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by Oliver Cromwell and his companions have now been pulled down and thrown out; our Stations of the Cross have been replaced by posters and altars have been replaced by wooden tables; convents have been closed and churches shut down: why is all this happening?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.