wasn't it? I guess you've conceded that my articles don't, in any way, reflect negatively on traditionalism, so you change the subject.
The discipline I'm sure you are referring to is that of mandatory celibacy. It is a discipline, not a doctrine, and two major exceptions have been made to it in the last 30 years: permanent diaconate and the Anglican dispensation.
Disciplines are not "teaching." They are rules. That's all. If the Church allowed married men to be ordained priests in the Latin Rite--to conform to the practice in the other 22 rites in the Catholic Church-- no major doctrine would be affected.
I'm sure you understand that.
Noooooooo, celibacy for priests is part of Tradition, whether you call it a rule, discipline or whatever.
You openly oppose tradition. In fact, in the last week you stated you don't care what the tradition of the Church is, you openly opposed it on that particular thread.
Discussing this with you is pointless. You have no ability to see your own behavior similar to what you claim in others. It's always everyone else's fault.
Now, you stamp your feet over celibacy.
Your head should spin from jumping from one subject to another.
Objections to celibacy are some of the articles you post from NCR.
You have mail.
"Since you view the Catholic Church as a new religion and are hence in schism, this matter simply does not concern you. Please stop posting your bigoted anti-Catholic articles."
It may not be a "new religion" yet, because among the tares there is much healthy wheat which clings to the old religion. But if you would doubt that there are many within the Church who wish it to become a "new religion" or "new Church", then read this hymn which a local bishop has ordered to be spread throughout his diocese as a guiding principle for the upcoming diocesan assembly:
Trust the goodness of creation
Trust the Spirit strong within
Dare to dream the vision promised
Sprung from seed of WHAT HAS BEEN
Let us bring the gifts that differ
And in splendid varied ways
Sing a NEW CHURCH into being
one in faith and love and praise
Bring the hopes of e'vry nation
Bring the art of e'vry race
Weave a song of peace and justice
Let it sound through time and space
Let us bring the gifts that differ
And in splendid varied ways
Sing a new Church into being
one in faith and love and praise
Draw together at one table
All the human family
Shape a circle ever wider
And a people ever free
Let us bring the gifts that differ
And in splendid varied ways
Sing a new Church into being
one in faith and love and praise
Maybe I am being a bit paranoid and reading to much into this desire to "sing a new Church into being"! However, knowing that the curial organisation which produced this is staffed mainly by wimmin who belong to the Catholic Women's Network (promoters of abortion and wimmin's ordination), and at least 2 of whom are practising Lesbians, there is some logic to my paranoia!
As to the fidelity of the Latin Mass Society, they have recently gone through real turmoil to expel sympathisers of the SSPX from their executive committee, and issue a declaration of fidelity to the local bishops of England & Wales and the Holy Father.
The only response generally tends to be the same old ungracious slap in the face so one has to wonder if it was worthwhile.
Still, to shout "schism" and "anti-Catholic" of such people is both unworthy of you and a serious detraction against people who have suffered much from all sides in their struggle to be faithful to Holy Mother Church and her Holy Tradition.
"Is this priest supposed to be a man of courage?
He won't even give out his real name."
Many bishops over here openly persecute such priests to the point of depriving them of their pension and their home. The Cardinal has sent priests for psychological evaluations when they have asked permission to say the old Mass
In such an environment I can't blame him for remaining anonymous. I'm sure you wouldn't want to reveal your real identity on Free Republic!
Trying to pass-off the current regime as "orthodox" must be a frustrating affair - I'm glad I abandoned the effort some time ago. "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!"
I think it unfair that you should question sinkspur's Orders unless you know some genuine reason to do so. He was probably ordained in the old Rite and so you should have more confidence in his than in mine!
Obviously you should feel free to call him out if he starts blathering nonsense, but unless you have good grounds to query someone's bona fides, then you should assume that they are in good faith and standing.
I also disagree with much of what he says, but that in no way impacts on his being a deacon.
I know you are a good-hearted and faithful Catholic (one of the best), but please, for the sake of charity, let that one rest.
God bless you.
Here you are, in the middle of the problem again.
I rarely see you discuss anything anymore, besides yourself and how much you despise tradtion and the forum.
This is a conservative forum, sorry if most here reject your liberal ideas regarding a 1,500 year old institution.
"Trying to pass-off the current regime as "orthodox" must be a frustrating affair - I'm glad I abandoned the effort some time ago."
"orthdox"? I would never accuse said bishop of being such a thing!
That was directed more at the forum - I'm pretty sure you've got a realistic opinion of His Excellency.