Ohhhh the elephant in the room. First off, I’d like to begin by saying that we are sinners. We all need redemption and must trust in the Sacraments established by Christ through His saving Passion, Death and Resurrection to enable us to get to Heaven. Through this journey and that journey, no doubt we have all met many great humble and holy priests, religious and lay people. For myself?,. Well, I am and remain a work in progress with probably more issues that they could help me with, then I could ever help them. Why am I writing this post? Well because like most of my posts, it falls into a category of reality and honesty. People, God’s people ask questions,.. So perhaps we together can shed a little light on the matter? Here goes!
Human formation, the most important part of Pastores Dabo Vobis by Pope John Paul II. Sadly, it is my opinion that this part has either been neglected or not taken seriously. Recently, the community in Montreal was faced with an issue of pedophilia. Once again, the media will leap to attack the diocese, yet this time the media has gone silent in this regard, because the Diocese under a faithful Archbishop has done everything in its power to co-operate with this investigation. The underlying issue remains, why so many ‘cases’ in the priesthood? Perhaps, this prayerful opinion (that is all it is) can shed some light. Guys like ‘me’ constantly would face this question; ‘You don’t look like a … ‘ or still my favorite when you tell them that you are considering the priesthood,.. ‘You serious? Are you gay?’ Well,.. These are the questions of God’s people.
Priestly celibacy and chastity are always tricky issues. I can only speak for myself. I have had relationships, a few. When I used to work out of a gym, I was much closer to Charlie Sheen than I could ever have been to Jesus. Still, prayer (along with corporal mortification such as fasting) enabled Grace to abide in me enough to resist. Let me be perfectly clear,.. Left to my own devices, I am sinful and there are lots of beautiful women. My character is seductive, charming and I have never had a problem ‘articulating.’ All this adds up to a dangerous combination. Still, perhaps Jesus can use these charisms for ‘good’ for His glory and not my own? That being said, Prayer, along with a good exercise routine enables me to ‘expel’ energy. Energy that a healthy man of my age would possess and need to expel. Does this mean I don’t miss women? To paraphrase Stone Cold Steve Austin,.. ‘Ohhh hell no!’ There are days when mother nature tag teams with concupiscence and will stretch me to my limit! Those days,. I can either pray (the Rosary especially) or I can fall. Our Lord chooses the Cross for us, we don’t choose it for ourselves. My issue would be no different to that of a married man being faithful to one woman, when our fallen nature clearly has our compass pointing elsewhere, despite it having nothing to do with Love! (To my married buddies, this is not license to have an adventure, read and reread what I said!,.. You are pretty much no different than a celibate if your living it properly!) That means ‘prudence’ must be exercised! The woman at work, that her beautiful eyes are the second thing you notice? The one that looks like she converved herself in butter to fit into that dress? Maybe its not such a good idea to meet up with her alone at her place,.. If you smell what the Rock is cookin,.. ?
This ‘interior’ life means a constant focus on the Cross. Christ and Christ crucified, which one is seeking to emulate. The notion of discerning a reality FAR greater than yourself is consistently present. Quiet time contemplating Jesus and knowing that He may choose you to work through. In plain speak, you will be a victim like Jesus, and you will also in a certain sense be co-responsible for the salvation of those under your care. To be a little more clear, you will go to hell before your people will because you will have to account for why they may be lost. ‘Remember that with great power, comes great responsibility!’ (Uncle Ben to Peter Parker). This prayer life is your gasoline and sustenance. (BTW,.. If you don’t know who Uncle Ben or Peter Parker is, and you need to google it, then YOU need a serious course in pastoral reality reflecting people under the age of 50!) Holy Mass and the Divine Office become vital.
The next step of the interior life of prayer, is a relationship with Mary. Should God call you to Holy Orders, you have no woman in your life, as in no wife. You most likely will have no children. You need a feminine to relate to. Mary becomes a recourse to celibacy and chastity. From this prayer life, we grow our virtues, and let God to transform us. The minute we think we got ‘under control’ He will let us slip up and fall!
The second issue, again, in my opinion is that the seminary could be construed as the ‘safe space’ for all the awkward dudes trying to hide from the world. Either they were/are completely introspective, homosexual, perhaps they couldn’t hold either a job or a girl?,. Who knows but they may have seen the seminary as a great hiding place,.. Well your issues will come back up to bite you in the ass if you don’t deal with them. Its that simple! The ‘asterix’ with regards to this issue, is that often times the clergy can be made up of such people, people who don’t function and thus they will weed out the regular guys discerning or simply seeking to live out God’s Call to Holiness. On the other hand though, is that Jesus’s disciples were all made up of regular ‘f#@k ups!’ Read or pray the Gospels!,.. Peter, (Our first Pope) remains a very **ahem** regular dude shall we say?
The stakes have changed. Gone are the days when seminaries accepted the kid right out of high school, formed and taught him. The guys arriving these days are guys with experience. Men who have been with women and have held jobs. Some of them are even fathers. Perhaps this needs to be taken into account? The awkward guys, if your vocation is real, trust in God but don’t play a game. To the gay guys, pray about what you are doing, this isn’t your personal club med. (Although sadly in many areas of the Church it has become one). Most people, have a hard time calling ‘pedophilia’ the majority of the crimes, simply because the OVERWHELMING majority of the victims are post pubescent boys. Please pray and think about what you guys are doing. Myself? I could never become a chaplain at strip club with women dancing. Human nature is weak, and I would fall. Use and apply the same principles. To the gay dudes,.. You guys,.. I love you but you are called to the same celibacy and chastity as the rest of us! Please respect that.
To conclude, as I reflect prayerfully upon these issues, the key to the vocation of any Christian is to love. To love all of God’s children, as if they were are own. The priest, like a good spiritual dad must be ready to wipe away tears, to admonish, to protect, to counsel, to discern all the while offering the Sacrifice of the Son to the Father. For myself, constantly discerning,.. I remain a ‘work in progress…’
Our Lady of Fatima, ………………………………..ora pro nobis!