Tuesday, May 13, 2008

This poem got me reflecting

This poem I like.

A priest goes down a certain path that the laity does not; particularly a diocesan priest in charge of a flock. They have a different path from the cloistered religious, be they monk or nun. Now, we all need consolation. Priests not excluded. Some priests seek a consolation away from their high calling; they think they have to climb back down to get it. They think their identity as priest gets in the way. I remember one priest who told me once that he was first a human being before a priest; or that he loved his humanity before he loved his priesthood. Now, I can understand what he was saying, but there is an implied shirking of the high calling of the priesthood in this. The ideas people take as their own speak volumes about their fears and about what decisions they have already subconsciously made. This priest later dropped out.

The higher we go, the greater the consolations. It goes basically like this: if the priest is a living saint, his flock will be very good. If the priest is very good, his flock will be good. If the priest is so-so, his flock will be less-than-lukewarm bench warmers. If the priest is bad, the flock will be confused, conflicted, or rebels like their rebel priest. This is speaking very broadly, but the truth of it remains: the priest, by the very ordination of his very position, has a higher stature, a higher "connection" to the divine if you will, than his laity. This does not mean his soul is automatically holier than any of his flock, but that, in short, what is "expected" of him is of a certain higher order; "expected" as in he is expected to be a priest, and to do what a priest does; like hearing confessions, making the most holy sacrifice of the mass, becoming in persona, Jesus Christ, and changing the bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus. The self-evident implication of such operations as these is that the priest is going down a certain path so as to enrich the flock that is put into his care. Aside from the divine consolations a priest must receive, I bet one of the greatest consolations comes from his flock, when they are enriched.

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