To The Priests

From Archbishop Dolan:
 ... if the life, vigor, holiness, and efficacy of the Church depended only upon the virtue of priests and bishops, it would have been dead-on-arrival, not surviving that afternoon when the sun hid in shame and the earth shuddered in sadness.

Our faith is not in popes, cardinals, bishops, priests, or even in monsignors.  Nope:  our faith is only in Jesus.  He and He alone will never let us down; He will never sin; He and He alone will never break a promise; He and He alone deserves our absolute trust and confidence.

That's why it's especially tragic when someone leaves Jesus and His Church because of a sin, scandal, or slight from a priest or bishop.  If your faith depended on us, it was misplaced to begin with.  We priests and bishops might represent Jesus and shepherd His Church, however awkwardly -- but we are not Jesus and His Church.

One of the more moving, sad, yet, usually "sacramental" duties I have as a bishop is to meet at times with victim survivors of sexual abuse by clergy, and on occasion their families.  Some of them tell me they have left the Church, they hate the Church, they have lost their faith.  Most of them, though, tell me that, as shattered, sickened, and angry as they may be, nobody, nowhere, nohow is going to take their faith away!  These are an inspiration to me.

The wife of one victim once graciously said to me, "Archbishop, you have helped me regain my faith in the Church!  I am putting my trust in you!"

I replied, "I'm flattered and grateful, but, please, don't put absolute confidence in me.  I'll work everyday to earn and keep your trust, and pray daily I'll never, ever let you down, but, believe me, sooner-or-later, sadly, I'm afraid I will let you down and disappoint you.  Please, put your total faith and trust only in Jesus!  Anything else is idolatry!"

Maybe, maybe there's a decent reason for leaving the Church.  I've never heard one, but a lot of people apparently think they have good cause, since "ex-Catholics" sadly number in the millions.

However, leaving because of something a priest or bishop may have done or not done is surely not a decent reason.

The Beautiful Hands of a Priest

We need them in life's early morning, 
We need them again at its close;
We feel their warm clasp of true friendship,
We seek them when tasting life's woes. 
At the altar each day we behold them, 
And the hands of a king on his throne
Are not equal to them in their greatness;
Their dignity stands all alone; 
And when we are tempted and wander, 
To pathways of shame and of sin, It's the hand of a priest that will
absolve us--Not once, but again and again. 
And when we are taking life's partner, Other hands may prepare 
us a feast,
But the hand that will bless and unite us-- Is the beautiful hand 
of a priest. 
God bless them and keep them all holy,
For the Host which their fingers caress; 
When can a poor sinner do better, Than to ask Him to guide 
thee and bless? 
When the hour of death comes upon us, May our courage and
strength be increased, By seeing raised over us in blessing-- 
The beautiful hands of a priest.
Jesus, meek and humble of heart, 

give all priests Thy spirit of humility; 
Jesus, poor and worn out for souls, 
give all priests Thy spirit of zeal; 
Jesus, full of patience and mercy for sinners, 
give all priests Thy spirit of compassion; 
Jesus, victim for the sins of the world, 
give all priests Thy spirit of sacrifice; 
Jesus, lover of the little and the poor, 
give all priests Thy spirit of charity. 
Mary, Queen of the Clergy, pray for us; 
and obtain for us numerous and holy 
priests and religious. 

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  • That reminds me of a story I heard about St. Francis, who was getting toward the end of his life. He couldn't walk very well, and was blind. But a group of people from a particular parish went to see him about their pastor. The poor priest was shacking up with a woman, creating scandal, etc., and they wanted St. Francis to go straighten him out. (Give him what for!) So, St. Francis made his way to the priest's house and they knocked on the door. The people were waiting with baited breath for St. Francis to "get him!" But, St. Francis, being full of humility, knelt before the priests, grabbed his hands, and kissed them saying, "All I know is that these hands bring me Jesus!" (Referring to the Eucharist.) As it was, the poor sinful priest converted on the spot and began living an exemplary life.

    Mother Theresa of Calcutta used to say that pride destroyed everything. And Satan has no defense against humility.

  • That is a wonderful story! Thank you!

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